Google Pixel and Pixel XL owners have been complaining on Reddit about a halo effect that appears on photos taken by either handset that includes a lamp or another source of light. According to some who have studied the problem, the halo comes from a misalignment between the positioning of the camera and the 2.5D glass panel. Can Google fix a hardware issue with a software update? Read on!
To prove that the halos are not the usual lens flares that all smartphone cameras are prone to, pictures taken by a Pixel and Pixel XL were matched up against photos taken under similar conditions using the cameras on other handsets. The bottom line was that the halos appeared only on those pictures snapped using the cameras found on Google’s new handsets.
A Google employee has since posted on the Pixel User Community board that a software update to fix the problem is in the works, and will start rolling out over the next few weeks. The update will add some new algorithms to the Pixel and Pixel XL snapper that will recognize the halo, convert it to mathematics, and subtract it from the photo. In order to employ this solution, Pixel and Pixel XL users will have to enable HDR+ on their camera. This comes from a Google employee with the user name 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.”-Letter from a Google employee using the handle Isaac on Camera posted on the Pixel User Community Board