HDR Effect on LG TVs: Should You Use It?

High Dynamic Range (HDR) has become a staple in modern televisions, offering unparalleled contrast and a richer color palette. Among the top-of-the-line TVs in LG’s lineup, the HDR Effect setting stands out as a feature designed to elevate your viewing experience. But the question that often arises is, should you actually use it?

This setting has piqued the curiosity of many, from casual viewers to tech aficionados. Whether you’re watching the latest blockbuster or a live sports event, the HDR Effect promises to enhance visual elements, making your screen come alive. But like any feature, it comes with its own set of considerations. Stick around as we delve into the ins and outs of LG’s HDR Effect setting—what it is, who it’s for, and when to use it for optimal results.

What is the HDR Effect Setting?

The HDR Effect setting is a unique feature found in many of LG’s high-end televisions. At its core, it aims to simulate the High Dynamic Range (HDR) experience by manipulating various picture settings like brightness, contrast, and color saturation. The objective is to make the image on your screen more vivid and lifelike, even if the content you’re watching isn’t natively in HDR.

How It Differs from True HDR

While the HDR Effect setting does a commendable job in enhancing your viewing experience, it’s essential to understand that it’s not the same as true HDR. Authentic HDR content comes with metadata that instructs the TV on how to display the image with precise levels of brightness, contrast, and color. The HDR Effect setting, on the other hand, lacks this metadata. As a result, the TV has to make educated guesses on how to adjust the picture settings. While it often succeeds in making the image more vibrant and dynamic, it may not always capture the nuanced details that true HDR offers.

Supported LG TV Models

The HDR Effect setting is not a universal feature across all LG TVs but is predominantly found in their top-tier models. This includes a range of OLED TVs, known for their exceptional contrast ratios and deep blacks, as well as premium LED models equipped with advanced features like local dimming and wide color gamuts. If you’re considering an LG TV and this feature is a selling point for you, it’s advisable to check the specifications to ensure that the HDR Effect setting is included.

In summary, the HDR Effect setting serves as a valuable tool for those looking to get more out of their LG TV. However, understanding its limitations and optimal use-cases can make a significant difference in how you appreciate your content. Stay tuned as we explore the benefits, ideal scenarios, and practical tips for using this intriguing feature.

Benefits of Using HDR Effect

The HDR Effect setting on LG TVs isn’t just a marketing gimmick; it has tangible benefits that can enhance your viewing experience in several ways. Let’s break down some of the key advantages.

Improved Contrast and Color Range

One of the most immediate benefits you’ll notice is the improvement in contrast and color range. The HDR Effect works to balance the darker and brighter areas of the screen, giving you a more dynamic image. This is particularly beneficial when you’re watching content with varying lighting conditions, such as a movie with both daylight and night scenes. The colors also appear more vibrant, making the visuals pop off the screen.

Upscaling Non-HDR Content to Near-HDR Quality

Not all content is created equal, and you’ll inevitably come across videos that aren’t in HDR. This is where the HDR Effect shines. It takes standard dynamic range (SDR) content and upscales it to near-HDR quality. While it won’t match the finesse of true HDR, the upscaling is often good enough to make a noticeable difference. This feature is especially useful for older movies and TV shows that haven’t been remastered in HDR.

Fine-Tuning the HDR Experience

What sets the HDR Effect apart is its customizability. LG provides three levels—Low, Medium, and High—that allow you to adjust the intensity of the HDR simulation. Whether you prefer a more subtle enhancement or a dramatic transformation, you have the control to fine-tune the experience to your liking. This is a boon for those who like to calibrate their TVs for different types of content, be it sports, movies, or video games.

In essence, the HDR Effect setting offers a versatile toolset for enhancing your visual experience. It’s not just about making things look pretty; it’s about elevating the content to a level that’s more engaging and immersive. Up next, we’ll discuss who this feature is ideally suited for and how to get the most out of it.

Who Is It For?

The HDR Effect setting is a versatile feature, but its utility can vary depending on what you primarily use your TV for. Let’s explore who stands to benefit the most from this setting.

Casual Viewers vs. Cinephiles

For casual viewers who aren’t too concerned with having the most accurate color reproduction but want a more vibrant and dynamic picture, the HDR Effect can be a quick and easy way to enhance the viewing experience. On the flip side, cinephiles who value image fidelity might find the HDR Effect useful for upscaling older films that haven’t been remastered in HDR, although they may prefer to stick to true HDR content when available.


