Poor Studio Display webcam quality is a software bug that’ll get fixed soon

Early reviews have singled out unexpected quality problems with the Studio Display webcam, but Apple says a software fix is coming soon.

Four images stitched together illustrating image quality during video calls on Apple's Studio Display, 14-inch MacBook Pro, LG's UltraFine 5K monitor and the iPhone 11 Pro
Image credit: Joanna Stern / The Wall Street Journal
  • Apple’s new Studio Display will start shipping in less than 24 hours. Early reviews are in agreement that the Studio Display is a more or less fine monitor despite not having such features as ProMotion and HDR (especially given the $1,599 price).
  • Most reviewers have panned the poor webcam quality of the Studio Display, which is strange considering that features like the built-in camera for video calls or a powerful speaker system are supposed to win over would-be shoppers.
  • Apple has issued a statement clarifying that the webcam quality issue is a software problem that’ll get fixed with a future firmware update rather than an engineering error that might even require a product recall.

A fix is coming for poor Studio Display webcam issues

The “ultimate video conferencing display,” as Apple is calling its $1,599 5K Retina monitor, is not so impressive when you consider quality issues with the built-in webcam. Early reviews from The Wall Street Journal, The Verge and other publications have criticized the camera for its surprisingly poor image quality.

After sending sample images in various lighting conditions to Apple, The Verge was told by a company spokesperson that the team had “looked into the images you shared and discovered an issue where the system is not behaving as expected,” adding that Apple will be making unspecified improvements “in a software update.”

Apple gave the same statement to The Wall Street Journal, Gizmodo and others.

What are reviewers saying?

Marketing image showcasing the key features of Apple's Studio Display monitor

Despite having the 12-megapixel sensor and being paired to Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, the integrated web camera “consistently produced grainy and washed-out images,” Joanna Stern noted in her review for The Wall Street Journal.

For confirmation, I again brought in extra eyes. I recorded footage from webcams on the Studio Display (12 megapixel), an iPhone 11 Pro (12 megapixel), a 14-inch MacBook Pro (2 megapixel) and the 5K LG monitor (2 megapixel). I shared frames with a group of colleagues, without saying which came from which. The group was unanimous, ranking the Apple Studio Display’s webcam dead last. Naturally, the iPhone came in first.

The Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel has found the built-in camera to produce images that look “awful in good light and downright miserable in low light.”

I’ve tried it connected to the Mac Studio and on my MacBook Pro running macOS 12.3, and on both machines, it produces a grainy, noisy image with virtually no detail. I tried it in FaceTime, in Zoom, in Photo Booth, in QuickTime — you name it, it’s the same sad image quality. Turning off the Center Stage feature that follows you around the room doesn’t help. Turning portrait mode on and off doesn’t help.

Keys features of the Studio Display

One of the key features of the Studio Display is its camera in the top bezel rocking a twelve-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, which allows it to support Apple’s Center Stage feature. With Center Stage, available in FaceTime and other compatible video apps, machine learning analyses footage to apply crops and zooms in real-time to keep everyone in the frame. Read: Apple Studio FAQ: Everything you need to know