The beautiful images of the moon taken with a recent high-end Samsung Galaxy are apparently faked. A Reddit user took a picture of a low-resolution moon picture and got a high-res picture.
In other words, Galaxy Ultra cameras aren’t as powerful as people claim.
Samsung ‘space zoom’ moon pictures are unbelievably good. Literally.
Samsung added an astrophototography mode to the Galaxy S20 Ultra and has continued to built it into subsequent models.
The 100x “space zoom” allows users to capture stunning pictures of the moon quite easily. This takes little more than changing a couple of settings, pointing the camera at the moon and snapping a pic.
The result is unbelievably good. Pictures of the moon taken with an iPhone are a blurry, over-exposed mess, while ones taken with a Galaxy are crystal clear. This has been taken as proof of the superiority of Samsung cameras.
‘The moon pictures from Samsung are fake’
Reddit user ibreakphotos took that “unbelievably good” bit to heart and set out to investigate. And they showed that moon images taken with a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and earlier are faked by applying a moon texture on top of the image taken by the phone camera.
The Redditor’s experiment involved opening a picture of the moon on a desktop monitor, then reducing the resolution. In short, they blurred out most of the details. The result was still recognizable as the moon, but barely.
They then took a picture of the monitor with that image on it with a Samsung Galaxy from the other side of the room. The result was a crystal-clear image of the moon. That image contains details that simply are not in the original.
“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,” said ibreakphotos in the Reddit post.
Samsung’s explanation of the “space zoom” feature implies that this is what happens while glossing over the extent of the replacement.
“From Galaxy S21, even when you take a picture of the moon, AI recognizes the target as the moon through learned data, and multi-frame synthesis and deep learning-based AI technology at the time of shooting. The detail improvement engine function that makes the picture clearer has been applied,” says Samsung’s CamCyclopedia in a machine translation.
An AI trick
By allowing users to think that the image of the moon they are shown came from their own camera, Samsung is being deliberately deceptive. All the camera image is being used for is to enable the AI to recognize the moon. What shows up on the final image is an AI creation.
AI trickery like this is easily done with the moon because it always turns one face toward the earth – it is tidally locked. It’s not possible to get a different angle on the moon without getting into a spaceship. So the AI need only match the phase of the moon and tweak for lighting conditions.
There have been calls for Apple to add an astrophotography mode to the iPhone. They can save their time if all it’s going to be is it trick similar to Samsung‘s.