March 20, 2011

The Panasonic AF100 and the Truth About 'Sensor Flare'

A thread popped up recently on DVXuser that claimed the Panasonic AF100 had a serious design flaw. The sensor would exhibit unacceptable flare when a bright light was pointed into the lens, the post claimed. I can't like to the thread, as it's since been deleted -- because Panasonic is trying to keep a problem under wraps? Not at all. It was deleted because, in the words of moderator/author Barry Green, it was simply FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). So what's the deal with the sensor flare on the AF100 -- and on other cameras as well?

Here's the kind of flare that was, in some minds, cause for concern:

Click through on the link below to see the Panasonic GH2 video, which exhibits the same issues. So is it just a Panasonic issue? Well, take a look at the Sony F3 video I shared previously -- there at 0:45 is the same flare:

Video is no longer available:

Even this new low-light RED EPIC footage exhibits flare (around 30 seconds in):

So, as you can guess -- or as you probably already knew -- all cameras exhibit reflected flare when you point a bright light into the lens. Even film cameras. So why the new cause for concern? One guess: our cameras are getting so sensitive that folks are getting used to being able to shoot in any situation, without setting up lights. It used to be that when you needed lots of lights to get a properly exposed image, you were not going to have the problem of a single source of light shining directly into the camera (and outshining the rest of the scene). Now that we expect our cameras to capture light in any situation, we're spoiled to the point of complaining about flare that's always been there. I will say this: I've discovered on more than one occasion that my UV filter -- even a top-quality filter like those from B+W or Hoya -- was adding to the internal reflections. So next time you have a complaint about flares like those seen above, I recommend trying the same shot without your UV filter -- or, you know, moving the light.

Link: "Sensor Flares" - what's the truth? - DVXuser

Your Comment


It is great being able to find research online to help correct issues your having but so many times I find people complaining about stuff like noise at 1600iso or whatever. 10 years ago video had noise period. This didn't stop people from making good content on video you just learn to work with it.

Len flares can be something people get excited about because sometimes it looks awesome.

Thanks for this post and calling it like it is. Also thank to Barry Green for keeping as a good resource for knowledge.

March 20, 2011 at 11:11AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


What is wrong with people?

Unfortunately it seems a lot of this nonsense probably comes from people who don't shoot movies, they just watch sample movies online and pixel peep everything to hell.

As you correctly state, this is a lens issue, not a sensor issue. (or film issue for that matter) Specifically this issue gets a lot worse if you've got a UV filter or some sort of filter with a matte box. So I'm glad you're calling it like it is, Koo.

It's a non-issue. All lenses experience flare in dark areas with single points of light. Especially when these points are at the right angle as compared to the height and angle of the camera.

March 20, 2011 at 11:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Funny thing. I personally know the guy who started the DVX User thread. He wouldn't show me any of the sample footage, and all he said is that the camera had a flaw. By the time he told me about the deleted thread, it was already deleted, and he kept crying that it was a Panasonic cover up. I am glad to see the other side now. I suspected he was making a mountain of a mole hill, and I see that I was correct.

March 20, 2011 at 11:57AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


March 20, 2011 at 2:39PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Second and third what everyone is saying. As a long-time still photographer coming to HDSLR video I first noticed this back in 2000/2001 when I got a Nikon D1. I ran tests then it was clear that the main culprit was filters; especially the UV filters I had on my still lenses for protection. I pretty much stopped using them at that point.

I don't know why it's more prominent with digital as opposed to film (I don't recall ever noticing it with film) but it's not unique to video. As seen in some of Ringo's links - particular brand of filter and the camera settings can determine how much or how little is seen.

I have seen this in big budget movies - e.g. car driving up a dark road at night, coming towards the camera and then turning way. In the frame, opposite the actual headlights, is a ghost image of the lights, moving in a similar fashion.

March 20, 2011 at 3:54PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


your wardrobe of different seasons Gucci handbags make a come back again and again

April 4, 2012 at 8:57AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

You voted '+1'.

Still, you can't deny that the DVXUser mods have a very very strong Panasonic bias and will delete opposing comments ferociously. Barry Green being the worst culprit of all.

March 24, 2011 at 12:37PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Did any one see the last Flare Trek, oops I mean Star Trek film? :-)

March 24, 2011 at 1:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Pauly D

I think the anamorphic lens flares in Star Trek were pretty cool. I liked them.

The visual effects artists on computer games always add lens flares to make the games look more real. Go figure...

UV filters as protective glass don't only produce additional (mostly ugly) flares, they also reduce contrast. I would only use protective filters when there is real, serious danger for my lenses (like when holding the camera out of a car window on a dirt road)

March 26, 2011 at 9:22AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Loved Star Trek as well. I felt that the creative use of flares in the anamorphic lenses accentuated the idea of an artificial atmosphere in the ship created to sustain life on board.

March 27, 2011 at 8:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Pauly D

Your article doesn't explain why the 'ghosting' disappears with the internal ND filter (and appropriate Gain to bring the image back up).

I also did a side by side test with the Sony F3 and the 'ghosting' flare only appeared on the AF100 pointed towards a half covered fluorescent on the ceiling.

Try as I might I couldn't replicate the 'ghosting' flare on the F3. And again, the issue disappeared when the internal ND filter was put in.

April 11, 2011 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Duraid Munajim

Did you use exactly the same optics on both cameras in your test?

October 11, 2011 at 12:19AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM