HDR means everything when it comes to a 4K UHD TV picture image. HDR and 4K work hand in hand to deliver you the most real, true-to-life picture image that you will ever see. 4K came first about 4 years ago and HDR was introduced just last year. HDR has to do with the color that your display creates. HDR allows the Television to display an image that perfectly matches what the camera originally captured. HDR allows for every color you can think of and in between.
High dynamic range (HDR) video is one of the newest TV feature bullet points. It can push video content past the (now non-existent) limitations to which broadcast and other media standards have adhered to for decades. But adoption could be slow over the next few years because it’s a complicated and somewhat esoteric feature. Let us explain.
Standard Dynamic Range
TV contrast is the difference between how dark and bright it can get. Dynamic range describes the extremes in that difference, and how much detail can be shown in between. Essentially, dynamic range is display contrast, and HDR represents broadening that contrast. Basically spreading the colors so that they exactly match whatever was captured by the camera or video recorder. HDR is now found on most Smart Phones.
However, just expanding the range between bright and dark is insufficient to improve a picture’s detail. Whether a panel can reach 100 cd/m2 (relatively dim) or 500 cd/m2 (incredibly bright), and whether it is black levels are 0.1 (washed out, nearly gray) or 0.005 (incredibly dark), it can ultimately only show so much information based on the signal it’s receiving.
Current popular video formats, including broadcast television and Blu-ray discs, are limited by standards built around the physical boundaries presented by older technologies. Black is set to only so black, because as Christopher Guest eloquently wrote, “it could get none more black.” Similarly, white could only get so bright within the limitations of display technology.
Now, with organic LED (OLED) and local dimming LED backlighting systems on newer LCD panels, that range is increasing. They can reach further extremes, but video formats can’t take advantage of it. Only so much information is presented in the signal, and a TV capable of reaching beyond those limits still has to stretch and work with the information present.
Does that make sense? Probably not, because it is very technical and most consumers do not need to know this. However, we are a site designed to deliver accurate information and give you an education about 4K and HDR. Take it or leave it. Just know that we played a role to inform you before you make a purchase decision.
What Is HDR?
That is where HDR video comes in. It removes the limitations presented by older video signals and provides information about brightness and color across a much wider range. HDR-capable displays can read that information and show an image built from a wider gamut of color and brightness. HDR can display absolutely ANY color.
Besides the wider range, HDR video simply contains more data to describe more steps in between the extremes. This means that very bright objects and very dark objects on the same screen can be shown very bright and very dark if the display supports it, with all of the necessary steps in between described in the signal and not synthesized by the image processor.
To put it more simply, HDR content on HDR-compatible TVs can get brighter and darker at the same time, and show more shades of gray in between. This makes the picture image stunning. Similarly, they can produce deeper and more vivid reds, greens, and blues, and show more shades in between.
Can You See The Difference?
Deep shadows aren’t simply black voids; more details can be seen in the darkness, while the picture stays very dark. Bright shots aren’t simply sunny, vivid pictures; fine details in the brightest surfaces remain clear. Vivid objects aren’t simply saturated; more shades of colors can be seen.
This requires much more data, and like ultra high-definition (UHD) video, current optical media can’t handle it. Blu-ray discs cannot hold HDR information. That will change over the next few years as the UHD Alliance pushes the Ultra HD Blu-ray standard. It is a disc type that can hold more data, and is built to contain 4K video, HDR video, and even object-based surround sound like Dolby Atmos.
HDR Makes A Huge Difference!
It could solve all of the distribution problems of 4K and HDR without requiring a very fast Internet connection. Online streaming can also offer 4K and HDR video, but Ultra HD Blu-ray provides a physical and broadly accessible way to get it.
More Examples Of HDR vs. Non- HDR Displays
What You’ll Need
Don’t expect to use these discs with your existing Blu-ray player, though. While they’re still called Blu-rays, they use different technology and different encoding standards to stuff all of that information onto the medium, and you’ll need an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. There is a difference between the standard Blu-Ray player and the Ultra HD Blu-Ray player. Many consumer get confused and then purchase the wrong player. If you have a 4K UHD TV with or without HDR, you want to make sure you buy the “4K UHD” Blu-Ray player and not just a standard Blu-Ray that does “4K Upscaling”.
This is often what confused consumers. They see the label “4K Upscaling” and think it is a 4K Blu-Ray player. But, it is definitely NOT. 4K Upscaling just means that the player is able to utilize more pixels and increase the resolution of a 1080 HD-made film. However, this is not full 4K.
Be sure to purchase the correct cords as well. When you connect your 4K Blu-Ray player, you need to use an HDMI 2.0 cord. Anything less than this will highly limit the flow of information and defeat the purpose of your 4K TV and 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player.
If you do not want to deal with physical media, HDR content is trickling steadily onto streaming services like Netflix and Vudu. Of course, like any 4K content, HDR depends on having a very fast, reliable Internet connection. If your streaming cannot support it, you won’t be able to watch your desired movie or show in HDR even if it is available. Your system will spin and spin while trying to load the content.
Televisions and Display screens with HDR make a huge difference in the quality of the picture image. The Blacks are darker and the Whites whiter. Colors are vibrant and ‘easy on the eyes’. HDR is simply an awesome benefit. It makes whatever you are watching look more real and true-to-life.
You will need an HDR-compatible TV, as well. HDR is not 4K. However, HDR will only be found in 4K Ultra HD Televisions. Since TV-making requirements and specifications now include HDR, we are seeing more and more HDR capable 4K TVs on the market. This is a great thing!
