In a recent interview, a Samsung executive attempted to gaslight us all by saying that no photo is really “real.”
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The Samsung executive’s statement was in response to last year’s controversy when Samsung smartphones were accused of not actually taking photos of the Moon but instead overlaying a filter to make it look like they were. Samsung denied the accusation.
“Everyone was like, ‘Is it fake? Is it not fake?’ There was a debate around what constitutes a real picture,” Samsung’s Head of Customer Experience Patrick Chomet told TechRadar.
“And actually, there is no such thing as a real picture. As soon as you have sensors to capture something, you reproduce [what you’re seeing], and it doesn’t mean anything. There is no real picture. You can try to define a real picture by saying, ‘I took that picture’, but if you used AI to optimize the zoom, the autofocus, the scene — is it real? Or is it all filters? There is no real picture, full stop.”
See, what Mr. Chomet is trying to do here is equate modern-day smartphone photography, which heavily relies on computational photography technology, to the photography that’s been around since the mid-19th century.
It is a bizarre claim that is demonstrably false. To suggest that there is no such thing as a real photograph is offensive to everyone here at PetaPixel, to Louis Dageurre, to Ansel Adams, all the way to Annie Leibowitz.
A set of computational tasks that dramatically improve a photograph in milliseconds which relies heavily on generative AI — literally synthesizing elements that were never there — is worlds apart from photons hitting a camera sensor with light or doing the same to film.
PetaPixel’s erudite readers were quick to put Mr. Chomet in his place, “Everything he says pertains only to images and not to photos” writes one commenter who helpfully posted the dictionary definition of a photo which Mr. Chomet may want to read.
While it is true that you can fake a photo taken on a 35mm film camera; just like you can manipulate digital photos, Mr. Chomet’s suggestion that there is no such thing as “a real picture, full stop” is totally ridiculous.
In fact, I can prove it. I can go outside right now with a real camera — one that doesn’t have any generative AI programs loaded into a computer — and take a photo of the outside world. Voila, I have just taken a “real picture.”
Chris Niccolls, Jordan Drake, and Jaron Schneider are joined by Allison Johnson from The Verge (and formerly of DPReview) to discuss the situation along with a larger discussion on computational photography both in and beyond smartphones in this week’s PetaPixel Podcast.
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In this episode:
- 00:00 – Intro
- 07:19 – Italian court orders Getty to remove photos of Michelangelo’s David
- 11:21 – Canon permanently discounts both the R3 and the R5
- 15:15 – Samsung reports weakest earnings in a decade
- 21:27 – Samsung argues that there is “no such thing as a real picture”
- 29:48 – What are the limits of computational photography?
- 35:25 – Why are full-size camera makers so reluctant to add computational photography?
- 41:40 – What about Sony Xperia?
- 43:53 – Are camera companies afraid of what computational photography might mean to authenticity?
- 47:10 – Companies have to stop thinking they can dictate the terms of a review
- 51:52 – What have you been up to?
- 57:20 – Tech support
- 1:09:11 – PetaPixel’s glossary of photo terms
- 1:10:35 – Never read the comments