Testing Apple’s software fix for the Studio Display camera

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Apple claims that it has made significant improvements to the webcam included on the Studio Display thanks to a forthcoming update. We put the beta update to the test to see whether it notably improves Apple’s much-criticized webcam.

Recently, Apple released a new wave of beta updates to developers. That includes the third beta of macOS Monterey 12.4. With that third beta, Apple also introduced the first beta of software version 15.5 for the Studio Display.

When users installed the macOS beta, they’d also get the 15.5 update for the Studio Display. We don’t know when Apple will publically release these updates, but we’d guess within the next month or two based on typical beta cycles.

The changes are subtle

Side-by-side, there do appear to be improvements in the image quality.

We placed our Studio Display in our production studio so that we could keep the lighting and environment consistent. We filmed a few videos in the FaceTime app, QuickTime, and in Zoom using the Studio Display’s camera.

Then we installed the macOS 12.4 update and the Studio Display 15.5 update. We verified the new version number of the display’s firmware in the System Report pane. Finally, we repeated the video test to compare.

After the update (left) compared to before the update (right)

After the update (left) compared to before the update (right)

In our testing, we saw Apple had greatly improved the skin tone. A face that was red before the update had a more natural color afterward. The details also looked less noisy — Apple must have reduced the noise with additional smoothing.

Center Stage is now a bit less aggressive post-update. It doesn’t crop in as tightly on a face, leaving a bit more room above a head. Hard to say whether this is good or bad and is something we’d prefer to have control over.

An optional setting to determine how zoomed-in the camera gets would be much preferable to ceding all control to Apple.

FaceTime app after the update

FaceTime app after the update

That all…

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