Studio Display update 15.5 with webcam fix now available for beta testers

Posted:
in macOS edited April 27
Apple confirms that the third developer beta of macOS Monterey 12.4 also contains an update for the Studio Display that it says fixes the monitor's poor webcam quality -- but so far, the results are lacking.

Studio Display Firmware Update 15.5 available to macOS 12.4 beta testers
Studio Display Firmware Update 15.5 available to macOS 12.4 beta testers


Apple calls the update Studio Display Firmware Update 15.5, but previous sleuthing revealed the Studio Display runs a version of iOS. The new update aims to provide a fix for the webcam quality issues reported by users.

The Verge confirmed with Apple that the new update would provide improvements to webcam quality. It is only available to those connecting the Studio Display to a Mac running the latest macOS Monterey beta -- 12.4 beta 3. The update option then shows up in System Preferences with a hefty 487MB file size.

"An update to the Studio Display firmware is now available with today's beta release of macOS Monterey 12.4," Apple spokesperson Jennie Orphanopoulos told The Verge. "This beta update has refinements to the Studio Display camera tuning, including improved noise reduction, contrast, and framing."





In AppleInsider testing, there is indeed better noise reduction. Additionally, Center Stage works a bit better.

However, the webcam performance is still less than that of the 24-inch iMac or 27-inch Intel iMac. It is also significantly worse than the selfie camera on the iPhone 13 lineup.

The Studio Display has already had a confusing saga with software updates despite being a new product. Some early shipping models of the Studio Display didn't ship with the latest 15.4 version of the software, which meant people needed to update the display right out of the box.

Apple stopped signing iOS 15.4 shortly after releasing iOS 15.4.1, which led to trouble with people still trying to update their new Studio Display. So, Apple had to resign a special version of the software to ensure the Studio Display could still be updated while iOS 15.4 was no longer available for iPhones.

The new Studio Display Firmware Update 15.5 will remain exclusive to beta testers until macOS Monterey 12.4 is released to the public. Those who participate in the public beta program can expect an update later on Tuesday.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,299member
    It would be nice if my monitor came in so that I could complain along with everyone else. But from a shippin g date from April 7-14th, it went to the current 22nd to 29th. While it says preparing g your order, it didn’t indicate that with the green bar which is still in processing. Since it’s now the 26th, I somehow doubt it will get here by the 29th, unless it’s shipping without the Apple store app being aware of it. One can only hope. Meanwhile my Studio computer sits mournfully awaiting for its eyes and ears to appear.
    lkruppAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,692member
    melgross said:
    It would be nice if my monitor came in so that I could complain along with everyone else. But from a shippin g date from April 7-14th, it went to the current 22nd to 29th. While it says preparing g your order, it didn’t indicate that with the green bar which is still in processing. Since it’s now the 26th, I somehow doubt it will get here by the 29th, unless it’s shipping without the Apple store app being aware of it. One can only hope. Meanwhile my Studio computer sits mournfully awaiting for its eyes and ears to appear.
    Lockdown related delays? That's my guess.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    keithwkeithw Posts: 91member
    So if one were to update a non-production M1 Mac Mini to the 12.4 Beta, then update the monitor, would it still work properly with the production 12.3.1 iMac?

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,208member
  • Reply 5 of 22
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,634member
    Seems a bit weird that it apparently uses a similar camera to the iPhones but the quality is so poor. Seems like they cheaped out on it and are trying to fix it in software, probably by applying the same algorithms that the iPhones use. Has anyone done a teardown to find if its the same sensor to the iPhone 13?
  • Reply 6 of 22
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,590member
    elijahg said:
    Seems a bit weird that it apparently uses a similar camera to the iPhones but the quality is so poor. Seems like they cheaped out on it and are trying to fix it in software, probably by applying the same algorithms that the iPhones use. Has anyone done a teardown to find if its the same sensor to the iPhone 13?
    9to5mac has a great article on why the Studio Display's poor webcam quality is a hardware, not software, problem.  And by hardware problem, they don't mean the webcam is defective

