Camera Manufacturers Fight Against Fake AI Images

Camera Manufacturers Fight Against Fake AI Images

Camera industry players Canon, Sony, and Nikon have teamed up to create a global standard for digital signatures to distinguish real from fake AI photos.

The initiative is to augment the authenticity of photographic material and protect the photography sector from the possible peril presented by the extensive use of synthetic imagery.

Fighting deception

While the use of AI in photography has helped improve picture quality, as photographers can now automatically adjust exposure, contrast, and color balance “to create more appealing images,” the same has its pitfalls.

The increasing ease with which AI can produce “deceptive” images is also posing not only a challenge to photographers but also a potential threat to camera makers. A post by Nikkei Asia indicates the three camera-making companies are working on a global standard for digital signatures, which will make it easier to identify who, how, and when a photograph was taken.

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Verify app to verify authenticity

According to DigitalCameraWorld, these signatures, which will include the name of the photographer as well as the date, time, and place the photo was taken, can then be verified through a free web application called Verify. Verify was introduced by a multinational coalition of tech companies, media outlets, and camera manufacturers.

With Nikon already developing mirrorless cameras with authentication technology, it is yet to be seen if consumers will be willing to invest in a delicate and expensive piece of equipment when there is a way to generate images using one’s computer or mobile phone.

Using digital signatures

According to the same report by Nikkei Asia, the digital signatures introduced by the three camera manufacturers will be tamper-proof, setting them apart from the easily manipulated Exif data currently in use.

These signatures will be compatible with a web-based tool called Verify, the brainchild of news organizations and tech firms. This tool will allow users to verify whether an image carries a legitimate digital signature.

If there is no signature, the tool will issue a warning, alerting users that the image lacks “content credentials.”

Sony has shed some light on the deployment of this technology by announcing firmware updates for its professional-range cameras in the spring, although specifics are still sketchy.

Without giving a specific date, Canon has also promised to provide picture authentication on its professional camera bodies this year. Nikon has announced that it will be integrating this capability into all its mirrorless cameras.

Is this enough?

While automation in photography is helping photographers save time and focus on creatives as opposed to manual edits, there are still concerns raised, and some stakeholders feel that more needs to be done to protect the industry.

Tools like Midjourney, Prisma, Adobe Photoshop, Luminar Leo, and Canva can enhance images by providing a range of creative options and effects. They apply artistic filters, remove unwanted objects, adjust colour grading, and “even generate realistic textures.”

An article by Professional Photo, however, shows that while AI enhances creativity, there are also ethical concerns over the use of the technology in the industry. As such, regulation may be an answer to protect artists such as photographers as well as camera manufacturers.

Although stakeholders feel it is not enough, regulators have also called on social media platforms to watermark AI-generated content to allow users to make informed decisions.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.