As is often the case with a new phone, especially a popular one, if there are issues they are usually found fairly quickly. A problem that seems to be plaguing a number of new Pixel owners is halo effects (a lens flare issue) on photos containing light sources like a lamp or some other source. Lens flares are common in cameras, and can even be used to artistic effect (J.J. Abrams anyone?) but they can be annoying if they show up unintentionally in circumstances where they shouldn’t.
According t0 reports on Reddit and on the Pixel User Community boards, and as demonstrated aptly in the video above (courtesy of Jeff Springer) the halo appears in photographs where it simply shouldn’t be. Taking photos with other cameras in the same environments doesn’t produce a flare, suggesting there’s something not quite right in what’s happening on the Pixel.
Fortunately, Google are aware of the problem and working on a software fix to get rid of it. Basically this delivers something that Google actually promised at the launch; the ability to fix camera issues and make improvements in software, thanks to the image processing power embedded within the phone. In short, the fix will recognise the halo where it exists, and using mathematics, erase it from the photo leaving a perfect shot behind.
Here’s the post from Google employee IsaacOnCamera:
First, for some background — flare is a property of ALL camera lenses. It comes in a ton of different shapes and sizes and can even be used for creative effect — good and bad :-). The shape, color, amount, etc. of flare is related to dozens of different parameters of the lens structure and inclement light.
However, we have seen reports about this “halo/arc flare”. This is the specific kind of flare that appears as a bright/low-contrast arc in the corners of the frame.
You can expect a software update in the next few weeks that will improve the effects of this issue. We’re working on some algorithms that recognize the halo/arc flare, characterize it mathematically, and then subtract it from the image. 🙂 You will need to use HDR+ to see the benefits of this software.
Also, there is no point getting your device replaced thanks to this issue. The Pixel camera’s lens structure is very highly controlled — this means that all Pixels take high-quality images, but it also means all Pixels have the same flare characteristics.
I wrote a post a while ago about how by doing things in software, we are able to make Pixel’s camera even better over time. This is one of those ways.”
If you’re not seeing this issue on your camera — we have to say, we haven’t seen it yet — you can see it shown off in this demo video from Jeff Springer (look about a minute or two in):