In recent years, large databases of natural images have become increasingly popular in the evaluation of face and object recognition algorithms. However, Pinto et al. previously illustrated an inherent danger in using such sets, showing that an extremely basic recognition system, built on a trivial feature set, was able to take advantage of low-level regularities in popular object  and face  recognition sets, performing on par with many state-of-the-art systems. Recently, several groups have raised the performance “bar” for these sets, using more advanced classification tools. However, it is difficult to know whether these improvements are due to progress towards solving the core computational problem, or are due to further improvements in the exploitation of low-level regularities. Here, we show that even modest optimization of the simple model introduced by Pinto et al. using modern multiple kernel learn- ing (MKL) techniques once again yields “state-of-the-art” performance levels on a standard face recognition set (“Labeled Faces in the Wild” ). However, at the same time, even with the inclusion of MKL techniques, systems based on these simple features still fail on a synthetic face recognition test that includes more “realistic” view variation by design. These results underscore the importance of building test sets focussed on capturing the central computational challenges of real-world face recognition.