It doesn't mean that you have a 4K TV you'll enjoy the fullest 4K quality. This is because there are two types of 4K Video - HDR and SDR. The similarity between the two is that they have 4000 lines of resolution. Although both have the same number of horizontal resolutions, their picture quality differs, however. What are the differences between HDR vs SDR? Let's figure out the truth.

Introduction: HDR VS SDR

Let's delve into the definitions and principal features of SDR and HDR before advancing.

HDR vs SDR: what shall you know?

SDR, or Standard Dynamic Range, is a video standard typically found on non-4K HDTVs or in cinemas. Although certain high-grade SDR televisions produce commendable image quality, they cannot compete with the contrast ratio offered by HDR. 

Switching gears to HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range, it was initially used in still photography prior to transitioning to TVs, smartphones, computer monitors, among others. HDR offers a holistic color range, coupled with superior picture quality closely mirroring that observed with the human eye. The progression from SDR to HDR provides a boost in overall image details, something not achievable through SDR.

Compare: What is the Difference between SDR and HDR

Brightness Level
Up to 1,000 / 10,000 nits of brightness
providing a more vibrant and varied imagery.
Typically up to 100 nits of brightness
Color Depth
Usually supports 10 or 12 bits per color
so it can display billions of colors
Uses 8 bits per color
around 16.7 million possible colors.
Contrast Ratio
Higher contrast ratio
noticeable difference between the dark and brightest parts
Lower contrast ratio, meaning the difference between the darkest black and the brightest white is less distinct.
Color Volume & Gamut Supports wider color gamuts such as Rec.2020 or DCI-P3, resulting in more accurate and realistic colors. Covers smaller color space (Rec. 709 for HD), thus the range of colors viewed is limited.
Detail Representation Retains detail in both bright and dark areas of the screen due to the wider dynamic range. Bright areas may be overexposed and lose detail, dark areas may be underexposed and look muddy.
Equipment Compatibility Needs specific hardware to display: HDR-compatible TVs, monitors, and media players. Can be viewed on almost all screens, no special hardware is required.

💡For a more direct video compare between SDR vs HDR, you can check the below YouTube video: 

If you're an enthusiast looking for a superior home cinema experience, you might appreciate a 4K HDR TV for playing HDR videos. Tech keeps growing everyday, at present, it is possible to upscale SDR videos to HDR content using AI technology.

Convert SDR to HDR with UniFab HDR Upscaler AI

Convert SDR to HDR with unifab hdr upscaler ai

UniFab HDR Upscaler AI 

Upgrade video from SDR to HDR10, or upscale SDR/HDR videos to Dolby Vision with AI technology. 
  • Upscale video to Dolby Vision to maximize video quality
  • Upscale SDR to HDR10 for optimal compatibility with your HDR device
  • Directly import downloads from StreamFab for upsclaing
  • Upscale your video with flexible customization based on your needs
  • Get 50x faster speed with GPU acceleration, such as NVIDIA CUDA, AMD
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How to use UniFab to upscale SDR to HDR

Step 1

Download the UniFab HDR Upscaler AI software

Double-click UniFab and choose the mode 'HDR Upscaler' you need when it runs.

Convert SDR to HDR with unifab hdr upscaler ai

Step 2

Load the source and edit the output video

Click the Add Video button to select the SDR video you want to edit in the local file. Then begin to edit the loaded video as desired.

Convert SDR to HDR with unifab hdr upscaler ai

Step 3

Start to edit the video

Customize the video to be upscaled as HDR or Dolby Vision, click 'Settings' to choose the video codec, resolution, color space, etc.

Convert SDR to HDR with unifab hdr upscaler ai

UniFab Conversion report of SDR to HDR 

🪄 Scenario 1: 

sdr to hdr with unifab hdr upscaler ai

In the movie, the overall SDR video is somewhat bright, with the central glow of fire illuminating the village amidst other sources of light, though the contrast is somewhat weak.

However, after the transformation of the SDR video into HDR video via UniFab HDR Upscaler AI, one can distinctly perceive the upgrade in visual effect, approaching the quality of native HDR.

🪄 Scenario 2: 

sdr to hdr with unifab hdr upscaler ai

The overall appearance of the SDR version is overly bright and saturated; it gives off the vibe of a leisurely spring outing, which does not capture the intent of the movie's expression.

However, after transforming the SDR into HDR video using Unifab HDR Upscaler AI, the visual effect closely aligns with native HDR, successfully encapsulating the emotive context of the film.

🪄 Scenario 3: 

sdr to hdr with unifab hdr upscaler ai

The main character is about to plunge into the sea in the script. In the HDR video, the sky is cloud-heavy, the lighting is dim, and there's an oppressive ambiance, which perfectly aligns with the narrative tone. 

On the other hand, the SDR video, being overly bright, gives off a sensation of an imminent clear sky, hinting that things are about to turn around for the better - a sentiment that considerably deviates from the intended cinematic language.

The Unifab HDR Upscaler AI transformed the SDR video into HDR and caused a noticeable shift in visual aesthetics. The result now closely mirrors the authentic HDR experience and doesn't deliver a mismatched atmosphere that could conflict with the plot, thus more effectively articulating the cinematic expression.

🪄 Scenario 4: 

sdr to hdr with unifab hdr upscaler ai

The scene unfolds at sunset, showcasing the native HDR's natural presentation. Beyond the gleaming reflections of sunlight piercing through, the overall frame is shrouded in darkness, the light and shadow distribution aptly conforming to the given time setting. 

In contrast, the SDR rendering seemingly evokes the time right at the dawn, the nascent sun lighting up tableware and casting a noticeable glow on the face of the man in the center, robed in white. 

The transition from SDR to HDR appears intermediate between the two, yielding slightly better results than SDR alone.


Now that you’ve learned enough about the capability of UniFab HDR Upscaler AI , why don’t you give it a try by downloading it for free today and undertake SDR to HDR conversion painlessly? In the final analysis, knowing HDR vs SDR is beneficial to better enjoy your video content. You can upscale SDR video to HDR10 or Dolby Vision with a professional converter program, which is suitable for all kinds of scenes and all types of videos. How fantastic!