    https://9to5mac.com/2022/04/26/apples-studio-displays-poor-webcam-quality-is-not-a-software-bug-after-all/
    elijahg
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Rogue01Rogue01 Posts: 55member
    elijahg said:
    Seems a bit weird that it apparently uses a similar camera to the iPhones but the quality is so poor. Seems like they cheaped out on it and are trying to fix it in software, probably by applying the same algorithms that the iPhones use. Has anyone done a teardown to find if its the same sensor to the iPhone 13?
    Teardowns confirm the camera module is identical to the iPhone 11 (ultra-wide) camera.  The display uses an old A13 processor, so why would it use a current camera?  Apple is basically using old iPhone parts to make a $1,599 display.  It is essentially an iPhone 11 inside.
    edited April 26 williamlondonwatto_cobraelijahg
  • Reply 8 of 22
    Rogue01Rogue01 Posts: 55member
    elijahg said:
    Seems a bit weird that it apparently uses a similar camera to the iPhones but the quality is so poor. Seems like they cheaped out on it and are trying to fix it in software, probably by applying the same algorithms that the iPhones use. Has anyone done a teardown to find if its the same sensor to the iPhone 13?
    9to5mac has a great article on why the Studio Display's poor webcam quality is a hardware, not software, problem.  And by hardware problem, they don't mean the webcam is defective

    https://9to5mac.com/2022/04/26/apples-studio-displays-poor-webcam-quality-is-not-a-software-bug-after-all/
    That is a great article, and it is accurate.  The ultra-wide camera in the iPhone is lousy compared to the regular 12MP camera.  Ultra-wide shots are much lower quality.  The new iPhone 13 Pro uses the ultra-wide camera for the new Macro feature, and the photos have a lot more 'noise' in them because of the ultra-wide camera.  Turning off the Macro feature actually gives you better results with up close photos that are within the focus range of the regular 12MP camera, which is pretty close.  Apple used the iPhone 11 ultra wide camera in the studio display, so you can't fix bad hardware with software.  There really was no need for center stage on a big 27" monitor in which you are sitting in a fixed position when using the camera.  Maybe Apple will get it right with the 2nd version of the Display, in 2 to 3 years, with their current track record of upgrades.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondondewme
  • Reply 9 of 22
    opinionopinion Posts: 89member
    The iPhone 13 mini also has camera issues, people look orange/red in the skin tone and get both oversharpened and smeared out. What is going on?
  • Reply 10 of 22
    Rogue01 said: Teardowns confirm the camera module is identical to the iPhone 11 (ultra-wide) camera. 
    This "controversy" is like the butterfly keyboard in the MBP. The butterfly mechanism was first used in the MacBook without much in the way of complaints. It wasn't until it appeared in the more expensive product that it suddenly became a target. I don't remember any focus on the iPhone 11 ultra-wide as being poor quality. 

    https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/features/iphone-11-pro-ultra-wide-camera-review

    ^^The above article praises the quality of the iPhone 11 ultra-wide. In 2019. I have a hard time believing that people's expectations for monitor based web cams have gotten so high in three years that now it would be considered poor quality. 
    edited April 27 thtwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    jdonAIjdonAI Posts: 3member
    I'm glad I didn't order one.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 22
    jamnapjamnap Posts: 32member
    I absolutely love my new Apple Studio Display and could care less about the camera (seldon use it).  But I wish Preference/ Display would show more info such as firmware version and update options.  The tilt/rotate mechanism is very well engineered and worth it if you need it.  Time will tell if this mechanism ever weaken and lose its hold, but movenent/hold/balance is impressive like something you might find in a $35 million fighter jet.  You get what you pay for, but IMO the Display is worth every $$.
    thtwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,807moderator
    elijahg said:
    Seems a bit weird that it apparently uses a similar camera to the iPhones but the quality is so poor. Seems like they cheaped out on it and are trying to fix it in software, probably by applying the same algorithms that the iPhones use. Has anyone done a teardown to find if its the same sensor to the iPhone 13?
    9to5mac has a great article on why the Studio Display's poor webcam quality is a hardware, not software, problem.  And by hardware problem, they don't mean the webcam is defective
    Hardware mainly covers the sharpness and noise of the image. The colors can be entirely adjusted in software. The examples posted to twitter can be color corrected like the below image. Left image is the default Studio camera, right is the iMac Pro, middle is just a color corrected version of the left one:





    Look at the color of the clothing, the color tone is just off with the default setup. If Apple provided a CoreImage filter stack for the default camera view, it can be almost entirely corrected in software. Everybody's lighting setup is different.

    The filter stack would have a sharpen filter like an unsharp mask, color balance, curves and noise reduction. These would be processed in GPU hardware. People can share their filter stack online and paste it into somewhere like system prefs > camera > filters. The Studio display won't likely get moved around so once the filter looks good, it won't need updated. But someone may prefer to have a different filter depending on time of the day like higher exposure when using the camera when the lights are low.

