Lens flare is the light scattered in lens systems through generally unwanted image formation mechanisms, such as internal reflection and scattering from material inhomogeneities in the lens. Flare manifests itself in two ways: firstly as a haze across the image, making the image look "washed out" by reducing contrast and color saturation and secondly as visible artifacts.

Flare is particularly caused by a very bright light sources either in the image – which produces visible artifacts – or shining into the lens but not in the image – which produces a haze. Most commonly, this occurs when shooting into the sun (when the sun is in frame or the lens is pointed in the direction of the sun), and is reduced by using a lens hood or other shade.

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