Flare in Camera Lens

Flare in Camera Lens

  • Internal reflection of light, called flare, within a complex lens produces stray light rays that tend to "fog" the camera sensor or whole film frame with a slight overall exposure. With black-and-white films, the most obvious effect in printing is an overall lower picture contrast; color films may also display a bluish color cast, because the short, blue wavelengths are most easily scattered. The tendency toward flare is reduced in lens manufacture by coating the glass-to-air surfaces with antireflective materials. Residual effects of simple lens flare are reduced in photography by closing down the lens aperture, since the effect is at its worst at a wide open aperture.

  • Zoom lenses are particularly likely to display flare effects, because of their relatively large number of glass-to-air surfaces, and because to vary the focal length certain lens groups must move with respect to one another and cannot be kept in an optimum relationship. However, closing the aperture a stop or two takes care of the matter in the better designs.

  • Common with zoom lenses are excessive flare effects that produce multiple images of a light source when the lens is aimed toward or close to the light. (Such effects are often deliberately used in the more dramatic television programs.) If they are not wanted for their pictorial effects, they can be avoided by using care in backlighted photography. A lens shade will also help, especially one that can be adjusted to follow closely the image edges and thereby exclude from the lens any light not actually making up part of the image.

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