Budget For Highlights: SDR vs HDR

We’ve written a lot about specular highlights, how there should be enough headroom above diffuse white and how studies have shown participants prefer specular highlights appreciably brighter than diffuse white, by as much as 3X or even more. Just how does that figure compare to SDR video?

“In traditional imaging, the range allocated to these highlights [specular highlights and emissives] was fairly low and the majority of the image range was allocated to the diffuse reflective regions of objects. For example, in hardcopy print the highlights would be 1.1x higher luminance than the diffuse white maximum. In traditional video, the highlights were generally set to be no higher than 1.25x the diffuse white. Of the various display applications, cinema allocated the highest range to the highlights, up to 2.7x the diffuse white.”


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