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Here’s what the updated Apple Studio Display webcam looks like

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It’s better but still not going to blow you away

A closeup of the Apple Studio Display webcam
The ultrawide lens on the Studio Display might be the limiting factor in the end.
Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

Apple’s $1,599 Studio Display arrived last month with big promises about its webcam, which features a 12-megapixel sensor, an f2.4 ultra-wide lens, and the same A13 chip running the whole thing as found in the iPhone 11. Unfortunately, it shipped with buggy software that made everything look bad. Apple told us that it wasn’t “behaving as expected” and promised us a software update.

That update is now here, sort of. You have to update your Mac to the public beta of macOS Monterey 12.4, which comes with a further update to the Studio Display. (Once the Studio Display is updated, the improvements are available when connected to any other Mac, though.)

I updated my review unit last night, and, basically, the changes are what Apple said we’d see: the noise reduction is improved, contrast is better, and the framing is slightly wider. Here’s a side by side:

The old Studio Display webcam software on the left, updated software on the right

It’s not going to blow anyone’s mind, but it’s definitely not as immediately broken-looking as before. There’s a little more detail in my face, less noise in the background, and the colors are definitely more accurate. (I look like I have actually seen the sun in the past year.) It does seem like Apple’s decision to put a wide-angle lens on this camera for Center Stage support is working against image quality here — no matter what, it’s cropping down that sensor, giving the whole system less data to work with.

The update is still in beta, so we’ll see if Apple changes anything else when macOS 12.4 actually ships, which should be relatively soon. When that happens, we’ll take a closer look and update our review appropriately.