enter image description here

In person, the sign is pure white.

This was taken with my iPhone X.

Is it the camera shutter speed?

  • 1
    Looks like a flickering issue, just as with many other artificial light sources.
    – xiota
    Apr 30 '19 at 5:30
  • What causes it?
    – user339946
    Apr 30 '19 at 5:38
  • 2
    The light is flickering and your camera does not take the picture all at once but scans sensor pixels line by line. Different lines are read during different flickering situation.
    – Gerhardh
    Apr 30 '19 at 6:06
  • 1
    When you say "smudge" are you talking about the color bands the the left and center right, or are you talking about the secondary image of the entire neon assembly?
    – Michael C
    Apr 30 '19 at 14:46

In person, the sign is pure white.

The light and dark yellow-tinted bands looks like a flickering issue, which is common with many artificial light sources. Some cameras have an anti-flickering setting. If such a setting is not available, you can try dropping the shutter speed to something like 1/40. If the problem goes away, you can gradually increase the shutter speed until just before banding reappears.

You can read about related lighting technologies on Wikipedia:

This was taken with my iPhone X.

The problem seems to be associated with electronic rolling shutter commonly used in phone cameras. Unfortunately, the solution would be to adjust the readout time, which is out of your control.

Here is another effect associated with electronic rolling shutters:


Related Questions:

  • The bands you are describing are the Vertical yellow-tinted bands, Yes?
    – Stan
    May 1 '19 at 1:45
  • @Stan Yes. If there are any other light and dark yellow-tinted bands, I missed them.
    – xiota
    May 1 '19 at 2:43

Neon lights - especially true neon lights (as opposed to flourescent striplights, where a lot depends on the actual circuitry used. True neon lights usually run straight off several kilovolts AC from a transformer) - do have a dark/partially illuminated phase in every mains half cycle.

Any camera that does not capture all parts of the image at the exact same time will capture some of the image during the dark phase(s) if the shutter and/or readout speed is slow enough. If it is fast enough, you run a risk of an unexpectedly dark picture instead.

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