You can only get an ideal HDR image on the PS4 and PS5 if you ignore Sony’s specifications.
Gaming without HDR is hard for many of us to imagine, after all, games get more intense colors, stronger contrasts and therefore more ‘punch’. In order to exhaust the entire brightness range of your television, you can use a test on the PS4, PS4 Pro and PS5 that leads you to the optimal HDR image with just a few keystrokes – at least as long as your living room is brightly lit.
However, HDR content only shines in its full splendor in a dark environment, without any pale colors or a pale black. In this regard, however, Sony’s test fails miserably, which is why we tell you how to properly calibrate your PlayStation.
Requirements for a perfect HDR image
As mentioned at the beginning, HDR content should primarily be enjoyed in dark rooms so that the contrast between light and dark really comes into its own. OLED televisions are particularly sensitive to this because they do not have as much brightness as LCD or LED TVs. In a bright room, they lose their luminosity, so draw your curtains during the day!
In addition to the dimmed lighting conditions, a setting on your television is also important for an ideal HDR picture: das Tone Mapping. Turn this on if possible ‘HGiG’, because then the developers’ specifications are taken to heart and the brightness values are obtained from the console itself.
This is tone mapping: HDR content is created with peak brightness levels of up to 10,000 nits. In practice, however, no television reaches these regions, so the brightness of the source material must be downscaled for the specifications of the TV display. This process is called tone mapping.
Dynamic Tone Mapping and Why You Should Turn It Off: With Dynamic Tone Mapping, on the other hand, the television itself adjusts the brightness values depending on the scene in question. To do this, it uses the brightness information of a frame and adjusts it using an algorithm.
HGiG makes calibration a lot easier and delivers the best results in most games. (Image Source: Plasma TV for Gaming / Youtube)
As a result, bright image areas are amplified for a gaudy look on many models, but serious side effects can also be expected. Shaded areas are often bleached out or bright image components outshine their surroundings.
But we definitely don’t want that! So simply turn on HGiG or, if your TV doesn’t support HGiG, turn off Dynamic Tone Mapping.
Additional settings on the TV
Aside from the energy-saving functions of your television, which you should switch off for a bright HDR picture, you can also set a warmer color temperature for the white balance in the screen settings of your television.
By default, the color temperature is set to 0, but a warmer setting is the guideline for many studios, as it is more in line with midday Western European daylight. (Image source: HDTVtest / Youtube)
Films and also many games are aligned using the D65 color temperature and therefore harmonize better with a setting that also corresponds to this. For example, on LG TVs this is “Warm 50”, on Samsung screens it is “Warm2”.
As a result, white areas can also appear too yellow or orange, for example in documentaries and sports broadcasts. If the colors are too yellow or reddish for you, you can also choose a lower level.
But enough about the TV, now it’s time to calibrate on the console!
How to properly adjust HDR settings on PS4, PS4 Pro and PS5
- HDR settings on PS5: System Settings > Display and Video > Video Output > Color > Adjust HDR
- HDR settings on PS4 (Pro): Settings > Sound and screen > Video output settings > Adjust HDR
In the following three tests, you don’t follow Sony’s instructions because they limit the HDR brightness range too much. Instead, you do the following:
Test 1 – Maximum Full Frame Luminance
As the name suggests, the maximum brightness for the entire image is determined in the first test screen. Here you don’t choose the last level, as described, in which the displayed sun is still visible, but the one in which it has completely disappeared. Otherwise, the maximum brightness is too low, causing you to miss out on 100 nits or more.
For example, on a 1,000 nits TV with HGiG, you would need to press up from the darkest setting 15 times to get just under 1,000 nits.
Test 2 – Maximum Tone Map Luminance
In the second menu, the maximum value for the tone mapping of the PS5 is set. There you can follow the first setting exactly, i.e. 15 clicks up with the control pad on a TV with 1,000. Then the PS5 also calls up the maximum possible brightness of your TV.
Test 3 – Minimum Tone Map Luminance
Finally, you set the lowest black level. If you press all the way down with the control pad, you get the deepest black, so if you gamble in a dark room, that’s the perfect value. On the other hand, if your living room is a little brighter, you go up two or three steps.
And you’re done! Your HDR is set correctly and gets a better HDR experience, especially from OLED televisions, than with the official specifications.
Caution! Not every game accepts HDR calibration
A number of titles, including the remake of the classic Resident Evil 4, ignore the HDR settings of the PlayStation consoles and use their own tone mapping. You often have to determine this using reference images from the game.
Resident Evil 4 has its own brightness controls that you need to follow.
The standard values are well chosen in most games for a wide range of televisions, but if you want brighter highlights, for example light reflections, then you have to readjust.
Since separate tests in games were mostly created by the developers themselves, you can assume that they reflect the intentions of the creators and that you will get the best result using the instructions provided.
Why is Sony actually making it so difficult for us with the settings?
Since Sony’s HDR test is more aimed at an environment that is sometimes really brightly lit, it works in a very rustic way. Not every person ends up sitting in a darkened room, even though it’s the best way to enjoy HDR. If you meet these requirements, you will achieve the best possible result with our instructions.
Have you always set HDR on the PS4 or PS5 to your liking or to Sony’s specifications?