A 4K screen might support HDR, but that doesn’t apply to all sets. If your TV doesn’t support HDR, it won’t take advantage of the additional information in the signal, and the panel I not calibrated to handle that information even if it was properly read. HDR information might be there, but you will have no idea since your 4K TV doesn’t handle it.
Whenever you take a video with your Smart Phone what is your goal? You are trying to capture the moment so that you can re-watch it later on, right? So, don’t you want the video that you took to look as close as possible to the original scene? YES, we are sure that you do. Well, you are in luck because this is exactly what High Dynamic Range (HDR) accomplishes for you.
Even if the TV can handle the signal, it might not produce a particularly better picture particularly if it’s a less-expensive LED TV. So, if you have not purchased a 4K UHD television yet, you should definitely add this to your shopping criteria. Search for televisions that are labeled as “4K Ultra HD with HDR”.
Types of HDR
HDR isn’t quite a universal format, and currently HDR content is split into two groups: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is the standard pushed by the UHD Alliance. It is a technical standard with specific, defined ranges and specifications that must be met for content and displays to qualify using it. HDR content available on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are generally HDR10. Televisions that support HDR10 are allowed to display the UHD Alliance’s Ultra HD Premium logo.
Dolby Vision is Dolby’s own HDR format. While Dolby requires certification for media and screens to say they’re Dolby Vision compatible, it is less of a distinct standard than HDR10. Dolby Vision, like HDR10, contains much more information about light and color for each pixel. And, this is the key right here. If all of this is more technical than you would like, then just know that when we talk about UHD- Ultra HD and HDR- High Dynamic Range we are referring to the pixels.
Think of pixels as tiny little boxes within the display that hold information like color, contrast, sharpness etc. All this information works together to produce the best picture image possible. HDR features have now been added to these pixels. HDR information is fed into the pixels along with all kinds of other needed data.
However, Dolby Vision media is calibrated to fit the profiles of individual Dolby Vision displays to produce the best picture based on each panel or projector’s limitations and range. The end result is still a picture that has wider, more varied colors than standard dynamic range video. Dolby Vision-compatible televisions will have the Dolby Vision logo on their packaging.
A new standard, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), has been developed by the BBC and Japan’s public broadcaster the NHK. It’s a royalty-free HDR standard that is also backward compatible with standard dynamic range televisions, and has been gaining widespread technical adoption with streaming services and television manufacturers. While JVC, Panasonic, Philips, and Sony have announced support for HLG in their 2017 HDR-compatible TVs, it will take some time to see if this standard will become as popular as or even supercede HDR10 or Dolby Vision as a major force in HDR content distribution.
HDR10 has also gotten a variation in HDR10+, recently announced by Samsung and Amazon Video. HDR10+ takes the HDR10 standard and adds Dynamic Tone Mapping, variable metadata that adjusts brightness levels during video playback. HDR10 uses a standard brightness range, making parts of the screen reach a certain level of darkness or brightness based on those limits.
The metadata in Dynamic Tone Mapping adjusts the range of brightness each TV can use based on the scene or frame, potentially letting dark scenes get darker and bright scenes get brighter than they would with HDR10. Currently only Samsung’s 2017 4K TVs support HDR10+, but we’ll see if adoption expands to other TV manufacturers.
As for which format is better, it simply isn’t clear yet. Each can offer significant improvements over standard dynamic range. Like the clash between Blu-ray and HD-DVD when high-definition video became prominent, we’ll have to see which format gets the strongest foothold in the market. Right now HDR10 and Dolby Vision are both popular among different services and studios, and HLG has a lot of technical potential we’ve yet to see. Similarly, we’ll have to see whether HDR10+ can replace HDR10 outright, or if it will remain a variation only available on Samsung TVs.
Where Is It Now?
Ultra HD Blu-ray discs have been trickling into stores, and major studio releases have been coming out in combination Ultra HD + Blu-ray packs that include films on both Ultra HD and standard Blu-ray discs. It’s a welcome stopgap measure as Ultra HD Blu-ray players are adopted, offering an option for consumers to watch movies on regular Blu-ray until they’re ready to upgrade. Not every Ultra HD Blu-ray film has HDR content, but HDR releases have prominent HDR logos on the front for easy identification.
As for streaming, Netflix recently launched HDR support, and you can watch certain releases like Marco Polo in HDR if your television supports it and your Internet connection is fast enough. Vudu also offers HDR films on demand, YouTube supports HDR content now, and we’re sure to see support expand further in the future.
HDR-capable televisions are no longer rare, or limited to only the high-end lines. The LG Signature OLED65W7P is the most visually striking HDR TV we’ve seen so far. Other HDR-capable TVs include LG’s other OLED televisions, and the 2016 and 2017 models in Samsung’s SUHD, Sony’s XBR, and Vizio’s P and Reference lines.
Since 4K is now the effective standard for TVs, HDR is one of the bigger premium features to consider when you’re buying a new one. HDR will become universal since it has been standardized within the TV association of manufacturers. These are the people who set the requirements for TV-making. They basically agree to all have the same features built into their television. Ultra HD 4K TVs now include HDR. This is a very positive enhancement for consumers to enjoy.
HDR has proven to offer some compelling improvements in contract and color over Standard Definition (SD). We would say MAJOR improvements over SD.
If you are looking to upgrade to 4K, and your budget allows,….you should definitely make HDR be a must-have feature. Very soon, consumers will not have a choice. HDR will be just a normal feature within all Ultra HD 4K Televisions.
Here Are More Examples Of HDR Picture Images
Below is an image with HDR. You can just tell which photos have HDR and which ones do not.
The colors are vivid and vibrant. They appear more real-like as if you are there on the scene.
HDR Photography is Fascinating to look at. We can Post image after image and never get tired of viewing HDR photos.
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