    Color correction filters would benefit all Mac users. Laptops get moved around and the output can be a lot different depending on the interior lighting and position to the windows.


    edited April 27 dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    thttht Posts: 4,501member
    The webcam thing seems like a version 2.0 controversy for Apple's webcam quality. When the M1 Macs came out last year, there was a media controversy round of the M1 MBA/MBP13 only having a 720p front camera, and as such, it was crappy. For me, it culminated in a webcam comparison on CNBC between Joanna Stern and John Gruber. Gruber was on a M1 MBA 720p webcam and Stern on an external 1080p camera. Gruber ended up looking better because of better framing and lighting. So, lesson learned there is still the same as always with cameras: have good lighting and good framing as they are the biggest drivers in image quality. The camera in of itself can only do so much.

    So, if you want a good image of yourself in conference calls, get a light and a good microphone. All these media folks already know this. They know exactly what it takes, and they also know what situations web cams are used in for the vast bulk of users, and 720p and Center Stage cropping are not the limiting factors for 99% of users.

    Hence, it's basically a lot of media noise. The media needs to have a controversy, something that induces stress and engagement. For the Apple Studio display, the webcam is the only point of mediocre-ness, so they are going to play it up as much as possible. The price could have been a big point of criticism, but since the only real comparative product is the LG UF27 with a MSRP $1300, the $1600 price isn't that far off.

    For Apple Media, they feel part of their job is to criticize weak and mediocre features in Apple products so as to have Apple improve them. I don't think there is much evidence of it working though.
    dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 22
    CheeseFreezeCheeseFreeze Posts: 1,046member
    The monitor promises to deliver a full iMac-like experience and as part of that promise an important factor to me is the webcam.
    Based on the article shared regarding the wide angle camera, the product pricing and the reports so far, I will wait for a second generation.
    edited April 28 blastdoor
  • Reply 16 of 22
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,396member
    The monitor promises to deliver a full iMac-like experience and as part of that promise an important factor to me is the webcam.
    Based on the article shared regarding the wide angle camera, the product pricing and the reports so far, I will wait for a second generation.
    At some level, having the integrated camera IS fully consistent with delivering an iMac-like experience. Having integrated features entails a risk that the product as a whole can be seriously compromised because one of the bundled features, especially one that is a separate product like a webcam in a traditional modular computer, isn’t up to snuff. With iMacs it’s typically the obsolescence of the embedded computing components that renders a beautifully designed display that could be reused in a modular design totally useless.

    Considering you can get a really nice 4K webcam like the Logitech Brio for around $150, does it make sense to integrate a webcam into a $1600 display if doing so makes the display potentially less attractive to some buyers? I suppose if it works perfectly nobody’s going to complain, but the lack of “separation of concerns” does involve some level of risk for the product seller and for some buyers. I also wonder how people who are using multiple monitors would utilize the redundant cameras and speakers that the Studio Display provides.

    I personally wouldn’t have a problem with the Studio Display’s webcam because it’s “good enough” for what I’d use it for. I assume anyone doing serious video presentation work on a computer will use a dedicated setup with controlled lighting and high quality microphones. At least with the Studio Display I could blame the “you look like crap” factor on the Studio Display. Keep a link to this article around just in case you have to rationalize your claim of suboptimal appearance on your display’s camera. Yes, it’s the Studio Display’s fault.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    tht said: Hence, it's basically a lot of media noise. The media needs to have a controversy, something that induces stress and engagement. For the Apple Studio display, the webcam is the only point of mediocre-ness, so they are going to play it up as much as possible. The price could have been a big point of criticism, but since the only real comparative product is the LG UF27 with a MSRP $1300, the $1600 price isn't that far off.
    As someone said previously, the camera in question is the same ultra-wide from the iPhone 11 Pro. So why didn't the tech media think that camera was poor quality? That was never a thing. 

    Also, notice that the three images James Thomson used for the comparison are not actually framed the same way. You can see that the camera on the iMac Pro is turned so that you don't see light coming from the window on the right of the frame. It also looks like the camera is a bit further away and lower than the Studio Display. Obviously, there are going to be some lighting changes as a result of those differences. 
    edited April 28 watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,299member
    melgross said:
    It would be nice if my monitor came in so that I could complain along with everyone else. But from a shippin g date from April 7-14th, it went to the current 22nd to 29th. While it says preparing g your order, it didn’t indicate that with the green bar which is still in processing. Since it’s now the 26th, I somehow doubt it will get here by the 29th, unless it’s shipping without the Apple store app being aware of it. One can only hope. Meanwhile my Studio computer sits mournfully awaiting for its eyes and ears to appear.
    Lockdown related delays? That's my guess.
    Well, the Studio Ultra computer was due the 20th to the 25th, and it came in the 18th, when the display info for the monitor went from the usual “We have everything needed for your order…” to “We are preparing your order for shipment…”, I thought it would be shipped in a couple of days. But then it want back to the first notification in the App Store app. It’s now been sitting at the “We are preparing…” again for about a week.

    what I’ve never understood, is why Apple would say the they have everything needed for the order, and then take a while to ship it. Obviously they don’t have “everything”, so why say it? Anyway, it’s now the 28th. Anyone want to take a bet it doesn’t get here by tomorrow?
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,735member
    Unless you're running a live Webcam site where every pimple and shaved hair needs to be perfectly in focus and completely in perfect detail, most people will never care.  It is a webcam.  For zoom, facetime, etc. No one should be using this for portrait photography and no one is certainly schlepping the thing around for vacation photos. 

