SEVERE iPhone 4 White Balance Issue (Detailed With Extensive Pics) Updated 7/5

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by lcdbot27, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. lcdbot27 macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2007
    I purchased a 32GB iPhone 4 on 6/24. I noticed when taking pictures in my bedroom, the pictures were overly yellow. I chalked this up to the white balance on the phone not being able to handle the CFL lighting in here.

    However, a few days ago, I was playing around with my girlfriend's 16GB iPhone 4, and hers did not exhibit the same extreme yellowing as mine did.

    I called Applecare and I did a swap on my iPhone 4 in a local Apple Store. I thought the new phone had corrected the issue, however, after further testing, I can say that it has not.

    There is either a hardware or software defect in the iPhone 4 32 that throws off the white balance in CFL lighting much more than the 16GB iPhone 4.

    Here are the pictures to prove the issue:



    As a comparitive measure, here is a photo of a white piece of paper on my desk taken with a DSLR (Canon Rebel T2i).


    This photo was taken with my girlfriend's 16GB iPhone 4. There is some yellowing.


    This photo was taken with my iPhone 4 32GB. The yellow is much more extreme.


    Next I took a picture of the same piece of paper straight on.


    This is from the Canon Rebel T2i DSLR.


    This is from my old iPhone 3G.


    This is from my girlfriend's iPhone 4 16GB.


    This is from my iPhone 4 32GB.


    All three phones lined up: iPhone 3G, iPhone 4 16GB, iPhone 4 32GB.


    As I stated before, I've already replaced my iPhone 4 once for this problem. I am not sure if it affects all 32GB models, but there is definitely a difference between the 16GB model and the 32GB.

    I know a phone camera isn't going to necessarily handle white balance the greatest with CFL bulbs, however the variance between the same iPhone model is very concerning.

    UPDATE!!! 7/5 With Replacement iPhone 4:

    Got home really late last night, so I wasn't able to do any super extensive testing, but here is one picture I took last night with my latest replacement phone (the phone came from a black box refurb at an Apple store).

    You can see the white stripe on the cup is more accurate in its white balance than the whites in my previous photos.

    Very promising!

  2. koilvr macrumors 6502


    Jun 15, 2010
    Knoxville, TN
    I am also noticing this issue on my 32 gb iphone4, Out side thou it does an amazing job but in the house under lights specially those low energy CFL's It sucks
  3. KameronBriggs macrumors 6502


    Feb 8, 2010
    Somewhere Sunny, California
    dude, is it just me or does your girlfriend's picture have a MAJOR green spot in the middle?
  4. lcdbot27 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2007
    Yes. The green spot is another fantastic byproduct of CFL lighting. A lot of camera phones do this. It's been detailed in other threads here, but there's not that much that can be done about it beyond potential software tweaking. It's usually not noticeable unless you're shooting something with no detail, like a blank wall or piece of paper.
  5. romeo.xk macrumors 6502a

    Mar 26, 2009

    I can see that too, and my monitor get calibrated every 2 weeks...
  6. PNutts macrumors 601


    Jul 24, 2008
    Pacific Northwest, US
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A293 Safari/6531.22.7)

    Definitely out of balance.
  7. dagomike macrumors 65816

    Jun 22, 2007
    AWB on any camera is mixed bag. I'd suggest making sure you're selecting the focus on the desired object. That seems to help for me. Otherwise, just adjust it in a photo software. It's still a camera phone.
  8. coasterider macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Washington, DC
    This is purely a software problem due to lighting and not the actual camera. I guess we are just going to have to use a photo editing program such as photoshop to fix it. I did a test with a piece of paper and used the Photoshop app on phone to fix it to its natural white color in like two seconds.
  9. lcdbot27 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2007
    If it's purely software, the 16GB and 32GB model should produce identical results, no?
    I know I can fix this stuff in post (Lightroom does a bang-up job fixing it), but with camera phones, you just want to be able to shoot and not worry about color correcting just so they look normal.

    I don't understand the AWB discrepancy between iPhone 4 models, and the variance between the front and the back camera.
  10. joneildu macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    To be fair here, your canon is off as well. You need a gray card. I don't think there's a way to adjust WB in the cell unless there's an app on the app store that allows it. Auto WB isn't typically that great, especially when metering strait white (or black). The camera sees it as an overexposure and tries to compensate ("18%" reflectance rule).

