Samsung has offered 100x zoom and the ability to capture shots of the moon on its “Ultra” smartphones for the past few generations, but that feature came under fire this week following a compelling test claiming the photos were faked. Now, Samsung is once again explaining how its moon photos work and why they aren’t completely fake.

Posted to its website today, Samsung explains “how Samsung Galaxy cameras combine super resolution technologies with AI technology to produce high-quality images of the moon.” The lengthy post explains from start to finish how the company’s “Ultra” devices are able to capture these pictures of the moon, despite that subject being so difficult for other devices to capture.

The post may feel familiar if you’ve read up on this latest round of controversy surrounding the feature, and that’s because it’s the same post Samsung released last year. The only difference this time is that it’s officially translated into English and also, more specifically, addresses taking pictures of an existing image of the moon.

Samsung continues to improve Scene Optimizer to reduce any potential confusion that may occur between the act of taking a picture of the real moon and an image of the moon.

Samsung’s “Space Zoom” feature came under fire following a Reddit post that tested the feature by showing a blurry image of the moon as the source, only to find that the Samsung device had sharpened the image and added details that weren’t available in the source image. It was a compelling test that really made it feel like Samsung was pulling a fast one on customers, but in reality, it just takes a bit of reasoning to see the flaw.

As we explained yesterday, and as Samsung reiterated today, the aggressive AI used to create these moon photos is just doing its job. It’s filling in the gaps that you’d get from a blurry difficult-to-capture subject. To repeat ourselves:

AI is what makes these moon shots possible, and pictures like these really show us just how aggressive that AI is and how easy it is to fool. A blurry image of the moon is technically what the camera is already seeing, so it does make sense that the result of taking a picture of a blurry picture of the moon would result in something sharper.

It’s not creating the image out of nothing, and it needs the image from your smartphone’s sensor to then use the AI to create the final shot. You can sort of compare it to a puzzle. Putting together a 1,000-piece puzzle would be incredibly difficult if you didn’t have the artwork on the box to help out. Similarly, Samsung’s pictures aren’t entirely original, but they’re also not completely fake.

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Ben Schoon

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