I have recently ran into an issue with my Nikon D3200, it seems I may have toasted my DSLR's sensor - I stupidly shone my phone's flashlight on it when cleaning it recently.

These purple patches seem to only appear when I change my camera calibration profile to anything other than "Adobe Standard" or "Landscape" in Photoshop Camera RAW. I have always applied the "Neutral" profile to all my photos, and only after my recent sensor cleaning did I start to notice this issue.

If anybody could take a look and tell me what they think, it would be greatly appreciated! I've included two cropped photos that show the problem pretty clearly, both have only had their profile changed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I seriously doubt that your phone-based flashlight produces enough light output to cause significant damage to a sensor. This looks to me more like artifacts introduced by trying to boost shadows that are nearly or entirely clipped in one or two channels... \$\endgroup\$
    – twalberg
    Apr 19, 2018 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ You have truly put my mind at ease friend! I only recently began shooting in manual mode and I noticed shortly after posting this thread that my "exposure compensation" is at a 5. I always try to get the sky at least semi blue (in other words, not completely white) and the ground decently exposed. They always appear perfect on the back of my camera, but I suppose the exposure compensation could be luring me into thinking the exposure is correct but in reality it's destroying my shadows? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ellul
    Apr 19, 2018 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EllulWilmshurst33 That's a possibility. Don't trust the Exposure Comp dial, instead look at a histogram of the scene. You can either look at it on a photo you just took or in live view. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 19, 2018 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


This looks like the shadow areas are clipping in one or more channels due to underexposure. Without risking the highlights of the image blowing out, there's not a lot you can do to avoid that in certain situations - cameras have a limited dynamic range that they can capture, between the brightest and darkest parts of an image. If the brightest parts of your image aren't blown out, you have a little room to increase the exposure (longer shutter and/or wider aperture); or if blown highlights are acceptable - depends on what you are trying to capture. Dynamic range also generally decreases with higher ISO, so using the lowest ISO you can get away with for the scene might help too.

The flashlight on a phone is not bright enough to damage a sensor, especially when you have the lens off and there's thus nothing to focus the light into a sharp point. But, even with a lens on, cell phone flashlights just aren't all that bright - directly aiming at the sun for a long period would be another matter, though...


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