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With the advent of 4K and higher acquisition in video production these days, resolution seems to be king – but is it?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last few years like this guy, chances are you’ve probably heard buzzwords like 4K and Ultra HD thrown around as a major selling point when it comes to purchasing a TV. While it’s true that higher resolution is key for improved picture quality, perhaps what’s most important is the way that color information and dynamic range are displayed. What’s dynamic range? Glad you asked. Let’s jump in.

“As with any modern advancement, it will take time to bring this incredible technology to the masses.”

Dynamic Range explained

Dynamic range describes the measurement between maximum and minimum values. While not specific to photography, we can interpret dynamic range as the measurement between the whitest whites and the blackest blacks in an image, or the lowest and highest values of density and luminance.

So what does High Dynamic Range mean?

The essence of HDR imagery is increased brightness accompanied by a significant expansion of dynamic range – where both the brightness of the highlights and all their associated details are elevated to better emulate the real world. While an image’s overall brightness is increased, details remain in darkest portions of a scene as well. The results are images that have a far higher contrast ratio than any previous viewing experience. Still following me? Take a look at this photo for a visual representation of what’s happening in an HDR image:

Fake it till you break it

HDR is not simply a dramatic elevation in screen brightness and contrast, and you won’t get the same results if you crank up the values on your SDR display (trust me I’ve tried). It is about the enhanced detail the viewer is able to perceive in those bright and dark areas that makes the technology so special. And this can only be achieved through an HDR capable display. So do yourself a favor and crank down the brightness – your TV will thank you.

Seeing is believing

As of November 7th, you can now watch YouTube videos in HDR on supported devices, such as HDR TVs with the new Chromecast Ultra, and on all 2016 Samsung SUHD and UHD TVs. This is a large step for the video streaming behemoth to take, and it solidifies HDR’s role in resolution enhancements for years to come. Here’s a playlist of HDR content that YouTube is already supporting.

“As with any modern advancement, it will take time to bring this incredible technology to the masses and meet broadcast and projection standards. Until then, it’s time for me to buy a new HDR-ready TV.”

 

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