Samsung's 'fake' moon shots
When it comes to photography, how much AI is too much?
Welcome back to Multicore for Tuesday, March 14th.
A years-old controversy resurfaced in tech circles over the weekend. Reddit user u/ibreakphotos conducted some experiments that seem to prove that Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, adds extra, artificial detail to its "space zoom" photos of the moon. In u/ibreakphotos' tests, they were able to get a sharp picture out of the S23 Ultra by focusing it on a deliberately blurry moon photo displayed on a computer screen.
The widespread accusation is that Samsung is essentially faking these photos. After all, if you're taking pictures of a low-res white circle and getting selenographic details like craters and mountains back, what are you really capturing yourself when you do shoot the actual moon?
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Samsung is not the first company to face these accusations, nor is it the only vendor to offer this kind of feature. Huawei was the subject of similar controversy in 2019 with its P30 Pro, while you can find near-identical "supermoon" modes on phones from the likes of Xiaomi and Vivo today.
There's been speculation that the camera software is literally overlaying pre-rendered image files of the moon into its photos, which both Huawei and Samsung have denied. I don't think that's exactly what's going on, but I do think this specific use case is perfectly positioned to serve as a flashpoint for how we view computational photography.
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