Yes, Samsung 'fakes' its smartphone Moon photos – who cares?

Moon is real. Pictures of Moon are real. Phone uses lots of pictures of Moon to make your picture less crap

Comment By now most in the Anglosphere must have seen that Samsung ad for the Galaxy S23 Ultra where a woman snaps a detailed photo of the Moon – craters and all – moving her telescope-toting neighbor to ask: "Mia, can you send me that?"

Youtube Video

Well, here comes Reddit to spoil the fun.

A post last week on the r/Android subreddit screams: "Samsung 'space zoom' Moon shots are fake, and here is the proof."

The author introduces their hypothesis thus: "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."

One doesn't have to look hard to find heaps of people online sharing this healthy skepticism because it's a phone less than a centimeter thick – where do they hide the magic invisible telephoto lens to capture the lunar surface with such rugged clarity?

Obviously, it's "AI" and really nothing new to the world of smartphone photography. It's just down to whether you think Samsung is helping you take nicer pictures or actively trying to deceive people about the capability of its cameras.

Our intrepid redditor appears to fall into the latter camp (indignation gets more upvotes): "While many have tried to prove that Samsung fakes the Moon shots, I think nobody succeeded – until now."

How did a lone keyboard warrior shake the foundations of one of the world's most powerful technology corporations? They downloaded a nice hi-rez pic of the Moon, scaled it down to 170x170 pixels, blurred it to nuke the details, fullscreened it on their monitor, and took a photo with their Samsung.

This is what they got, and here's a side-by-side. How could you, Samsung?

"The Moon pictures from Samsung are fake," the poster rages. "Samsung's marketing is deceptive. It is adding detail where there is none... Samsung is using AI/ML (neural network trained on 100s of images of the Moon) to recover/add the texture of the Moon on your Moon pictures, and while some think that's your camera's capability, it's actually not."

It's going to be a lot more than hundreds of images, buddy. We're not sure anyone with even the slightest technical nous would honestly believe that a smartphone camera sensor is capable of capturing the Moon the same way our eyes do – and if they did, would it matter?

In the ad mentioned above, the woman takes a photo of the Moon and it looks good, not the bright white blob you'd normally expect on a phone camera. It doesn't make claims about the power of the lens or bajillions of megapixels or AI/ML trickery. All it suggests is that it takes nice photos – so much so that world+dog will be asking you to send them that.

We asked Samsung to comment, and will update the story if it responds. ®

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