Strange iPad 2 Camera Glitch

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Random Thoughts, Troubleshooting

I was doing some testing of the camera in the new iPad 2 and had this strange artifact start showing up on the sensor. It seems to be triggered by bright white points. I’m not sure at the moment if it is a defect or simply a shortcoming of the low end camera sensor Apple is using in the iPad 2. I get the effect in both video and stills. If you are experiencing similar issues or are a smart camera sensor engineer and know what’s causing this, please post in the comments or shoot an email my way (maccast at gmail dot com).

There are 8 comments on Strange iPad 2 Camera Glitch:

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  1. Rick | Mar 18 2011 - 08:06

    Not seeing it on mine Adam.

  2. Jeff | Mar 18 2011 - 09:47

    I’ve got a hunch that it’s a limitation of the low-end camera sensor. The bright light coming through your blinds is a huge contrast to the interior lighting, and the camera can’t adjust its exposure fast enough to compensate. Think about the glare spots you might see for a few minutes after you’ve looked at a bright light; the camera sensor suffers the same thing if it can’t adjust its aperture fast enough to eliminate the glare. In this case, you’re seeing “clipping” in the image highlights because of the over-exposure.

  3. Adam Christianson | Mar 18 2011 - 11:07

    Pretty much my theory too Jeff, but I’m for sure not an expert.

  4. Jeff | Mar 18 2011 - 03:44

    I wouldn’t quite call myself an expert…but I’ve been dabbling in DSLR photography for a couple of years, and took a course on Photoshop as part of my M.A. in professional writing & editing.

  5. Fred Zelders | Mar 21 2011 - 04:53

    The same kind of artifacts show up in video’s shot by the Creative Vado video cam I own.

  6. Damion Denton | Mar 28 2011 - 05:06

    I am getting the same green blotch artifacting however I think this is a defect because mine has gotten progressively worse and now completely blows out most of the time on the front facing camera. The rear camera is not as bad. I am on my way back to the apple store first thing tomorrow. This is a pic i snapped. The quality is horrible I am sure this must be a defect.

  7. Adam Christianson | Mar 30 2011 - 12:54

    Wow, that doesn’t look too good and doesn’t look like a white point issue.

  8. Ami Schreiber | May 03 2011 - 08:50


    I was having the EXACT same issues with my iPad 2 camera that Damion has in his sample photo. At first I thought that Apple just used REALLY crappy cameras (which is what I had been hearing all along) but I thought that this was way too poor -even by Apple standards. It was only after my friend’s iPad 2 arrived (same specs: 16gb Wifi only) that I knew something was actually defective. Although I only played with it for a few minutes, his camera did not seem to show any of the blotchy artifacts that mine did. That’s when I decided to head over to the Apple store and see if they had heard similar complaints from other customers or perhaps offer any explanations as to why it might be happening.

    The guy at the Genius bar watched me easily recreate the problem. I showed him all of the blotches that seemed to be random mixtures of red, blue, purple and sometimes green. He didn’t argue with me and proceeded to get me a new iPad 2 from the back room. After he gave me the new one I said that I wanted to test the camera before leaving the store. We ran it through the same tests, in the same lighting conditions and from the same angles and although the results were definitely better the blotchiness was clearly still present. It wasn’t nearly as pronounced as before but there were obvious traces of it around edges of my ears, cheeks and glasses. Also, the various Apple accessories that were hanging on the metal rods along walls had hints of the blotchiness most probably because of the way the metal was reflecting the light.

    I took the replacement iPad 2 but insisted that the Genius guy make a note that we did witness the same blotchy artifacts in that one as well.

    The first question I have is why hasn’t this issue been reported by more people? Is everyone else still too enamored by the newness factor of the iPad 2 to be able to find any flaws with it yet or do I happen to be the only one getting all these defective models? My buddy ordered his online directly from the Apple store. I bought my first one a few weeks ago from Radio Shack in Wheaton, MD and got my replacement from an Apple store in Rockville, MD. Is it possible that the batch of iPad 2s that were shipped to this area came with faulty cameras that were since fixed in China before shipping out my friend’s iPad?

    The second question is related to the issue itself. Is it hardware or software related? And can it be fixed with a software patch even if the hardware is faulty? Someone here reported that the issue actually got progressively worse over time. Maybe my friend’s camera will start acting up after a few weeks too. If that’s the case, then that would explain why the replacement iPad 2 I just got seemed “better”. Let’s see what happens over the next few days/weeks and I’ll let you all know if my new one starts acting up. If it does then I would think this is a hardware issue.