can I manually bump up the brightness or gamma to make a dim LCD panel usable?

Home Forums General Discussion can I manually bump up the brightness or gamma to make a dim LCD panel usable?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  equalizer (@equalizer) 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    equalizer (@equalizer)
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    Hello, I am trying DisplayCal for the first time.  I have tried three times now to buy a UHD, 4k panel for my Alienware 17 R5.  I bought it new with the QHD TN panel, but decided I would prefer the UHD.  The first one was a ChiMei Innolux, reported 99% Adobe RGB  nice and bright, gorgeous!  Two problems – several dead pixels, a group of which was dead center in the top third (most visible area), and, being not the OEM’s brand of AU Optronics (AUO), would not support G-Sync (G-Sync is white listed in laptops for the panels the manufacturer pays nVidia to whitelist; unlike desktop monitors, which have a special license chip in the monitor to enable G-Sync).

    So I tried two more from different eBay sellers.  BOTH seem to be the fake/refurb type displays.  Instead of saying AU Optronics, it says “NO Warranty”.  The manufactured date in the HWiNFO reports a year or so earlier than the sticker lists for manufactured date.  The first one of these was unusably dim – at max brightness, it seemed to be what one might expect for 20-30% brightness in Windows.  The second was barely usable – I would say about 60-70% brightness on a good screen.

    Now, I’ve eaten a lot of shipping costs sending these defective units back and forth!  I did try playing with the gamma and brightness in the nVidia control panel, and I CAN boost them in a way that makes the panel look “normal” brightness.  (easy to read from a normal distance, etc., instead of leaning in to read stuff)

    I was hoping, but I don’ t how, that I could use more advanced calibration software like DisplayCAL to both calibrate the color AND the brightness by forcing higher brightness/gamma, the same way the nVidia control panel does.  I know I cannot have the nVidia be active if I am to calibrate.  But I do not see a way to do this in the software?  Would I manually edit the .icc file to do this?  I am somewhat knew to using all this calibration software.

    One other weird thing – I already set up to buy an i1Display Pro instead, and return my Spyder5Pro, thanks to these forums.  I also found it odd that with the Spyder, two calibrations of the same screen were visibly different, under the same lighting conditions.  Furthermore, on two known good screens, I got very weird brightness values:

    1. On my Lenovo Yoga 14 Thinkpad, which is known to be a 267 nit max brightness screen, Spyder5Pro software reported me as 180 nits!
    2. On my known good QHD panel, which is 400 nits, it reported it as 220 nits!
    3. On this new panel, which I can see is just not bright enough, it reports it as 280 nits!  (If this was a good panel, it should be 400, or at least 350, depending on revision – this is the panel – AUOB173HAN01.0)

    Now so far I have only used Display Cal on the brightness-deficient panel (#3 above), but it reported 190 nits!  What is going on?  This is still using the Spyder, not the xRite i1DisplayPro.  Is the Spyder software really so bad?  It DID give me consistent brightness results by the way on those other screens listed above.  It wasn’t changing more than 0.5 nits per repeated reading.  So why does DisplayCAL seem to “get it right”, because this dim screen makes a lot more sense that it would be 190 nits (which Display Cal reported, using Spyder colorimeter), and not 280 nits (which Spyder software reported)?

    Also, I am guessing it is just due to manufacturing process, but is it normal that, for example, a 400 nit screen (in and in all reviews of the laptop), would measure much less on the first step of the display calibration software (regardless of the software, DisplayCAL, Spyder, etc.)?  I am just wondering,  should I be expecting less?  For example, I know sometimes when they do more detailed screen tests on laptops for reviews, they will take brightness at 9 quadrants of the screen, and it varies +/- 20 nits, and also the max brightness in center does seem to be less than what the manufacturer’s stated nits are.  I.e., even if it was a good screen, rated at 400 nits – should I expect to see, for example, 320 nits reported in the first step of the calibration?  (if I am set at max brightness, of course)  Or should I really expect to see a value close to 400 cd/m2?

    Anwyay, I am hoping that the brightness setting I am seeing means that DisplayCAL is just indeed more accurate.  I am also hoping the xRite i1DisplayPro is worthwhile swapping for.  It would seem so from these forums!  I don’t know how Spyder stays in business?  color gels?  Who would want a plastic gel when the glass filters used in the xRite products will last much longer?

    And finally, my main point I am wondering is, whether I just need to accept the loss of time and frustration and return this third panel (and give up on UHD – I am not about to pay $650 that Dell wants for the OEM original replacement part; these eBay ones have been $130-160 range; at $650, I would just use that money to buy a nice external monitor and keep the QHD, it’s a very nice TN panel, rare in being 8 bit color and 93% sRGB/73% Adobe RGB) — or, if I can somehow force the brightness and make it work (and ALSO calibrated) buy somehow customizing, either via DisplayCal directly, or by editing the calibration file I get from DisplayCal.

    Thank you so much.  I know that is a lot of history to report on this, but I felt it was necessary.

    P.S. While I wish I had, I am beyond the 30 day return period on the laptop, so I cannot just return and re-order with the UHD screen.  Also I would not want to, as I did a lot of custom re-pad and re-paste work to make it run great.  (which it now does!)

    • This topic was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  equalizer. Reason: tried to clarify some of my points

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    Florian Höch (@fhoech)
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    You cannot go higher in peak luminance than what the backlight can do when maxed (gamma doesn’t play a role here). Also, around 200 cd/m2 peak seems plenty for normal use – what environment are you using this laptop in? If it’s in bright sunlight, I can see 200 not being quite enough, but indoors that shouldn’t be an issue.


    equalizer (@equalizer)
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    Thank you Florian.  Yeah, I know if the backlight is defective, can’t really fix it, was just hoping to artificially compensate and increase the perceived brightness/contrast.  I will return this panel, since it’s clearly defective.

    To my eyes, for general computer usage, I have a hard time reading and seeing details, even in a dim room, unless the brightness is around 250-320 nits, 180 is only suitable, barely, if room is completely blacked out with no other lights on.

    I think if you are talking about photo proof work, then yes, I could see that the 180 nits would be actually ideal, but I just find it hard to use the computer at that level, I would have to lean in to read or see anything.  (I run this 17″ panel at the equivalent of approx 2400×1400 via scaling in Windows.)

    Thanks again for your response, I know my post was long-winded.  Just was getting desperate, this being the third panel with issues (and being perfect in every other way).  But I will continue the search for an acceptable unit. 🙂

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