Why HDR Looks Too Dark on Your TV, and How to Fix It

Step aside, 4K: High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the most exciting leap in picture quality since the transition to HD and is available More tv than before. But if you bring your shiny new HDR TV home only to find that the show is too dark to watch, you might think something is wrong – after all, HDR is not all about brightnessThe Here’s what you can do to brighten the picture.

Why HDR Looks Dark on Some TVs

The movies and shows you’ve been watching over the years were mastered by what we now call the standard dynamic range or SDR and it’s actually quite dim, mastered only with peak brightness levels of 100 NIT. However, most modern LCD televisions are able to exclude 300 or more when playing that SDR material, so if you’re in a brightly lit room, you can just crank the backlight, which is the key to everything in the picture. Increases brightness. – From dark shadows to bright highlights.

HDR is different. Its main purpose is, as its name suggests, to create a high dynamic range – that is, a large gap between the dark parts and bright parts of a scene. In HDR, bright highlights can be up to 1,000 nits or more depending on your TV’s capabilities. In HDR, the sun shining through the forest will actually pop against the shady foreground, or a campfire will shine like a summer oasis against the dark desert night. On the right TV, it makes for an incredible image, but that doesn’t mean the entire image is brighter than its SDR counterpart – only those are highlighted. The average brightness of an HDR scene should, in theory, be the same as the same scene in SDR (although this may vary from film to film, depending on how it was classified).

However, there is a problem: many TVs default to the maximum backlight and contrast levels in HDR mode, so you can’t crank them any higher for that well-lit living room with SDR content. it is not true All TV, but it’s common, and it can leave you in a lot of pickle.

Worse, some TVs actually Deepen To image for their HDR failures. Robert Heeran, “Many Value Light Output 4K HDR TVs are often indistinguishable from many non-HDR TVs,” Professional tv calibrator And hosted AVExcel Home Theater Podcast. This is most common on cheaper TVs, but it can happen with fixed midrange or even high-end models that cut corners on brightness. Combine with HDR’s broader color palette, many of which lower-performance TVs cannot reproduce, and TVs will have to do something to make up for their shortcomings.

When a TV cannot reproduce those bright highlights at specified levels, it performs a process called tone-mapping to tailor the content to its abilities. Suppose you have a lower-lower TV capable of only 350 nits in HDR. When it plays a scene that has a 1,000-nut highlight, it has to adjust the scene so that the highlight is only 350 nits. There are two main ways that TV engineers adopt it:

  • Some TVs will “clip” bright highlights, maintaining the average brightness of the scene where it is. The picture will not be too dark, but the highlights can be blown slightly.

  • Other TVs would reduce the average brightness of the scene, preserving detail in highlights but it was originally mastered compared to making the overall image darker.