What Is HDR? HDR VS SDR Comparison


SDR vs HDR, what does it all mean and when does it matter? SDR stands for Standard dynamic range and HDR means High dynamic range. Blu-ray and 1080P streaming is limited to SDR while 4K UHD disc and 4k streaming uses HDR. Which do you think looks better? Is the upgrade to HDR worth it? In this article, let us learn more about HDR VS SDR.

HDR VS SDR Comparison

Before look at the comparison between HRD VS SDR, first let’s examine what SDR and HDR mean.

What is SDR?

SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) describes images or video using a conventional gamma curve signal. The conventional gamma curve was based on the limits of the cathode ray tube (CRT) which allows for a maximum luminance of 100 cd/m2.

What is HDR?

HDR, the short of High Dynamic Range, is a dynamic range higher than usual. It’s the next generation of color clarity and realism in image and video, which refers to the wider contrast or color range between the lightest and darkest tones in an image or video.

HDR VS SDR Difference

In terms of SDR vs HDR, it is important to understand there is a difference between the real effect and what we think. For example, HDR images aren’t captured as the eye sees them. Images captured will be darker or brighter than what’s visible to the eyes. If an image is overexposed, the appropriate color info on the brighter parts is lost. Similarly, when an image is underexposed, true color info on the darker parts is lost.

So SDR vs HDR differs in the amount of light in an image and the lost color information restored. Thus we get realistic images with enhanced detail and depth. The popular HDR standards are HDR 10 (introduced in 2015 and widely used), HDR10+ introduced in 2017, Dolby Vision (supports 12-bit color depth), and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), also known as broadcast HDR.

To put it simply, HDR is brighter than SDR. HDR allows you to see more of the details and colors in scenes. HDR is superior in these aspects:

Brightness: HDR allows brightness upper to 1000 nits and lower to under 1 nit.

Color gamut: HDR usually adopts P3, and even Rec.2020 colour gamut. SDR uses Rec.709 in general.

Color depth: HDR can be in 8-bit, 10-bit and 12-bit color depth. While SDR is usually in 8-bit, and very few use 10-bit.


There you have it. As you can see there can be a huge difference when comparing SDR vs HDR in some scenes. Well, whether or not HDR is good for you will ultimately come down to your own personal experience.

Author: Chris Gu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *