There was “breaking” news today about Apple’s Studio Display. The really bad, really grainy, webcam from the monitor that starts at $1,600 is supposed to be better after you install the latest macOS Monterey 12.4 beta and update the display’s firmware.
Apple told The Verge “an update to the Studio Display firmware is now available with today’s beta release of macOS Monterey 12.4. This beta update has refinements to the Studio Display camera tuning, including improved noise reduction, contrast, and framing.”
Jason Snell over at Six Colors has shared comparisons of the webcam pre-update and post-update. How much better is the webcam’s image quality? Hardly better.
Mind you, the fix is still in beta, so Apple could still improve things. But if this is the “fix” it’s really not much of one. At least not in terms of dramatically improving image quality.
Spot the difference? — As you can see in his video comparison video above, there’s barely a difference. Snell says the new firmware makes the Studio Display’s webcam produce a less aggressive image and the “contrast could still be better.”
In terms of image quality, beyond having access to extra pixels due to framing, it looks like the camera is being a bit less aggressive when it comes to softening the image and in trying to decrease contrast. In some of the lighting conditions I tested, the dynamic range of the image seemed to be a little wider—highlights weren’t as crushed down, though blacks were still a little more of a gray.
Snell concludes that the firmware doesn’t magically make the Studio Display’s camera as good or better than an iPad’s.
Other observations include the camera framing a wider shot instead of a closer one and Center Stage being more responsive and less jerky than before.
James Thomson also has a particularly shocking (or not shocking) comparison comparing before and after the Studio Display update along with a shot from an iMac Pro webcam, a computer from 2017 with a two-megapixel camera sans A13 Bionic chip. The latter, which only highlights how bad the Studio Display’s webcam is.
Shame Apple shipped such a bad webcam on such a good-looking monitor. Maybe I was right and Apple should have left the webcam out of the Studio Display and lowered the price. Get yourself a webcam like the Opal C1 if you really want a good-looking video.
At least the speakers in the Studio Display are phenomenal — seriously, I’ve heard them for myself and they are so loud and powerful and clear. It’s like a completely different team botched the monitor’s webcam.