Standard-dynamic-range video

Standard-dynamic-range (SDR) video is a video technology which represents light intensity based on the brightness, contrast and color characteristics and limitations of a cathode ray tube (CRT) display.[1] SDR video is able to represent a video or picture's colors with a maximum luminance around 100 cd/m2, a black level around 0.1 cd/m2 and Rec.709 / sRGB color gamut.[1][2] It uses the gamma curve as its electro-optical transfer function.[1][3]

The first CRT television sets were manufactured in 1934 and the first color CRT television sets were manufactured in 1954.[4][5] The term "standard-dynamic-range video" was adopted to distinguish SDR video from high-dynamic-range video, a new technology that was developed in the 2010s to overcome SDR's limits.[1][6]

Technical detailsEdit

Transfer functionEdit

Conventional gamma curves:

The linear part of the conventional gamma curve was used to limit camera noise in low light video but is no longer needed with high dynamic range (HDR) cameras.[7] An example of a conventional gamma curve would be Rec. 601:


ITU-R Recommendation BT.1886 describe the reference EOTF of SDR.[3] It's a gamma curve representing the response of CRT to video signal.[3] It has been published by ITU in 2011.[3]

A transfer function that is closer to Weber's law allows for a larger dynamic range, at the same bit depth, than a conventional gamma curve.[8] HDR standards such as hybrid log–gamma (HLG) and SMPTE ST 2084 allow for a larger dynamic range by using a different transfer function.[8][9] HLG is compatible with SDR displays.[10]

Color gamutEdit

In some cases the term SDR is also used with a meaning including the standard color gamut (i.e. Rec.709 / sRGB color primaries).[1] HDR uses wide color gamut (WCG) such as Rec. 2020 or DCI-P3 color primaries.[1][11]

Dynamic rangeEdit

The dynamic range that can be perceived by the human eye in a single image is around 14 stops.[8] SDR video with a conventional gamma curve and a bit depth of 8-bits per sample has a dynamic range of about 6 stops, assuming a luminance quantisation threshold of 5% is used.[8] A threshold of 5% is used in the paper (instead of the standard 2% threshold) to allow for the typical display being dimmer than ideal. Professional SDR video with a bit depth of 10-bits per sample has a dynamic range of about 10 stops.[8]

Displaying SDR video on modern displaysEdit

While conventional gamma curves are useful for low light and are compatible with CRT displays, they can only represent a limited dynamic range.[8][9] Standards require SDR to be viewed on a display with same characteristics as a CRT (i.e. 100 nits peak brightness, gamma curve, Rec. 709 color primaries).[1][3] However, current displays are often far more capable than CRT's limits.[1] On such display, higher brightness and wider color gamut can be displayed by adjusting and trying to enhance the SDR picture.[1] HDR is however required for the creative intents to be preserved.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "HDR (High Dynamic Range) on TVs explained". FlatpanelsHD. Retrieved 2021-04-25.
  2. ^ "ITU-R Report BT.2390 - High dynamic range television for production and international programme exchange". ITU. Retrieved 2021-04-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f "BT.1886 : Reference electro-optical transfer function for flat panel displays used in HDTV studio production". Retrieved 2021-04-24.
  4. ^ "15GP22 Color CRT". Early Television Museum. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  5. ^ "Early Electronic Television". Early Television Museum. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  6. ^ "CES 2014: Dolby Vision promises a brighter future for TV, Netflix and Xbox Video on board". Expert Reviews. Retrieved 2021-04-24.
  7. ^ a b c "Study Group Report High-Dynamic-Range (HDR) Imaging Ecosystem". Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  8. ^ a b c d e f T. Borer; A. Cotton. "A "Display Independent" High Dynamic Range Television System" (PDF). BBC. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  9. ^ a b "Dolby Vision White Paper" (PDF). Dolby Laboratories. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  10. ^ "High Dynamic Range" (PDF). European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 2015-11-01.
  11. ^ "BT.2100 : Image parameter values for high dynamic range television for use in production and international programme exchange". Retrieved 2021-04-25.

External linksEdit