Studio Display’s poor webcam quality is not a software bug

When Apple announced Studio Display, it promised “sensational” webcam quality. However, as customers got their hands on the product, they noticed that the images captured by the built-in camera were not good. Apple is now rolling out a beta software that promises to fix some of these issues – but the thing is, Studio Display’s poor webcam quality is not a software bug after all.

The complaints

According to pretty much every Studio Display owner, the webcam images are pretty bad compared to the front camera on other Apple devices. In most cases, the images look blurry, are washed out, and have a lot of noise.

In his review for The Verge, Nilay Patel wrote that the Studio Display’s camera looks “awful in good light, and downright miserable in low light.” Joanna Stern at The Wall Street Journal likened the camera performance to that of an “old BlackBerry.” Gizmodo had similar complaints, saying that the Studio Display’s webcam is “noisy” and “not great.”

Soon after the first Studio Display reviews criticizing its 12-megapixel webcam were published on the web, Apple told the press that it was working on a software update to improve the quality of the image captured by the built-in camera.

What changes with the update

Nearly two months after Studio Display was announced, Apple today released a beta firmware to developers that brings enhancements to the image processing of the company’s built-in display webcam.

Right now, the update is only available to those running the latest beta of macOS Monterey, and it’s unclear when the update will be released to the public. However, some Studio Display users have already installed the firmware update to see what it actually changes. And it turns out, the update doesn’t change much.

As noted by Jason Snell, Apple has made some adjustments to make the Center Stage cropping less aggressive. At the same time, James Thomson also noted that there’s much less noise in the webcam images after the update, as well as a bit more contrast, but the quality is still “quite washed out” compared to other webcams.