A few days ago, a Reddit post sparked a new debate asking if the Galaxy S23 Ultra was faking its moon photos. Ever since Samsung started offering a periscope-style telephoto camera on its flagships that offers an unprecedented 10x optical zoom and an unprecedented 100x digital zoom, moon photography has been marketed as one of the hottest phone gimmicks.
However, there is some valid history behind the skepticism. In 2019, Huawei faced allegations that the P30 Pro’s Moon Mode was faking the images using an overlay system, though the company denied this. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is in a similar storm, but the company has now explained how you get those sharp moon shots with its flagship.
What Samsung has to say about all this
Digital Trends reached out to Samsung with a series of questions about the technical shenanigans that go on behind the scenes. Here’s what the company had to say in an email response:
“When a user takes a photo of the moon, the AI-based scene optimization technology recognizes the moon as the main object and takes multiple shots for multi-frame composition, after which the AI enhances the quality details. of the image and colors. It does not apply any image overlays to the photo.”
Simply put, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is doing what almost all smartphone cameras do by default, which is applying a layer of edits to improve the end result. In Samsung’s case, that improvement comes courtesy of the Scene Optimizer feature, which you can choose to turn off at will.
“Users can turn off the AI-based Scene Optimizer, which will disable automatic detail enhancements of the photo taken by the user,” Samsung tells Digital Trends. If you choose to disable Scene Optimizer on your Galaxy S23 Ultra, images of the moon that are clicked at 100x digital zoom will not look as sharp.
So is the Galaxy S23 really faking it?
No, it is not. In fact, referring to those blown-up moon pictures as fake is like calling your own selfies unreal if you’ve applied some filters like skin smoothing, exposure adjustment, and color enhancement to make them Instagram-ready. As mentioned above, the Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t engage in any sort of approximation overlay. Instead, you’re just refining the final result with no linear distortions on your subject, which in this case is the moon.
Scene Optimizer is an AI-assisted tool that automatically detects what’s in view of the camera and then makes some adjustments to attributes like saturation, exposure, and white balance to improve the end result. That’s why when you click on a photo (especially in night mode and full resolution 200 megapixel shots) and immediately open the gallery preview, it takes a while for the photo to load as Scene Optimizer is busy. applying its own set of enhancements.
In the case of the moon, the system sharpens edges and refines surface textures that would otherwise appear blurry. Photo post-processing is a recurring theme with smartphone cameras, but at the end of the day, it’s in your control to get the original look or a slightly tweaked one to make it more presentable. It is always welcome to see a company disclose the process and offer a resource.