Here’s how to update the Apple Studio Display and improve your webcam quality

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 6:06 PM

Apple has released the beta of its promised update to improve the webcam on its Studio Display for camera tuning, contrast, noise reduction, and more. Follow along for how to download the Studio Display webcam fix update early.

At launch, Apple received a lot of criticism from reviewers over the Studio Display’s 12 MP ultrawide webcam. The company responded by saying the poor quality early users reported wasn’t expected behavior and a future software update would solve the problems.

Now alongside the macOS 12.4 beta 3, Apple has seeded the first Apple Studio Display Firmware Update 15.5 beta with webcam fixes. After we noticed code changes in the latest update showing webcam improvements, Apple confirmed to The Verge that it should address “camera tuning, improved noise reduction, contrast, and framing.”

How to download the Studio Display webcam fix update

It appears you’ll need to have already been on the macOS Monterey beta or install the macOS 12.4 beta 3 before the new Apple Studio Display update will appear. macOS 12.4 beta 3 is available now for developers and public testers.

If you’re already running the macOS Monterey beta

  1. On your Mac head to System Preferences > Software Update
  2. The Apple Studio Display Firmware Update 15.5 should appear alongside the macOS 12.4 beta 3
  3. Choose Install Now

If you’re not running the macOS beta yet

  1. You’ll need to install either the developer or public macOS 12.4 beta 3
  2. After installing the macOS 12.4 beta 3, head to System Preferences > Software Update
  3. The Apple Studio Display Firmware Update 15.5 should appear
  4. Choose Install Now

It’s all about the ultra-wide lens

Apple proudly says that the Studio Display has a 12-megapixel camera, which should be enough for sharp images. After all, the iPhone and other Apple devices also have 12-megapixel front-facing cameras. But why is the Studio Display webcam so different in terms of image quality?

While most Apple devices have a regular wide front camera, Studio Display has an ultra-wide lens. This is because it has Center Stage, a feature that uses machine learning to always center the image on a person during a video call or video recording. Since this camera has no optical zoom, Center Stage digitally crops the image to center the people in the frame.

So while an iPhone is capable of taking a real 12-megapixel selfie, Center Stage cameras capture images at 12 megapixels using the ultra-wide lens and then digitally crop them to look like a regular photo or video. This process results in less-sharp images.

Is there a solution?

Unfortunately, no matter what Apple does in terms of software updates, there’s nothing that will dramatically improve the Studio Display webcam.

The only two possible solutions to solve this problem are to use a higher resolution sensor, so that the cropped image is at least 12 megapixels, or a larger sensor to capture more light – which would help reduce noise in the image.

However, as you may have guessed, both solutions require a hardware upgrade, which means that owners of the first generation Studio Display will have to deal with the webcam the way it is.