    Meter the 16 and 32 with the same lighting on the same object, I'm sure you'll get similar results. In your room, there's a white and black subject, and I don't really know how the iphone meters or where the focus was, but it could have played tricks on the reflectance and caused the WB issue.
  11. sneezymarble macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2008
    My wife and I have noticed this too. Although, in our case, her 16GB's photos look identical to my 32GB's photos, as far as I can tell - that is to say, they both look way too yellow. The indoor pictures we've taken of our daughter make her skin look like this:

  12. coasterider macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Washington, DC
    I'm not sure on difference between the 16 and 32 but is there a difference every time? How many times did you take the picture and was the circumstance exactly the same? As for the front vs back camera, they are two different types of cameras, front camera is a VGA camera compared to the 5 megapixel camera on the back.
  13. lcdbot27 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2007
    joneildu, I understand your point, I was simply using the Canon with its AWB switched on as a neutral (non-Apple) test base. I realize that it's not totally white, but I was trying to do everything on auto as a somewhat level playing field.

    Here is the initial photo comparison where I realized there was a more severe issue with my 32GB model (these are reposted from a previous thread I had replied to where someone had a similar issue).

    My phone:

    Her phone:

    And yes, there is a difference every time.

    I realize there is a difference between the 5MP camera and the VGA front facing, but I would assume the software AWB control is regulating both.

    I'm would never ever expect a camera phone to give me true whites everytime, but I think my camera is shooting a very extreme shade of yellow when confronted with CFL lighting.
  14. joneildu macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Did a test.

    Put 2 white envelopes on my black table. That should meter WB correctly, as the reflectance from the white should counter the reflectance from the black (and vice versa). I found that under CFL lighting, I get the same yellowing effect. I force flash, and the white balance is perfect. The issue is lighting.

    2 yellow shots are no flash fired
    2 correct shots are with flash fired.

    Edit: have to resize, give me a second.
  15. ToroidalZeus macrumors 68020


    Dec 8, 2009
    the quality control on iphone screens is crap, some are the right color temp but most are wrong
  16. joneildu macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    Edit: here...

    shot with a 16gb.

    Attached Files:

  17. lcdbot27 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2007
    ^ VERY interesting find! I would try that now but the woman is asleep and I'd be castrated if I turned on the lights.

    I'd prefer to not fire the flash in seemingly decently lit circumstances, but if that fixes the white balance with CFL's, it will have to do. Better than having to open up Lightroom for dinky little iPhone pics!
  18. joneildu macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    This picture here makes me curious. This is a picture of a white piece of paper shot by each respective phone, correct?


    The 3G metered correctly, but neither 4 did. I'm betting they have it metered for flash lighting conditions in the 4. Seems to make sense since flash on the 4's balance fine, and the 3g (with no built in flash) also balances. hmmmm
  19. coasterider macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Washington, DC
    Ok so I too am now confused as to why the 16 is taking a different WB than the 32. You got me..
  20. lcdbot27 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2007
    Correct. You can see the variance between phones.
  21. Beast10101 macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2010
    Quick question

    Did your replacement iphone 4 come in a black box? It seems like the people who get these black box replacements have no problems with their phones.
  22. valkraider macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2004
    These are two pictures taken with my iPhone4 from almost the same spot immediately one after another. The room is lit by a CFL light. Both used the LED flash.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Notice how before my daughter is in the picture the white balance looks OK, but as soon as she is there with her blue/purple clothes the white balance gets way out of whack.

    This is definitely a software issue, white balance [AWB] processing is a software function. Even on my high end Canon cameras, the AWB is a software function and can be reprogrammed with a firmware update. There is no dedicated AWB hardware in the iPhone 4. And since the AWB works fine in some situations but not others - it is software.

    What is happening is the frequency, temperature, and type of some people's lighting (like mine) is throwing off the iPhone 4 AWB. Some people can't reproduce it maybe because it is a fairly specific combination of factors which make the AWB processing confused.

    I do not have yellow pictures all the time.
  23. The Phazer macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2007
    London, UK
    You have it very bad, especially on the 32GB. Interesting that there's such a level of variation.

    I do hope the forthcoming software fix tweaks the white balance control and the exposure control - I'm finding a very significant tendency to over expose causing burnouts in some areas.

    There's not anything in the app store giving up aperture/shutter/iso/wb control is there?

  24. ct2k7 macrumors 603


    Aug 29, 2008
    London or Florida
    Just out of interest, what breed is your cat, and does s/he have a blue mouth?

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