Samsung Caught Using DSLR Photo to Fake Its Phone’s ‘Portrait Mode’

Smartphones are sometimes marketed these days as being capable of shooting “DSLR-quality photos.” Samsung went a step further: it was just caught using an actual DSLR photo to fake its smartphone’s “portrait mode.”

Serbia-based photographer Dunja Djudjic was recently notified by the photo sharing service EyeEm that someone had licensed one of the 63 photos she had uploaded to the platform, which doubles as a stock marketplace.

The photo shows Djudjic herself holding a leaf in front of her mouth. Tagged with labels such as “beautiful woman,” “long hair,” and “nature,” the photo can be licensed for any editorial and commercial use for $250.

Curious as to who the mysterious licensee was, Djudjic did a reverse image search to see if she could locate where it was being used.

To her surprise, the first result was the official Samsung Malaysia page for the Samsung Galaxy A8 Star smartphone. And upon scrolling down, this is what she saw:

Two differently-edited versions of the photo (with an entirely different background) were being used to show before and after examples of what the phone’s “portrait mode” photos can do through adding artificial background blur to photos:

The version “showing” level 0 background blur. Samsung’s edit of the photo by Dunja Djudjic.
The version “showing” level 7 background blur. Samsung’s edit of the photo by Dunja Djudjic.

“Focus where needed,” the section states. “Take portrait shots that pops [sic]. Thanks to it’s [sic] high-performance dual camera system with 16MP and 24MP lenses, Galaxy A8 Star can capture stunning images. You can manually manage the depth of field to focus on the object you want.”

The problem was, nowhere on the page did it state that the photos were simulated and not actually captured using the smartphone and its “portrait mode.”

“My first reaction was to burst out into laughter,” Djudjic writes. “Just look at the Photoshop job they did on my face and hair!

“I’m pretty sure that Samsung at least bought my photo legally, even though I haven’t received the confirmation of it. But regardless, this is false advertising.”

“Not only is this outright fraud, they did a terrible job in Photoshop doctoring the image,” writes Daring Fireball.

“If the A8 Star doesn’t take good enough pictures to advertise, maybe Samsung just shouldn’t bother,” The Verge says.

After word of Samsung’s fakery spread over the past couple of days, a disclosure has quietly appeared on the page under the photos:

“Image simulated for demo purpose,” the page now says in tiny letters.