Have you ever taken a photo and wondered “why does white turn purple on my digital camera?” This phenomenon is a chromatic aberration known as color fringing or purple fringing, and it can happen even with the best digital camera. Fortunately, there is a simple way to fix or prevent this.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • If you notice a purple or violet color in high-contrast or white areas of your photo, you’re experiencing a phenomenon known as purple fringing.
  • Purple fringing is an optical issue caused by a failure in the lens system.
  • You can fix purple fringe using the color saturation correction tools in photo editing software.

What is Purple Fringe?

In digital color photography, purple fringing is an optical issue that occurs in digital cameras and affects the color of your image. It is caused when there’s a failure in the lens system, preventing it from focusing on all the colors simultaneously.

The lens acts as a prism, separating the light into different color wavelengths as it enters. These wavelengths of color travel at different speeds. If the lens can’t bring all of them to the same focal plane, it will cause purple fringe or another chromatic aberration.

Insider Tip

Putting a UV filter on your lens will help prevent purple fringe.

What Does Purple Fringe Look Like

When purple fringing occurs, you will notice purple discoloration instead of accurate colors around the boundary of high contrast areas within a picture. It often happens when you’ve shot an image in low-light situations with a brighter background. Depending on the defect in the lens, you may also notice other colors as well, including blue, green, and red.

How to Prevent Purple Fringing

If you notice any kind of chromatic aberration, the first step is to avoid shooting images with your lens set to the widest aperture. A lower will minimize any lens defects. It also helps to set your focal length to the middle of your lens’ range. Centering your subject in the frame and avoiding high-contrast scenes will also go a long way towards reducing color fringe. Adding a UV filter to your lens can also help.

Please keep in mind, however, that these actions won’t always resolve purple fringing issues, but they can help on certain occasions.

Just like the reason why your camera says file error after deleting digital photos, purple fringe is also a mechanical malfunction. The best way to fix it is by using an image editor like Gimp or Photoshop to correct white balance and color temperatures.

Correcting Purple Fringe in Editing Software

Unlike other mechanical issues that cause image issues, such as when you’re trying to understand why your digital camera freezes up after taking a photo, it’s possible to fix purple fringing using color correction settings in a program like Photoshop. All you need to do is follow these simple steps.

  1. Open Image Editor

If you’re using Photoshop, open the application on your Mac or Windows computer. Then, click on “Adjustment” under the “Image” tab.

  1. Adjust Saturation/Hue

Find the “Saturation/Hue” option. You could also do this as an adjustment layer if you need to mask off some sections of the picture.

  1. Master the Image

Under “Adjustment,” find “Master.” Then hover over it and select “Blues” to locate the blue channel.

  1. Use Eyedropper

Once you have the right color channel, use the eyedropper tool and pick the left-most eyedropper.

  1. Fine Tune Saturation on Slider

On your image, click on areas where there are noticeable signs of purple fringing. Then, hover to the saturation slide bar, and drag the slider to the left side to somewhere between -70 and -80.

  1. Check if Picture Needs Further Refinement

Finally, check on the picture to see if you need to make any more adjustments. Sometimes, adjusting one color may affect the rest of the image. If you used an adjustment layer, mask out the sections you don’t want to affect.

Warning

Avoid using wide aperture settings and keep your focal length to the middle of your lens’ range when shooting images in high-contrast or brightly lit locations.

F.A.Q.S

How do you correct lighting in your photos?

The best way to correct lighting in your photos is to use an image editor such as Gimp or Photoshop and make adjustments on “Hue” and “Saturation.” You can also make adjustments on “Exposure” before taking pictures on a digital camera.


Why are shades of different colors not appearing well in the photographs?

It all boils down to the color temperature of the environment in which you took the picture. Cool temperatures will have blue tones while warm temperatures will have tones of yellow. White balancing will fix this issue.


Why adjust the white balance?

As the name suggests, it is used to adjust the balance of color in the environment in which you are taking pictures. For instance, white balance can counteract the yellow or orange effect of artificial light.


What are other names for purple fringing?

Purple fringing is also known as color fringing or chromatic aberration.


STAT: Canon was the global leader in the digital camera market in 2020, with a market share of over 45 percent. Sony and Nikon followed closely with 20 and 19 percent, respectively. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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