Yes, the 2018 MacBook Air's FaceTime HD Camera is Awful

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Since the launch of the 2018 MacBook Air, we here at MacRumors have heard multiple complaints from MacRumors readers about the quality of the FaceTime HD camera housed in the device.

    There have been multiple threads on the MacRumors forums and the Apple Support Communities complaining about the graininess of the camera so we decided to investigate to see if it's worse than recent MacBook Pro models or the older MacBook Air.

    Many of the complaints that we saw suggested the camera was poor quality without offering direct comparisons, or with comparisons to FaceTime cameras like those in the iPhone, which are wildly better than the 720p "FaceTime HD" camera Apple uses in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines.

    In a direct comparison, photos taken from Photo Booth on a 2018 MacBook Air and a modern 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro are almost identical, and both are pretty terrible. The MacBook Air photos are a bit darker, which can be interpreted as "worse," but all in all, both cameras are bad.


    When comparing the new MacBook Air and the older 2015 MacBook Air, however, we found a more noticeable difference in quality. The FaceTime HD camera in the 2015 MacBook Air is a bit clearer and brighter, with the 2018 MacBook Air's camera letting in less light and producing an overall grainier, less clear result.


    Even though we can clearly see a difference between the 2015 and the 2018 MacBook Air FaceTime HD cameras, it's not a huge gap. Both cameras are subpar, and that the FaceTime HD camera on the MacBook Air appears to have gotten worse over time rather than better is certainly disappointing.


    On a modern machine with a Retina display, a 720p FaceTime HD camera just doesn't hold up, especially in comparison to devices like the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and iPad Pro, which have much higher resolution cameras. FaceTime is limited to 720p on all devices, but the FaceTime HD camera does serve other purposes as well.

    2018 MacBook Air owners are disappointed, and honestly, MacBook Pro owners should be too. 720p looks awful and it is outdated technology. Apple implemented a better 1080p FaceTime HD camera in the iMac Pro, and the quality is much better.


    Hopefully future Mac notebook updates will feature higher-quality webcams as video quality has become an increasingly important feature that consumers look for when making a purchase.

    Many of the complaint threads that suggested the MacBook Air camera is worse than other machines did not include comparison images, so we're still working with just a few data points here. If you have a MacBook Air and another machine, please feel free to post comparison images in the thread below so we can further investigate this issue.

    Article Link: Yes, the 2018 MacBook Air's FaceTime HD Camera is Awful
  2. garylapointe macrumors 65816


    Feb 19, 2006
    Dearborn (Detroit), MI, USA
  3. dumastudetto macrumors 68040

    Aug 28, 2013
    Still better than almost all built-in webcams on the market.
    If you want the best of course, you buy the pro models.
  4. DrJohnnyN macrumors 65816


    Jan 27, 2010
    Yes, it is awful. I complained to Apple and returned my 2018 Air within 48 hours. FaceTime is one of my main apps I use regularly on Mac -- gets about 6 hours of usage daily, to patients and family members.
  5. Ds6778 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 9, 2016
    A trillion dollar company lol well at least they used to be. Can't wait to see the Apple apologist put a positive spin on this one...
  6. macduke macrumors G3


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    What else would you expect from a twelve-hundred dollar computer?

    Oh wait…and that's just the starting price, lol.

    Though it must be said: No MacBook anything has a good FaceTime camera.
  7. JuanGuapo macrumors 6502a


    May 21, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    I am guessing there was nothing better to report on today...
  8. Rob_2811 macrumors 68000

    Mar 18, 2016
    United Kingdom
    The cameras are nothing special on the pro models either. If you want the best use an external camera.
  9. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA
    That happens when you spend all the money on making notebooks thinner instead of putting in better components and then decide how thin it can be.
  10. Mr Dobey macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2008
    The main light source is a florescent light behind the subject and the secondary light source is your screen. Did you think this was going to produce a quality shot?
  11. aaronptrck macrumors member


    Jun 29, 2007
    I just wanted to thank MacRumors for posting a story like this to bring us all back to earth after Apple announced their phenomenal New Year's Day app sales.
  12. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Even my 2017 iMac's camera is awful. I'd put it on par with the iPhone 4's front-facing camera.

    I don't need the Mac's camera to be as great as the iPhone's, but could they at least look like they came from the same era of electronics?
  13. snowboarder macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2007
  14. AngerDanger, Jan 3, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019

    AngerDanger macrumors 601


    Dec 9, 2008
    For those of you stuck on a 2015 machine and yearning for that sweet sweet 2018 experience, I've got a DIY solution for you.

    Step 1: Make sure your fingers are nice and greasy.

    Step 2:

  15. laszlo182 macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2013
    Bratislava, Slovakia
    I don’t see significant difference. Most people should cover it with tape anyway. :D
  16. 33man macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2011
    Well, you are using it wrong !

    Buy iphone holder extention and mount it to your mac.

    Now you have better camera...


    (Please note: Iphone sold separately) :p
  17. talltree macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2006
  18. midkay macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2008
    I really can barely see a difference. They could all be quite a bit better of course, and I'm sure will over the next few years, but all the cams look very similar to me, which is to say, barely-adequate resolution and pretty awful dynamic range/color. Why don't they just take the front-facing iPad camera for this? Is it really too thick?
  19. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    You have to realize that Apple probably saved 2 or 3 dollars by cutting corners on those FaceTime cameras on their Macs. This was very important to Apple.
  20. TwoBytes macrumors 68030


    Jun 2, 2008
    of course, how is Apple going to charge the premium $599 more for the 2019 MacBook air? ...BETTER CAMERA of course!
  21. Naraxus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 13, 2016
  22. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    In 2019 the words "horrible" and "awful" now mean not quite as good as the best.
  23. Kanyay Suspended


    Dec 14, 2018
    Mar-a-Lago, Russia
    Damn, his selfie game might be better than mine idk the jury is still out
  24. paul4339 macrumors 65816

    Sep 14, 2009
    IMO, taking a look at those photos, there's a difference, but I wouldn't much difference for consumer use - it's like having face time chat on an iPhone. If quality is really important (for professional use, or where color, contrast, etc really matters), I would use an external camera.
  25. Darryl.Jenks macrumors regular


    Sep 29, 2014
    To be fair, the guy in the photo was three years younger in 2015. Of course he looked better then!

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