Getting a new TV is an exciting decision, especially when the TV supports HDR technology, which essentially means brighter highlights and a high dynamic range for immersive viewing.
However, some people who have purchased the new fancy Samsung TVs have been far from impressed, with HDR looking washed out.
So what could be the reasons behind this?
Some of the reasons why HDR looks washed out on Samsung TV include the following:
- You’re watching SDR-mastered content in HDR settings.
- The peak brightness is too high for your TV.
- The brightness and contrast levels are incorrect.
- You’re watching HDR content in a brightly-lit room.
- The TV backlight is either too high or too low.
This article will explore some of the reasons why HDR looks washed out on Samsung TV.
Additionally, I will provide some tips on how you can fix this issue on your new TV.
So, let’s get you the bright, realistic picture you paid for!
1. You’re Watching SDR-Mastered Content in HDR Settings
One of the reasons HDR looks washed out on some TVs is the content you are watching.
As explained by Wired.com, most of the content you may be playing is for SDR, which stands for standard dynamic range.
Unlike HDR, SDR is relatively dimmer and has a lower peak brightness of about 100 nits.
If your TV supports HDR, it can produce peak brightness levels of more than ten times that of SDR, even when playing content mastered for SDR.
However, HDR can only support a peak brightness level of more than 1,000 nits.
When watching this content in HDR, your TV will likely revert to the default settings for maximum contrast and backlight to make up for the top brightness differences, which results in the image looking washed out.
As further reiterated by lifewire.com, although HDR technology such as HDR+ will allow you to play SDR content with HDR effects, the conversion of SDR content to HDR content is not always accurate.
It may result in some scenes looking washed out.
The solution to this problem is to find the HDR+ settings and switch them off.
You will likely enjoy the content in SDR more than HDR since the conversion might be throwing the entire image off.
2. Higher Peak Brightness Than Your TV Capabilities
One of the common misconceptions is that the peak brightness from HDR support is similar across all TVs.
However, HDR was a much broader color palette, with some TVs only capable of generating only 600 nits of peak brightness, while others are capable of more than 1,000 nits.
Most mid-range TVs (your TV may be one of them) cannot reproduce the peak brightness level when viewing HDR content.
For instance, if a given scene has a highlight of 1,000 nits and your TV can only support around 400 nits or 600 nits, your TV will not be able to reproduce these bright highlights.
Consequently, your TV will try to make up for these failings through a process known as tone-mapping so that the content can fit its capabilities, and as a result, the image or scene may appear washed out.
3. Improper Brightness and Contrast Levels
The secret to a good HDR experience is sometimes as simple as effectively setting the correct brightness and contrast level.
As previously discussed, your TV will sometimes revert to the default brightness and contrast levels, which means that even when watching HDR content on a TV that supports it, the colors and images will look dim or washed out.
You will need to change the color space from native to auto for the best results.
This adjustment will automatically adjust the brightness and contrast level to match the HDR content, significantly enhancing image quality.
The difference between the native and auto option is that the native option expands incoming signals to the TV’s color gamut.
Depending on your TV’s capability, this expansion may lead to over-saturation or enhanced images.
On the other hand, the auto option adjusts the TV’s display gamut to match the incoming signal.
This auto-setting helps to prevent color oversaturation or a washed-out appearance.
So, try both of these settings and see which one works best for you.
However, defaulting to auto usually does the trick since it will ensure that the settings change as your content’s format changes.
4. Watching HDR Content in a Brightly-Lit Room
The HDR setting on your TV will always look worse in a bright room.
Therefore, before exploring any other options, assess your watching environment.
As explained by rtings.com, HDR typically displays low contrast and is ideal in dark rooms.
Like in a movie theater, you will get the best results watching HDR content when you watch the content in a darkened room.
Imagine going to the cinema and watching the movie in a brightly lit room?
The viewing experience will no doubt be terrible.
I recommend switching to SDR when watching content during the day and reverting to HDR during the night for HDR content to get the most from your HDR-content viewing experience.
Alternatively, if you do not want to watch HDR content at night, you should adjust the lighting in your room by closing the curtains and turning off overhead lights for a better experience.
If everything else fails, you can contact a professional calibrator to assist you in adjusting your Samsung TV settings to the optimal viewing settings for HDR content.
5. TV Backlight Is Too Low or Too High
Most experts advise against tinkering with your TV’s brightness setting and instead seek the services of a professional calibrator.
However, before you call the pros, you can adjust your TV’s backlight for the best results when using HDR.
The TV backlight affects just how bright your television is, which can significantly help to enhance picture quality.
For instance, if you plan to watch HDR content during the day, you want the backlight to be higher.
Otherwise, the light in the room will make the images less clear and appear washed out.
On the other hand, set the TV backlight to low during the night or when viewing in a darker room.
This adjustment will help enhance the picture quality because it will make the scenes look brighter.
The correct settings will depend on the brightness level in your watching space and your professional preferences.
I recommend adjusting the settings until you find the picture quality you’re looking for.
It may take a bit of trial and error, but you will undoubtedly figure it out with some patience.
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