Monday, May 16, 2022

Studio Display Firmware 15.5

Juli Clover:

According to Apple’s release notes, the firmware refines camera tuning, offering improved noise reduction, contrast, and framing. We tested out the firmware update when it was in beta, and there is a clear difference in camera quality, mostly as it pertains to the way the framing works.

In addition to better framing, colors are not quite as pale, the contrast has been improved, and the overall look is more vibrant. Skin tones are also better than before, and there is less de-noising for more clarity, but ultimately Studio Display owners should not expect dramatic changes.

The first few comments talk about how the camera on the 24-inch iMac—a whole computer that’s thinner and costs less than the Studio Display—is better.

I don’t understand why the update requires macOS 12.4.


Update (2022-05-17): Matt J Fuller:

I ran the macOS update + #AppleStudioDisplay Firmware Update 15.5 today (took 45 min). My office has no windows so lighting did not change. I used PhotoBooth w/full-screen Screen Shots to compare. I see improvements. Before: image is more washed out. After: blacks are improved.

Gus Mueller:

Studio Display got into a loop of “updating please don’t unplug” and a warning symbol with the URL “”. It cycled between the two about 6-8 times before I just powered off the Mac and disconnected the display.

I rebooted the Mac with another display connected, waited a little bit, and reconnected the Studio Display. It tried the update again and it went through successfully this time.

Not being able to trust future display firmware updates, or my display in general, is a bummer.

Update (2022-06-16): See also: Dithering.

8 Comments RSS · Twitter

“The first few comments talk about how the camera on the 24-inch iMac”

I don’t still have my review unit. But when I did, the difference between the two was embarrassing for the Studio Display. I thought I was seeing things so set both up in the same spot. Nope. The SD was broadly equivalent to the 2020 MBA (which I also tested it against) in terms of output for quality from the camera. It’s baffling. No idea how that shipped, frankly.

>The first few comments talk about how the camera on the 24-inch iMac—a whole computer that’s thinner and costs less than the Studio Display—is better.

It kind of makes sense. Center Stage forces Apple to use a wide-angle lens, and then take a small crop. The iMac, OTOH, doesn't have Center Stage and can use a lens that focuses on your face in the first place.

I don't know if it would've been possible to put better optics in the display without making it significantly thicker, or whether it was always doomed to be compromised, but either way, it sounds like they didn't give it a premium experience.

>I don’t understand why the update requires macOS 12.4.

I guess the built-in firmware updater in 12.3 had some issues that 12.4 resolves? (However, it doesn't seem like 12.4's updater is that reliable either, so…)

@Sören It seems like the two main flaws of the display—the poor camera and the complications of iOS and firmware updates—are both due to the decision to add Center Stage, which a lot of people don’t even care about.

@ Michael: indeed. Lots of little ways it is overengineered. Why doesn't it have a power button? Because they thought it wouldn't need one. OK, but why doesn't it have a plug you can easily remove? Because adding one would've required a thicker display. OK, but why do you occasionally need to reboot it at all? Because they've added the full iOS to it.

Were there complaints about camera image quality on Center Stage-equipped iPads, or is something different with the Studio Display's?

@ vintner: I don't believe so, but an iPad with Center Stage starts at $329, not $1599, and more to the point, you tend to hold an iPad closer to you (hence also the higher PPI), meaning the camera needs to perform less of a crop, meaning less noise needs to be processed out. I imagine if you sit unnaturally closely to the Studio Display, the quality will be just about the same as on an iPad, since the hardware (and much of the software, even) is identical.

For a $1600 monitor, you’d think Apple could have sourced a more appropriate lens rather than pulling something out of the bargain iPad parts bin.

1500US$, it should be a 32" 6K above resolution, with camera of any quality, and please no iOS, just simple dedicated monitor firmware.

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