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What Is “Black Crush” on a Display?

A scene that might cause "black crush" displayed on a TV.
Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock

Have you ever heard the term “black crush” while taking a look at TV or monitor reviews? The issue is getting more attention now that display manufacturers are attempting to improve black reproduction, particularly on LED-lit LCD models. So what are “crushed blacks,” and do you could worry about them?

Black Crush Means a Lack of Shadow Detail

Black crush refers back to the lack of fidelity in especially dark areas of a picture. The term might apply in both the photography and video spheres but is mostly used to explain the lack of shadow detail in moving images like movies and games.

You may not immediately notice black crush until you see the “correct” image displayed alongside it (for instance, on a distinct display that’s been correctly calibrated). You’ll be able to see a simulated example within the image below, where the best side has lost detail within the bricks under the shadow. In other words, this image has “crushed blacks.”

black crush

The issue is unlikely to make content unwatchable, nevertheless it does detract from the general presentation. In movies, you would possibly miss subtle details around the sting of the frame, while the difficulty could make it way too difficult to see what’s happening in some games (particularly in brightly lit rooms).

There are all types of reasons that black crush can happen, and never all of them are all the way down to the display. If the shadow detail wasn’t captured in the primary place since the camera wasn’t set as much as achieve this, blacks will appear crushed. Some directors and photographers use this method to intentionally create negative space.

Your TV or Monitor Makes a Difference

All too often the issue lies with the display or source device (like a games console). Many games require the player to calibrate gamma and white point when the software is first launched, and setting this up incorrectly (or getting it wrong at a system level) might cause a lack of shadow detail. Sometimes games implement HDR poorly, also causing black crush.

Most consumer displays are never calibrated once they leave the factory, and without proper calibration by an expert, they are going to always produce a picture that deviates from the source. For this reason content creators and photographers are strongly encouraged to make use of a calibrated display when editing their work.

lg g1 oled

Sometimes, the TV really is the issue. OLED is a self-emissive display technology, which implies that the pixels might be turned off to display “true” black. Unfortunately, OLED also has difficulty popping out of black, which on some models can result in a lack of shadow detail because the TV struggles to breed the subtle tones that exist between the “on” and “off” states at a pixel level.

Many LED-lit LCD TVs now use dimming algorithms to show off or reduce the sunshine behind dark or black scenes. This helps the TV produce a much deeper black level, nevertheless it nearly always comes on the expense of shadow detail. Generally speaking, the more dimming zones a display has, the less severe the difficulty can be.

Find out how to Test Your Own Display for Black Crush

A straightforward approach to test for black crush is to make use of a starfield test. On a display that exhibits black crush, a lot of the celebrities won’t be visible. On an OLED, the overwhelming majority of stars needs to be visible, since a bright white pixel can sit alongside a pure black one with none dimming algorithm interfering with the image.

In the event you’re just realizing what you’ve been missing out on, make sure that that you simply read our guide to purchasing a TV (or a TV for gaming) before you part together with your cash.

RELATED: What Does “FS” Mean, and How Do You Use It?

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