A comparison of the way the Apple TV 4K handles upscaling of 1080P SDR content to 4K HDR against the Sony X1E processing chipset. Hopefully this will be adjusted in future software patches. More notes in description and comments.
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1. Video capture was done on a Sony A6500 camera @4K 25FPS and SEL24F18Z lens, at constant aperture, shutter, ISO 800 and manual white balance at 7200K. The A6500 is an 8-bit camera so naturally there will be some difficulty in capturing the full dynamic range produced by the OLED. To compensate, I shot in S-Log2 (Picture Profile 7) overexposed by 1 stop, with exposure adjusted in Final Cut Pro X. While the final footage is not completely accurate, it does illustrate how differently the Apple TV 4K and the Sony A1E handle highlights.
2. In all samples, the Sony A1E was in a shaded room, set in Cinema HOME mode with mostly default settings – except the Brightness setting which was changed from the default MAX to 40. Most notably, in all samples ‘X-tended dynamic Range’ was set to HIGH. The X-tended dynamic Range setting adjusts peak luminance and black level, and performs Sony’s own tone mapping of SDR content to HDR. Since it was on at all times, it would probably be more accurate to say that the Apple TV’s SDR tone mapping looks bad, when COMBINED with Sony’s own SDR tone mapping. You can lower or turn off X-tended Dynamic Range, but this dims the image for all content including HDR. X-tended Dynamic Range Pro is enabled by default even on Sony’s more accurate ‘Cinema PRO’ mode. I believe the HIGH setting is the only setting which uses the peak brightness of the display, which is already less bright than the 1000nits or 4000 nits HDR content is mastered for. Since the Sony has no idea whether or not the Apple TV is feeding it ‘real’ HDR or ‘fake’ HDR, currently the only way to get around the Apple TV’s SDR conversion is to manually turn off HDR for SDR content. I think a better solution would be:
A) Have an option where the Apple TV can switch resolution / HDR modes based on content.
B) Or if you want to avoid resolution switching, make the default SDR to HDR tonemap less aggressive.
Comparison Stills: https://imgur.com/a/p6JsM
The Verge’s 4K Apple TV Review:
HDTV Test Sony A1E Review:
Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 – IV. In the Hall Of The Mountain King performed by Czech National Symphony Orchestra
‘Yup’, ‘Cotton Damn’, and ‘Kissing Faded’ by Bokeh
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