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In context: Samsung has recently been the face of considerable controversy regarding the cameras on its Galaxy line of smartphones. Recent tests with Moon images have shown that its devices are doing extra work under the hood, leading to Samsung releasing a report to explain the situation.
Samsung recently celebrated the launch of its latest flagship, the Galaxy S23. One of the most highly touted features of the new devices is the whopping 200-megapixel camera on the S23 Ultra. The Ultra also supports a digital zoom magnification of up to 100x, which Samsung nicknamed "Space Zoom."
As we recently pointed out, Space Zoom is not as simple as Samsung claims. A Reddit user by the name of "ibreakphotos" performed some in-depth tests to demonstrate that Samsung is doing extra work under the hood to improve details on what would typically be low-quality and grainy images.
After days of the controversy, Samsung released a blog post explaining what is truly happening within the camera once it activates Space Zoom.
According to Samsung, the Ultra's camera uses multiple artificial intelligence (AI) models that allow users to get the best image possible. The first is Super Resolution, which kicks in at 25x zoom. This feature takes 10 photos simultaneously and combines them to "eliminate noise and enhance clarity and other details."
Scene Optimizer is another AI used in this situation. It detects if the camera is aimed at the Moon, regardless of the phase. Samsung trained the system with thousands of Moon photos, so once it recognizes the familiar nighttime object, it further enhances details (above). A third AI model auto-adjusts exposure to prevent the washout caused by the Moon's high contrast against the night sky (below).
Finally, the phone uses auto image stabilization through a "Zoom Lock" function to prevent movement-caused blur. Samsung's explanation of using AI seems much more justifiable than the rumors stating that the phone's AI applied an image of the Moon over the original picture.
The controversy regarding Samsung's cameras and the Space Zoom feature may have been somewhat overblown—at least from the company's viewpoint. Smartphone manufacturers are no strangers to using AI in their cameras. In this situation, Samsung's system merely allows users to get a great image of the distant Moon, a feat that seemed impossible a few years ago.