The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offers 100x Space Zoom which combines optical zoom and computational processing. The feature is supposed to allow device owners to snap gorgeous pictures of the moon. But an interesting test done by a Reddit subscriber “ibreakphotos” says that the images of the moon delivered by the Galaxy S23 Ultra are faked.
He wrote, “Many of us have witnessed the breathtaking moon photos taken with the latest zoom lenses, starting with the S20 Ultra. Nevertheless, I’ve always had doubts about their authenticity, as they appear almost too perfect. While these images are not necessarily outright fabrications, neither are they entirely genuine.” So after downloading a hi-res image of the moon, he reduced the resolution of the image and added a Gaussian blur (using a mathematical function to blur the image) so that the details of the moon were gone.
Samsung uses AI and ML to produce great shots of the moon taken by the Galaxy S23 Ultra
On one end of his room, he put that image on his computer monitor and then went to the other end of the room, turned off the light, and zoomed in on the monitor using his Galaxy S23 Ultra. The result? The image became a detailed photo of the moon looking nothing like the white blob on the computer screen. While Samsung truthfully says that “no image overlaying or texture effects are applied, it does use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to improve photographs of the moon.
Test shows that Samsung uses AI and ML to create gorgeous shots of the moon with the Galaxy S23 Ultra
The Reddit subscriber who ran the above test added, “I hope you can appreciate that Samsung is leveraging an AI model to put craters and other details on places which were just a blurry mess.” And while some are excusing Samsung by saying that this is not an example of deceptive marketing, others say that the manufacturer isn’t clearly explaining how these images are produced.
Now, this isn’t the first time that Samsung has been accused of faking a moon shot. Three years ago, photos of the moon taken with the 100x Space Zoom on the Galaxy S20 Ultra were also criticized as being faked. At the time, Sammy said that its “Super Resolution AI” helped process the shots and that no overlays were used. In a statement, Samsung stated, “At one push of the shutter, up to 20 frames are captured and processed at instantaneous speeds. Advanced AI then evaluates and corrects thousands of fine details to produce detailed images even at high magnification levels.”
One manufacturer allegedly used pre-existing images of the moon to trick consumers
As long as overlays aren’t used, what is the difference between using AI and Machine Learning tools to produce great-looking images of the moon? After all, Google uses computational photography on its Pixel handsets and those cameras are widely lauded. The key part of the sentence is “as long as overlays aren’t used.” After all, it’s not like a different photo of the moon is replacing the one that you photographed with your Galaxy S23 Ultra. That is where the line should be drawn.
Picture of the moon used by Huawei to promote the P30 Pro’s Moon Mode
And yes, there have been accusations about a phone manufacturer using overlays of the moon to trick consumers. Back in 2019, the Huawei P30 Pro’s Moon Mode was promoted by the manufacturer as being capable of snapping beautiful close-up photos of the moon without a tripod. But one researcher by the name of Wang Yue said that Huawei was using more than just AI and attempted to show that previously photographed images of the moon were being inserted into pictures taken by the P30 Pro.
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Wang’s theory was never proven, and while some of our readers claimed to have debunked it, Moon Mode remains mired in controversy. Huawei later said, “Moon Mode operates on the same principle as other master AI modes, in that it recognizes and optimizes details within an image to help individuals take better photos. It does not in any way replace the image – that would require an unrealistic amount of storage space since AI mode recognizes over 1,300 scenarios.”
The company continued, “Based on machine learning principles, the camera recognizes a scenario and helps to optimize focus and exposure to enhance the details such as shapes, colors, and highlights/lowlights. This feature can be turned on or off easily while taking a photo. While there is a Moon Mode, the shot can still be taken without AI mode because of the periscope lens.”
So what do you think? Is Samsung trying to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes or is it merely doing something that most phone manufacturers do, which is use AI to improve users’ photographs.