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Monitors and TVs

What Is Banding in TVs

Understanding Banding

Not Perfect Gradients: Banding shows up as noticeable stripes, bands or tiny visual things in areas of the image that should be smooth color gradients. Think of a beautiful sunset sky or a subtly shaded scene that has distinct blocks of color that stand out from the other parts of the landscape.

Compression’s Fault: The root cause usually comes from video compression. When source material is compressed to save bandwidth detail in subtle gradients is lost.

Exacerbating Factors: Certain display technologies and settings can make banding more obvious, including:

Low Bit Depth: Panels that only have a limited range of colors per pixel (6 bit vs. 8 bit or 10 bit) are more prone to banding.

HDR Problems: In HDR content where the brightness range is wider compression artifacts like banding can become amplified.

Technical Reasons Why Banding Is a Thing

Limited Data: When the source video has insufficient bit depth or uses aggressive compression there’s not enough color information to render smooth transitions.

Panel’s Job: The TV panel has to translate this limited data into different shades. Shortcomings in how the panel handles this translation can lead to steps in the gradient rather than a proper and smooth blend.

What Banding Is NOT

Dead/Stuck Pixels: These are individual misbehaving pixels very different from wider bands.

Dirty Screen Effect: This is uneven backlight distribution appearing as blotches rather than bands.

Improving the Banding Situation

Source Matters: High quality streaming services with less aggressive compression or physical media like Blu Ray have less banding.

TV Settings: Look for modes that are labeled with Smooth Gradation or similar. Some TVs come with dithering algorithms, which can help smooth out banding (though some people find the added grain quite ugly).

Not Always Fixable: In cases of severe source compression or panel limitations banding can be difficult to eliminate completely.

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