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dmtzcain

There is HDR video and game content but no HDR still images?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

HDR Monitors increase the amount of light (nits) and/or decrease the shadows. To prevent color banding, sometimes 8-bit color space has a lookout table or the monitor is 10-bit.

So far this is my understanding and I am able to see the increased contrast and vibrant colors of HDR in Video and Games. But what about still images?

 

I did some research and found here that some image formats - OpenEXR, Radiance (.HDR), DirectDraw Surface (.DDS), and JPEG XR - can display the increased contrast and wide color gamut in still images.

 

Web browsers can display HDR video, but they don't seem to support these file formats nor take advantage of the increased nits & WCG in images that could potentially have this information, for example, a screenshot of an HDR video or game. What gives?

 

Balubish Tech in this video shows that just by encoding a video in HDR, there is increased nits and shadows (contrast), even if the source was SDR. If he is right or wrong, I do not care, but it got me thinking that it is the image encoding/format what is needed to make HDR images. Even though it seems easy to achieve that encoding in Premiere Pro, it does not seem to be as straight forward or supported in Photoshop. Furthermore,  wouldn't any 16-bit RAW photograph be enough to encode/display a wide color gamut? Then the only thing the image would need is the peak brightness.

 

Why do we have HDR video and Games but no HDR still images? 

 

Cheers!

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There's likely no definitive answer, but you could compile a collection of answers that would support why nobody bothered, including:

  • HDR imaging has been a thing for a while and it's gotten pretty good at mapping a high dynamic range into a standard dynamic range.
  • HDR images would take up a lot more space. In the world where we upload photos to Instagram and Facebook at a mind boggling rate, smaller image sizes would be preferable over quality (plus most people filter the crap out of their images so quality goes out the window anyway).
  • It's probably only "eye popping" in moving images rather than still ones.
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Still images have had High Dynamic Range for years. Specifically smartphones since they have been on the front lines in terms of Image Signal Processors and machine learning. Go check out examples of Apple's smartHDR in the iPhone XS/Max and XR to see the latest iteration of the technology. 

 

There is just no flashy marketing standard used for it. 


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Posted · Original PosterOP
29 minutes ago, DrMacintosh said:

Still images have had High Dynamic Range for years. Specifically smartphones since they have been on the front lines in terms of Image Signal Processors and machine learning. Go check out examples of Apple's smartHDR in the iPhone XS/Max and XR to see the latest iteration of the technology. 

 

There is just no flashy marketing standard used for it. 

Right, High Dynamic Range in photography has been around for a while now.

 
 
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45 minutes ago, Mira Yurizaki said:
  • HDR imaging has been a thing for a while and it's gotten pretty good at mapping a high dynamic range into a standard dynamic range.

 

Interestingly though, what you guys are mentioning is quite different than what HDR displays could offer. You both are right that smartHDR for iPhones, as well as most HDR for photography, use their sensors to get information on the darkest shadows and the brightest lights. Then they "flatten" the image to display an image that is less dark and less bright but with the details of both extremes. ("mapping into a standard dynamic range")

 

This is called HDR, yes, though it is very different from what happens in video and games, where the contrast values are expanded not contracted. All of this is very confusing.

I just found out that Nvidia can capture HDR images (not photography HDR, but HDR10) and they actually use the OpenEXR format I mentioned before. So the image is not brought into standard dynamic range but keeps the super brights and super darks.

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44 minutes ago, dmtzcain said:

This is called HDR, yes, though it is very different from what happens in video and games, where the contrast values are expanded not contracted. All of this is very confusing.

While people will argue that contrast ratios are what define HDR, I argue it's not really about that. The overall goal is to preserve details on the final output when the thing you want to capture has a high dynamic range. When HDR rendering (this is different than outputting HDR video to displays) was becoming a thing in the mid 2000s, NVIDIA summed up the motivation for HDR rather well:

 

Quote

... bright things can be really bright, dark things can be really dark, and details can be seen in both.

 

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I think the reason why there is no demand for this is the fact that a significant amount of commercial images still end up in print (billboards, magazines), which has a dynamic range of ~5 stops (~32:1 contrast ratio). As a result, "HDR" in commercial images is achieved by compressing the dynamic range of a scene into a reproducible range.

 

This is almost never done with tone mapping, but with lighting on set or by compositing in post-production (or a combination of both). The result is an image that contains all of the dynamic range in a scene, and can be reproduced with an 8-bit JPEG on a normal display or in print.

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