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What Is Contrast Ratio? Everything You Need to Know

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Shopping for gadgets can be a challenge if you’re not tech-savvy. Today, we will go deeper and explain the science behind monitor contrast ratio. Basically, the contrast ratio is a crucial aspect in determining the quality of a screen, as it indicates the ratio between the brightest white and the darkest black that a screen can offer. It’s easy to get blindsided by fancy features like a curved form factor, high resolution, or a big screen. We tend to forget important features that have a significant impact on the quality of our viewing experience. One information that we tend to forget when buying a new monitor is the contrast ratio.

Everything you need to know about contrast ratio

What is a contrast ratio?

Contrast ratio is the measure of the difference between the maximum and minimum brightness of a screen, or in other words, the ratio between the brightest white and the darkest black. For example, a contrast ratio of 1000:1 means that the brightest white image is 1000 times brighter than the darkest black.

In general, a higher contrast ratio is better because a 100,000:1 ratio screen can produce darker blacks and more saturated colors than a 1000:1 ratio screen, resulting in a brighter picture. natural. However, a higher value is not always better, as you have to take into account external lighting conditions and screen type.

What is a good contrast ratio?

As mentioned above, a higher contrast ratio has its benefits, but it’s not the only thing to consider. For example, a projector with a lower contrast ratio might provide an optimal viewing experience if you’ll be using it in a room with high ambient light.

Contrast ratios can also vary significantly between different screen types. While a transmissive digital projector may only have a 200:1 contrast ratio, many newer TVs have more than 4000:1. But even these figures don’t tell the whole story, as contrast ratios depend on the underlying technology and how they are measured.

Choose the right contrast ratio

Since contrast specifications can be misleading, it may take some effort to determine if a display offers rich black levels and a natural-looking image. Visual testing is the best tool at your disposal if a screen’s black levels look washed out and gray, its contrast ratio probably isn’t high enough. However, there are other ways to make sure you don’t get scammed:

  • Look for vendors that publish ANSI contrast specifications, as this is a more accurate reflection of the display’s actual contrast range. Unfortunately, many companies do not disclose these numbers, as ANSI readings tend to be much lower than Full On/Off, and it is simply a better marketing strategy for these companies to focus on the latter.
  • Pay attention to backlight technology. If you are looking for a TV with a high contrast ratio, an OLED screen will offer a better viewing experience than an LCD panel, as the pixels in the OLED are not dependent on backlight and can display deeper blacks without a blackout effect. “bloom”. .
  • Stick to the same manufacturer when making comparisons. Since each company arrives at its contrast ratios through different means, comparing screens produced by the same manufacturer is a great way to get consistent numbers.

How is contrast ratio measured?

Unfortunately, there is no standardized measure of contrast ratio. Particularly in the television market, manufacturers can essentially inflate their ratings due to a combination of measures and unstated variables. That said, most contrast ratios are measured using one of two methods:

ANSI Contrast (Measures static contrast ratio)

This method uses a checkerboard test image of alternating black and white squares and measures the average white output divided by the average black output. Displays measured using this method typically have lower contrast ratios because ANSI contrast provides a more realistic measure of display performance. However, since the test can incorporate the lighting conditions of a room into its measurement, it must be performed in an ideal environment to achieve the most accurate results.

Full On/Off (measures dynamic contrast ratio)

This method measures a completely white screen against a completely black screen and reflects equal proportions of light from the screen to the room and vice versa. It is the preferred method by many manufacturers as it cancels out outdoor lighting conditions and results in an ideal (and therefore higher) contrast ratio. Unfortunately, dynamic contrast specs are often misleading, as they can be inflated and don’t say much about what the contrast of an average image will look like.

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Lucas Simonds
Lucas Simonds
At Bollyinside, Lucas Simonds serves in the role of Senior Editor. He finds entertainment in anything and everything related to technology, from laptops to smartphones and everything in between. His favorite hobby may be collecting headphones of all shapes and sizes, even if he keeps them all in the same drawer.


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