Is This a Real Photograph?

Photography has often been described as the capture of light on a sensitive medium and its reproduction. But what happens when there's a significant amount of manipulation before the final image can be created? Even more importantly, what happens when this is instantaneous and seamless? Is it a photograph that you've just taken? These are questions that we will have to answer for ourselves in the near future.

In this video, YouTuber Marques Brownlee of the MKBHD YouTube channel dives into the controversy that has surrounded Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra recently. The phone's "Space Zoom" camera with a 100x digital zoom was shown to be adding detail to severely blurred photographs of the moon, bringing out detail even when there was none to begin with. The question raised is whether this is an enhancement based on AI trained on the images of the moon or some sort of overlay. The optimizer can also be turned off in Samsung's app, so that is something to be aware of.

The experiment was first recorded by Redditor u/ibreakphotos. Brownlee explains the experiment and the possible implications for mobile photography and for computational photography as a whole in the future, posing the question: "what is a photo?"

That question becomes relevant in a world where data from multiple images sources and machine learning models are used to enhance landscapes, portraits, food, and more. What are your thoughts?

Susheel Chandradhas's picture

Susheel Chandradhas is a professional photographer and filmmaker based out of Chennai, India. He has a background in advertising and graphic design.

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If they couldn't fake or couldn't use AI ad nauseam to improve images they wouldn't sell phones to easy preys on a yearly basis.