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Gamma Correction Explained

Gamma Correction Explained

Gamma correction matters if you have any interest in displaying an image accurately on a computer screen. Gamma correction controls the overall brightness of an image. Images which are not properly corrected can look either bleached out, or too dark. Trying to reproduce colors accurately also requires some knowledge of gamma. Varying the amount of gamma correction changes not only the brightness, but also the ratios of red to green to blue.
Almost every computer monitor, from whatever manufacturer, has one thing in common. They all have a intensity to voltage response curve which is roughly a 2.5 power function. Don’t be afraid, this just means that if you send your computer monitor a message that a certain pixel should have intensity equal to x, it will actually display a pixel which has intensity equal to x ^ 2.5 Because the range of voltages sent to the monitor is between 0 and 1, this means that the intensity value displayed will be less than what you wanted it to be. (0.5 ^ 2.5 = 0.177 for example) Monitors, then, are said to have a gamma of 2.5


The solution, fortunately, is a simple one. Since we know the relationship between the voltage sent to the monitor and the intensity which it produces, we can correct the signal before it gets to the monitor. The signal is adjusted so that it is essentially the complement of the curve shown above. There are other considerations as well when one speaks of a “correct” image. These include the ambient light in a room where the computer is, the brightness and contrast settings on the monitor, and finally personal taste.

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