Samsung has recently published a blog post explaining how its latest smartphone model, the Samsung Galaxy S23, captures Moon photos using advanced processing techniques. Although the content is not entirely new and seems to be an edited translation of an original Korean-language article posted last year, it sheds some light on Samsung’s image processing technology. In response to a Reddit post that went viral, showing how much extra detail the Samsung camera software adds to Moon-like pictures, Samsung explained its “Scene Optimizer” feature that uses multiple techniques to create better Moon photos.
According to the Samsung blog post, published on Wednesday (March 15, 2023), the Scene Optimizer feature has been supporting Moon photography since the Galaxy S21 series. It combines different capabilities to produce better Moon photos. First, the Super-Resolution feature kicks in at a zoom level of 25x or higher and uses multi-frame processing to combine more than ten images to reduce noise and enhance clarity. It also optimizes the exposure so that the Moon does not look too bright in the dark sky and uses the “Zoom Lock” feature that combines optical and digital image stabilization to reduce image blur.
As reported by The Verge on Thursday (March 16, 2023), the initial identification of the Moon is done using a deep AI learning model that has been built based on various shapes and details of the Moon, from full Moon to crescent Moon, and based on images taken from our view on Earth. However, the key step that caused all the controversy is the use of an AI-powered detail enhancement engine that is less explained.
After the Multi-Frame Processing is done, the Galaxy camera then leverages a deep learning-based detail enhancement engine from the Scene Optimizer to effectively eliminate remaining noise and further enhance image details. This seems to be the stage that adds the extra detail that was not present in the initial photo and may explain why the additional testing by ibreakphotos, which added a plain gray box to the blurry Moon photo, resulted in an empty box that was given Moon-like texture by the Samsung camera software.
While this new blog post offers more details in English than what Samsung has publicly said before, it is unlikely to satisfy those who see any software that can create realistic Moon photos from blurry images as fake. Additionally, when the AI-powered zoom feature is used to promote the phone, Samsung runs the risk of misleading customers about the capabilities of its smartphone camera.
Previously, the Samsung Galaxy S23 was suspected of polishing its smartphone camera to produce desired image details through AI, not reality, in the case of Moon photos. This was revealed thanks to a Reddit user u/ibreakphotos, who intentionally created a blurry Moon photo without any details and displayed it on a computer screen before taking a picture using the Samsung S23 Ultra. The result was a sharp and clear Moon “photo.”