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I recently bought a Canon 550D and have been experimenting with this for a week. I have been pretty satisfied with the quality, until I faced this lens flare problem. Notice the unwanted blue light near the red board with yellow star:

Attached are two pics

  1. Shot with Canon 550D - 18-55 kit lens with UV filter on: with UV filter

  2. Shot with Canon 550D - 18-55 kit lens without UV filter on: without UV filter

Is this level of lens flare normal? Or are there any quality issues with my camera?

P.S.: Pics are little blurred — I have quite shaky hands.

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are you implying that the UV filter should reduce or prevent flare? – Agos Jan 2 '12 at 11:31
@Agos - No, i understand that UV filter will not help instead will cause the flare more. All i am worried is the level of flare i am getting is normal or there's some problem with my equipment. – Gaurav Jan 2 '12 at 15:00
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Yes, this is normal. It's important to realize that this is almost entirely to do with the lens and not the camera body. See What causes lens flare? for more detailed background, but basically, flare is the result of stray light bouncing around, and is common with lower-cost lenses and with wide-angle lenses — and the 18-55mm kit lens is both.

You can see that the problem is worse with the UV filter. A large, flat, and probably cheaply-coated glass element is ideal for bouncing light (but not so ideal for avoiding artifacts like this). A higher-quality filter will contribute less to the problem, but won't improve the lens itself. A higher-quality lens will have a design intended to protect more against random bouncing light.

A cheap thing you can do to help, though, is to shade the lens from out-of-scene light. You can use your hand or a piece of cardboard in a pinch, but really this is what a lens hood is for. It screws on the front of the lens and keeps some of the "extra" light away. (For your Canon kit lens, the item you want is the EW-60C lens hood.)

Of course, that won't help flare caused by lights in the scene (as in your image, where the blue ghost light appears to be caused by the bright white lamp on the building). For that, the best option is to compose differently — move so that light source is obscured, or just hits the lens in a less-obtrusive way. If that's too limiting — sometimes, that's the picture you want to take! — a lens which better controls flare (which is to say, a more expensive lens) will help get this kind of shot.

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@mattdm- Updated images inline. – Gaurav Jan 2 '12 at 15:02
@Gaurav — yeah, I saw. Thanks. :) – mattdm Jan 2 '12 at 15:03

If you're shooting directly into a bright light source like that, then that level of flare is most certainly not unheard of.

There are coatings that will reduce glare.

  • Better lenses typically have better coatings.
  • Better filters typically have better coatings. All UV filters are not created equal.

If you've put a cheap UV filter on a kit lens, its no great surprise to get really horrid flaring.

Overall, I don't think you've got defective equipment. It's just the basic lens and probably a basic UV filter.

share|improve this answer
Thanks rfusca. I have a point and shoot camera SONY DSC H3 but to my surprise it does not have any lens flare issues. Also what kind of lens or filter do i need to have to avoid this. – Gaurav Jan 2 '12 at 8:01

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