HDR – In General.
Recently everyone seems to be interested in HDR displays. But do you know what HDR is really? Well, I’m going to try and explain that as best as I can today. HDR stand for High Dynamic Range. But What is Dynamic Range? Well to make it simple Dynamic Range is the measurement of the brightest part of the image and the darkest part. You can measure Dynamic Range by using F-Stops. So let’s say your smartphone camera has 2 F-stops that means it can capture (accurately) (2^2) bright spots that are 4 times as bright as the darkest place in an image. For comparison, the eye has a static dynamic range of 6.5 F Stops, this means your eye can perceive bright spots that are 64 times brighter than the darkest spot in your vision while you’re staying still. But in movement, the eye has a DR of 20 F Stops. For comparison, one of the best cinema cameras the RED MONSTRO 8K has an aperture of 17 F Stops. In case you were wondering here’s an image demonstrating bad DR.
As you can see the white is so white it loses all detail and so is the black’s you just can’t see any detail in them because they are pure black or white.
Here is the original image with good DR and you can see how big of a difference good DR can make.
Today most smartphones use a technique where they capture the image with different brightness levels and exposure and then just use software to fuse them together borrowing each detail from each image (from the best parts) and it creates an image with good Dynamic Range so you can see the details in the darkest parts of an image and also the brightest parts of an image.
So that explains HDR, but we have another topic to discuss – HDR displays.
So what are HDR displays? HDR displays have better color accuracy and also contrast. But why?
Color Depth: 8 BIT & 10 BIT
So HDR displays have two standards HDR-10 and Dolby Vision and both of them require a 10 BIT color panel. So in a nutshell 8-bit color gives us 255 different brightness options for each RGB color that means you have in total 16.7 million different shades of color, while 10-bit panels give us 1024 different brightness option that in total equals 1.07 billion total shades. That gives us an extra of 1.06 billion colors. This is a huge boost. It helps create smoother gradients and reduces banding.
Another specification that is set by the two standards is brightness or contrast. For a panel to be HDR compliant it must have a brightness of at least 1000 Nits. So the contrast between the brightest and darkest part of an image can be high.
So in a nutshell, HDR displays will be brighter and more colorful when playing HDR content!
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