What Is Lens Flare - Experts Reviews

A lens flare can significantly reduce image contrast by introducing haze in different colours, adding circular or semicircular halos, “ghosts”, or even strange-looking semitransparent objects of varying colour intensities. 

Even though flare is sometimes undesirable in photography, it can add artistic elements to images if used creatively.

Many movies and computer games deliberately include lens flares to add realism and enhance the visual experience for the viewer.

What is Lens Flare?

What Is Lens Flare by thevloggingtech.com

Lens flare occurs when a point of a light source outshines the rest of the scene, and it either shows up in the image or hits the lens’s front element without showing up in the image.

If the bright light source is positioned at a different angle to the camera, it can result in a haze, poor contrast, orbs, and various polygonal shapes in the image, or a mixture.

This is because internal reflections take place inside the lens and in between the imaging sensor and the lens. 

Light rays with a regular path (red) reach the image plane directly (green), whereas bright rays with a widened path (blue) can split and reflect off lens surfaces, ending up at different parts of the picture (dotted blue).

When travelling through a stopped-down lens, light can be reflected off the lens diaphragm, resulting in a flare that is more visible.

In spite of the existence of a general lens flare in the above illustration, manufacturers and photographers usually differentiate between veiling flares and ghosting flares.

Good lens elements with multicoated surfaces can reduce veiling flare significantly, though both usually go hand in hand.

Veiling Flare

What Is Lens Flare by thevloggingtech.com

The flare that occurs when a bright light is outside the lens’s angle of view but still reaches the front element occurs when a lens’s front element is outside the lens’s angle of view. 

Consequently, dark areas of the frames appear brighter and “washed out,” with haze and lack of contrast.

Reduced veiling flare is possible with high-quality lenses with multicoated elements. 

Sunlight penetrated the lens even though the sun was right above the child and outside the frame, creating a veiling flare.

Due to the veiling flare, hair, faces, and even clothing of the child were reduced in contrast as a result of the obscuring factor. It was actually on purpose that veil flare was permitted in this shot, providing a moody, bright feel.

In many cases, several factors can intensify veiling flare, including dust in the lens, dirt on the front element, dirty or low-quality lens filters, lack of anti-reflective multi-coatings, etc.

A picture of this effect can look awful in some cases.

There was a strong veiling flare produced by an old manual focus lens.

Ghosting Flare

What Is Lens Flare by thevloggingtech.com

A ghosted or ghosted image is comparable to the veiling flare, which makes images appear hazy and with little contrast.

The artefacts such as reflections and diaphragm patterns interact to create the ghosting effect.

Several different orbs of different colours and shapes appear in a direct line from the light source and can cover the entire image with dozens of different artifacts.

In addition to the veiling flare, you can also see various circular artifacts/orbs in each image called ghosts. It depends on how many elements there are in each lens as to how many ghosts there are.

Ghosts usually appear in images when there are more elements. A 70-200mm zoom lens has a complex, multi-element design, so you can see that most lenses suffer from glare and ghosting.

As I noted above, a lens’s diaphragm can also create internal reflections when a lens is stopped down.

As a result, aperture ghosting is apparent at small apertures such as f/1.4 but not noticeable at larger ones like f/16, mainly because it is magnified by stopping down the lens to its minimum aperture.

And when you see polygon-shaped ghosts in your images, they’re a result of the lens diaphragm.

Sensor / Red Dot Flare

What Is Lens Flare by thevloggingtech.com

A flare that occurs when light bounces between the lens elements and the imaging sensor is referred to as “red dot flare”, it can be called “sensor flare” as well.

Red dot flares are unlike lens flares because they reflect both lights from the imaging sensor to the lens and light back to the imaging sensor. 

Mirrorless cameras create red dots when they flare

In addition to the polygon-shaped aperture ghosts, several red dots surround the sun – they are microlenses on the digital camera sensor, which are amplified and visible.

Factors Impacting Lens Flare

What Is Lens Flare by thevloggingtech.com

Despite the use of multi-coating technologies in most modern lenses, the best of these lenses can still cause ghosting and even veiling flare when used on professional level cameras.

The angle at which light hits the lens (and subsequently the camera film/sensor) and the location of the light source in the frame, therefore, influence flare intensity and how it appears in images.

The other factors I have mentioned could also have a serious effect on images.

Let’s examine these more closely:

  • Lens Elements – the more elements on a lens, the more ghostly images you will see.
  • Focus Length – wide-angle lenses are designed to handle flare well, but their short focal lengths also make the light source seem smaller. The other issue with Telephoto lenses is that they have huge/long lens hoods and therefore perform much worse.
  • Lens Design – a good lens design will certainly affect flare. A lens design by Nikon, for example, features recessed front elements that, when combined with sophisticated coating technologies, can reduce flare, ghosting, and chromatic aberrations substantially.
  • Multi-Coatings – MRC (multiple coatings) lens elements definitely make a difference in flare performance
  • Filters – Low-quality filters produce more flare and ghosting issues in images.
  • Lens Dust – As lenses age, they accumulate dust, and internal dust can generate a veiling flare.
  • Front Element Cleanliness – Grease and other particles on the front element can also cause flares/ghosting.

Avoid Lens Flare

What Is Lens Flare by thevloggingtech.com

There are simple steps to prevent flare from appearing in your images:

The following steps will help you avoid lens flare

  • Protect your lens with a lens hood
  • That’s right – there’s a reason why lens hoods exist. They greatly reduce the amount of direct sunlight reaching the front element.
  • If you have an object in your hand, use it.
  • By simply placing your hand over the lens, you can completely eliminate ghosting and flares. Easy to use and effective!
  • Invest in high-quality lenses
  • Despite their high price tag, professional lenses often have amazing coatings that help significantly reduce or even eliminate flare issues.
  • Instead of zoom lenses, use prime lenses.
  • It is generally recognized that prime lenses have simpler optical formulas and fewer elements than zoom lenses. Flare will appear less in images when you deal with fewer elements.
  • Shift perspectives/frames.
  • You can often make a dramatic difference in your lighting just by moving the light source around.

In the right-hand corner of the picture, you can see a lens flare.

Sadly, while keeping the lens hood on is a good idea and knowing you can block off the light with your hand or other objects is a good idea, including the sun in an image will negate any other efforts you have made.

The best options are changing the perspective or framing completely in those situations or only using high-quality lenses with multicoated elements.


How is lens flare caused?

A bright light source causes a lens flare source. Light sources that are located differently in the frame can produce different effects on lens flare. The light rays from a very bright light source (such as the sun) can reach the front of the lens and cause a flare, even if the light source itself is not visible in the image.

How to Get Rid of Lens Flare?

You can completely eliminate lens flare by excluding bright light sources from your frame, as well as blocking their rays from reaching your lens. It would help if you used the lens hood when taking pictures in daylight so that the sun’s rays do not reach the front of the lens.

What Can You Do to Prevent Lens Flare at Night?

Using small apertures can increase the effects of flare when you shoot at night. If you wish to reduce lens flare in your images, avoid using small apertures. Further, choose a lens with a high-quality coating, which will help you deal with lens flare. Last but not least, make sure all lens filters are removed from your lens