When Apple announced the Studio Display alongside the Mac Studio last month, creatives were thrilled at the prospect of an official Apple display that didn't cost upwards of $5,000. But enthusiasm quickly diminished when the thing started to ship, thanks to some pretty ugly webcam issues.
Critics and users alike decried the terrible quality of the webcam, on a device that Apple had trumpeted a week before as the "best combination of camera and audio ever in a desktop display." Apple swiftly promised to put things right with a software update – but now it's here, are things really that much better? Let's just say you might still want to give the rest of our best 4K monitors a look.
Available with today’s beta release of macOS Monterey 12.4, the firmware update for the Studio Display offers "refinements to the Studio Display camera tuning, including improved noise reduction, contrast, and framing."
Early adopters claimed that the webcam is actually, well, dire – with one reviewer even comparing it to that of an "old Blackberry". "It looks awful in good light, and downright miserable in low light," says The Verge (opens in new tab), while The Wall Street Journal's (opens in new tab) Joanna Stern claimed it made her look "like the star of a ‘90s home video." Ouch. In our own Apple Studio Display review, we called the webcam quality underwhelming.
But while they' offer an improvement, it seems Apple's tweaks still aren't doing lots to justify the Studio Display's $1,599 price tag. MacRumors says "there are noticeable quality updates, but the difference is subtle. Colours are not as pale, there's improved contrast, and the overall look is a bit more vibrant. Depending on lighting, there isn't a huge difference in sharpness, but the changes seem to be an overall net improvement."
Comparing the 15.5 (1st pic) and 15.4 (2nd pic) firmware for the Studio Display camera. There's a _lot_ less noise, and a touch more contrast, but it's still quite washed out compared to the iMac Pro camera (3rd pic, taken last month). pic.twitter.com/xvaYNgnB4qApril 26, 2022
Meanwhile, Twitter users aren't hugely impressed with the update. "I don’t understand why this is so bad. It’s worst than the $329 iPad," one user tweets, while another adds, "I don’t understand how Apple’s Studio Display webcam is so bad, even with a software “fix.” Apple markets this webcam as a “sensational camera,” but it’s sensationally [poo emoji]."
Indeed, with the software update still underwhelming users, many are beginning to wonder if it's a fundamental hardware issue rather than something that can easily be fixed via a software update. And if that's the case then, yeah, this is going to remain a difficult piece of kit to recommend. Still, at least the Mac Studio itself is blowing users away.