Now that smartphones are capable of taking photos that can, in some instances, rival those of DSLRs, companies seem to be getting more and more comfortable swapping actual DSLR photos into their advertising. The problem is, most phone cameras are still far from DSLR quality, so it’s rarely a fair representation. And Samsung is the latest to get busted trying to pass one off.
Over at DIYPhotography (which we spotted via Daring Fireball), writer and photographer Dunja Djudjic says that she caught Samsung Malaysia using one of her photos to advertise the portrait mode capabilities of the Galaxy A8 Star, a midrange phone that came out over the summer. Djudjic suspects that Samsung licensed the picture from her through the photo site EyeEm, so payment isn’t necessarily a problem. But Djudjic does say that the photo wasn’t taken with an A8 Star. Instead, it was taken with an (unnamed) DSLR she owns.
Samsung doesn’t state outright that the photo was taken on the A8 Star, but it’s certainly implied by the page it’s on, which is meant to illustrate the phone’s capabilities. The page doesn’t note that the images are simulated, and after showing Djudjic’s photo, it proceeds to show the A8’s dual rear cameras, implying a connection.
Djudjic’s photo was also edited for use on the A8 Star page. The photo’s subject (Djudjic) was cut out from the foreground, touched up, and pasted over another background. Her face was then color-corrected to match. While this obviously isn’t the biggest issue at hand, Djudjic’s calls it out as shoddy editing work, referring to it as a “franken-image.”
This is far from the first time a smartphone maker has gotten busted for swapping a DSLR-taken picture when advertising their phone’s photo capabilities. As Djudjic notes in her story, Samsung Brazil got caught doing this same thing as recently as August, and Huawei did the same thing for a commercial that same month.
Using stock imagery might be common practice in advertising, but when it comes to advertising a camera’s capabilities, it comes off as deceptive, giving potential buyers the wrong idea about what a product is capable of. Samsung’s phones — its higher-end ones, at least — take some very good photos. It’s not that hard to take a few images to illustrate what a device can deliver. If the A8 Star doesn’t take good enough pictures to advertise, maybe Samsung just shouldn’t bother.
Update December 5th, 10:55AM ET: Since attention was drawn to the page, Samsung has updated it with a small note saying the image is “simulated for demo purpose.”