    In my experience, when people have the camera on in Zoom (usually only when required to), people are usually involved in the meeting and what is being said and not that the color reproduction is correct. When we facetime with my wife's family in Japan we are interested in the conversation, not the shadows on the wall. 

    Pros doing video podcasts aren't using built-in webcams or if they are have other studio quality equipment like lighting, mics etc. 

    Could the individual isolated tech be better in the camera on the new Studio monitor?   Sure.  In actual normal expected use will most people care?   Most probably won't.  They get to see the boss or grandma and the conversation is more important than the exact color dress or the shadow on the wall. 

    Just to put things in perspective.  
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    thttht Posts: 4,501member
    dewme said:
    The monitor promises to deliver a full iMac-like experience and as part of that promise an important factor to me is the webcam.
    Based on the article shared regarding the wide angle camera, the product pricing and the reports so far, I will wait for a second generation.
    At some level, having the integrated camera IS fully consistent with delivering an iMac-like experience. Having integrated features entails a risk that the product as a whole can be seriously compromised because one of the bundled features, especially one that is a separate product like a webcam in a traditional modular computer, isn’t up to snuff. With iMacs it’s typically the obsolescence of the embedded computing components that renders a beautifully designed display that could be reused in a modular design totally useless.

    Considering you can get a really nice 4K webcam like the Logitech Brio for around $150, does it make sense to integrate a webcam into a $1600 display if doing so makes the display potentially less attractive to some buyers? I suppose if it works perfectly nobody’s going to complain, but the lack of “separation of concerns” does involve some level of risk for the product seller and for some buyers. I also wonder how people who are using multiple monitors would utilize the redundant cameras and speakers that the Studio Display provides.

    I personally wouldn’t have a problem with the Studio Display’s webcam because it’s “good enough” for what I’d use it for. I assume anyone doing serious video presentation work on a computer will use a dedicated setup with controlled lighting and high quality microphones. At least with the Studio Display I could blame the “you look like crap” factor on the Studio Display. Keep a link to this article around just in case you have to rationalize your claim of suboptimal appearance on your display’s camera. Yes, it’s the Studio Display’s fault.
    Before getting a 4K external camera, get a ring light. Do the things that make the video better. The camera specs is but one, and it's not that important in most video conferencing scenarios, but lighting is hugely important in all camera related scenarios.

    Then, people already know if they need to have good conferencing video or meeting camera video. The Apple media types: podcasters, Twitterers, TV news, Youtubers know if they need to look good or want to look good. If it is basically a requirement for a job, they'll have a studio with properly setup lighting, sound, and backgrounds. If they are relying on a builtin web cam, they are doing it wrong, or don't care.

    The ASD is right in my wheelhouse, including the video camera. I have a good experience with my LG UF27 (even with the monitor having a hard time being "level"), so no real need to get it though, but it serves the same function in a better package. It's a 220 ppi monitor and TB3 dock with USB-PD. It's a one cable connection to my 220 ppi MBP15. It minimizes cabling as there aren't speaker cables, webcam cables, so on and so forth. Unplug and go, plug in and work, well, after entering security credentials a gazillion times. I'm looking at the laptop display and external monitor at the same time, and having the same ppi is important. I have a 4K 27" Dell, and I can tell that 163 ppi just isn't enough density to make the scaling invisible and eliminate the fuzz.

    The webcam is also nice to have in the UF27, but it's quality is basically irrelevant to me. 99% of the time, I'm looking at a briefing. When the video is shared, most of the time, whoever is sharing their video, MS Teams will crop it, scale it it to fit with other people's video, plus some will have an fake background on theirs. 4K video is meaningless in these scenarios. That's 99.9% of my webcam experience. I bet that is the experience of most people who use the ASD too, and it's the experience of 99% of web cam users regardless of hardware.

    Ostensibly, Apple made the decision that Center Stage is better than having a 4K normally wide angle camera. Some would say that is the wrong tradeoff. Wait and see on that. I don't think either is a big win either way.
    chadbagmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
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