Benefits & issues with OLED/Mini-LED monitors when consuming SDR content

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      I’m starting to get the itch to buy either a mini-led or an OLED soon, so I’ll throw this question in here:

      I consume a lot of SDR content, so I’m curious how the HDR features of the monitors work with that. For example, do I get full benefit of their high contrast ratio that the local dimming provides on mini-led monitors when consuming SDR content? I’ve read a lot of complaints about weird behavior where it boosts brightness incorrectly and makes it look washed out. How prevalent are these problems with the current new wave of mini-LED monitors? Do similar issues exist on OLED monitors?


        Mini LED monitors use a local dimming algorithm which has to decide when to brighten and when to dim each zone and how much by. Sometimes you can’t actually activate the setting under SDR and sometimes you can but you have other restrictions such as locked brightness. Under SDR you don’t get the same tone mapping or luminance precision you get under HDR, so you tend to find large areas of medium and bright shade being displayed at high brightness if you ramp up the brightness setting or it’s locked at a high level. This can make things appear ‘flooded’ in places and can be somewhat overwhelming or uncomfortable visually.

        Under HDR such scenes would include isolated bright shades, including well-defined highlights, and superior depth to many of the medium shades. If you lower brightness or the brightness is limited for you under SDR with local dimming you’d tend to find some of the brighter shades and highlights look quite dull. We always cover local dimming behaviour in our reviews, by the way, so I’d recommend reading the relevant sections of a few such as the X32 FP and Odyssey Neo G7. As for OLEDs, they have no such issues as they don’t use dimming algorithms, they have natural per-pixel illumination. But their luminance levels will still be capped under SDR compared to HDR and again they benefit from superior tone-mapping precision under HDR.


          @PCM2 and when you say “under HDR” are you referring to watching HDR content, or watching SDR content in HDR mode? Because that’s also something I’m curious about: what differences do you get with SDR content when switching HDR on in windows?


            “Under HDR” means you’re actively using HDR at both ends. Sitting in an SDR environment with an HDR signal active is not that. The monitor is simply on “HDR standby” awaiting actual HDR content, displaying SDR content under HDR is just an awkward and flawed experience and is only designed as a transitionary phase between the two. From the X32 FP review for example:

            “Image balance is upset when viewing SDR content under HDR, as if gamma is quite a bit too low overall which gives a rather foggy look and reveals a fair bit of unintended detail – colour accuracy also suffers. As usual. we’d recommend only activating HDR in Windows if you’re about to use an HDR application that specifically requires it.”


              If this help the innocn 32m2v work perfect on SDR and HDR, I Always have HDR on, on windows and the screen, I’m very happy with it and now is very cheap.


                You say that, but what you really mean is you are satisfied with its representation with HDR on but displaying SDR content. Have you actually measured gamma or colour accuracy at all? And what controls are locked off under HDR that are available under SDR? It’s extremely unlikely that it is actually displaying a similar image and doesn’t lock anything off.


                  Is well know that the Innocn will swap HDR/SDR when you leave HDR ON.


                    Automatic HDR activation when an HDR signal is received isn’t anything particularly novel, most monitors do that. But they’re going to be in their HDR operating mode if receiving an HDR signal, even if you’re viewing content designed for SDR. Which brings with it the issues covered in my previous post(s) such as setting restrictions and upset image balance. You may still find the image balance fine or even like it in this state, but that doesn’t make it “perfect” or something everyone would want to use. I haven’t come across a monitor where the experience of viewing ‘SDR in HDR’ isn’t compromised in some way.


                      Well he say consuming, so he may or he may not see differences all depends of the mapping, I recently saw a Da vinci video where they show how to HDR 300~400 nits. Now If he ask how to work SDR on a HDR, I will say turn it off, because almost in every monitor options under HDR are off, I buy a Calibrite Display plus HL because they promise HDR calibration in future updates, also I saw some Apps that you can have some options. I believe the new Adobe Lightroom have a on/off button to work HDR/SDR on the same photo.


                        Semantics, but browsing websites and playing games also counts as “consuming SDR content”. The vast majority of the time, if you view (or “consume”) said content under SDR but you’re using an HDR signal the gamma will be completely messed up and you’ll see an ugly uplift of dark detail. Not to mention colour accuracy is completely off-base and your controls are restricted. There are no two ways about it – it’s a compromised experience and is only designed as a temporary state as the ‘monitor awaits’ actual HDR content. Again, if you’re happy with how things look and the lack of flexibility in this SDR-HDR limbo state then great, but as a general recommendation I would reserve the HDR signal for what it’s designed for and that is actual HDR content*.

                        *Content creation is a different kettle of fish. If you’re creating content with an actively managed pipeline that’s converting an HDR signal to SDR, as Adobe Lightroom and others can do, then it’s fine to leave HDR on. But this active handling of the signal is absolutely not what is being done in the vast majority of cases when “consuming SDR content” under HDR.


                          Relevant post(s) from somebody who recently upgraded from the Acer X32 FP (Mini LED IPS) Dell Alienwware AW3225QF (QD-OLED).

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