University of Cambridge > > Rainbow Group Seminars > What can we see on a high-dynamic range display?

What can we see on a high-dynamic range display?

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A typical computer or smartphone display has a luminance of 200 cd/m2. By comparison, high-dynamic range (HDR) displays have luminance of 1000 cd/m2 or even 10,000 cd/m2, the brightness of the sky on a sunny day. However, little is known about how to efficiently encode visual information at such high luminance levels. To investigate what is visible to the human user at such luminances, we measured contrast sensitivity from 0.02 cd/m2 to 7000 cd/m2 and for three colour directions (black-white or achromatic, red-green, and yellow-violet). The stimuli were 2-dimensional wavelets of various spatial frequencies (0.125 to 6 cpd), shown on an HDR display. We found that achromatic contrast sensitivity has an inverted U-shape as a function of background luminance, with peak sensitivity at 200 cd/m2; this means that the human visual system is less sensitive to achromatic banding artifacts when viewing a bright scene, requiring less detailed representation of luminance. Red-green and yellow-violet contrast sensitivities were monotonic functions of background luminance, saturating at 200 cd/m2 with no significant change up to 7,000 cd/m2; thus, the human visual system remains equally sensitive to colour banding artifacts in when viewing a bright scene, meaning that colour fidelity requirements are constant at higher luminances. Based on these measurements, we developed a model that predicts contrast sensitivity for the average observer.

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