Gamers can also benefit from the HDR Effect, especially when playing titles that don’t natively support HDR. The enhanced contrast can make game environments more immersive, and the vibrant colors can make in-game elements more easily distinguishable. However, it’s worth noting that some gamers prefer to turn off any additional picture processing to reduce input lag. Your mileage may vary, so it’s worth experimenting to see if the HDR Effect enhances or detracts from your gaming experience.

Sports Enthusiasts

When it comes to watching sports, the HDR Effect can be a game-changer—no pun intended. The enhanced contrast and color vibrancy can make the action on the field or court pop, creating a more engaging viewing experience. Whether it’s the green of a soccer field or the colors of team jerseys, the HDR Effect can make everything look more vivid. However, be cautious with the intensity level, as too high a setting might make the picture look unnatural.

In a nutshell, the HDR Effect setting has something to offer for a wide range of viewers, but its effectiveness can depend on your specific needs and preferences. Up next, we’ll look at how to activate this feature and adjust its settings to get the visual experience you desire.

How to Turn On HDR Effect

So you’re ready to give the HDR Effect a try. Activating it is a straightforward process, but there are some variations depending on the version of WebOS—LG’s operating system—that your TV is running. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.

Accessing Picture Settings

  1. Grab your LG TV remote control and press the Settings button. This will open the settings menu on the screen.
  2. Navigate to the All Settings option at the bottom and select it.
  3. Go to the Picture tab, which is usually the first option in the list.

Selecting HDR Effect

  1. Within the Picture tab, you’ll find an option called Picture Mode. Select it.
  2. Scroll through the list of available modes until you find HDR Effect.

Adjusting HDR Effect Level

Now, this is where things might differ slightly based on your TV’s version of WebOS.

  • For TVs with the option: Once you’ve selected HDR Effect, you’ll see an additional setting called HDR Effect Level. Here, you can choose between Low, Medium, and High to adjust the intensity of the HDR simulation.
  • For TVs without the option: If you don’t see the HDR Effect Level, your version of WebOS might not support this feature. In this case, the HDR Effect will be applied at a default intensity that can’t be adjusted.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully activated the HDR Effect on your LG TV. Feel free to play around with the settings to find what suits your viewing preferences best.

Difference in Picture Settings: HDR Effect vs. Standard

Understanding the differences in picture settings between the HDR Effect and Standard modes can help you make an informed decision on which to use for different types of content. Below is a table that compares key settings like Brightness, Backlight, Gamma, and more.

SettingHDR EffectStandard
Backlight/OLED Light10080
Colour TemperatureC50C20

Key Takeaways

  • Backlight/OLED Light: The HDR Effect mode pushes the backlight to its maximum to make the picture brighter, whereas the Standard mode has it at a more moderate level. This is crucial for enhancing contrast and making colors pop in HDR Effect mode.
  • Contrast: Both modes have high contrast settings, but HDR Effect maxes it out to make the most of the dynamic range.
  • Brightness: Interestingly, both modes keep the brightness at the same level. This is because brightness in this context doesn’t affect the overall luminance but rather the black levels.
  • Sharpness: The HDR Effect has slightly lower sharpness compared to the Standard mode. This could be to avoid making the upscaled content look too artificial.
  • Colour Temperature: The HDR Effect uses a cooler color temperature (C50) compared to the warmer tone in Standard mode (C20). This can make whites appear crisper but may not be as accurate as the warmer setting in Standard mode.

Upscaling Non-HDR Content

One of the standout features of the HDR Effect setting is its ability to upscale Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content to near-HDR quality. But how does it accomplish this, and what should you be aware of when using this feature? Let’s dive in.

How HDR Effect Works to Upscale SDR to HDR

The HDR Effect takes SDR content and applies a series of adjustments to the picture settings, such as brightness, contrast, and color saturation. The goal is to mimic the visual characteristics of HDR, making the image appear more dynamic and vibrant. Essentially, it’s taking what was once a “flat” image and adding depth and richness to it.

Limitations and Considerations

While the HDR Effect does a commendable job in upscaling, there are some limitations:

  • Lack of Metadata: Unlike true HDR content, SDR doesn’t come with metadata that instructs the TV on how to display the image. This means the TV has to “guess,” which can sometimes result in an image that looks good but not as accurate as true HDR.
  • Potential for Artificial Look: Because the TV is making adjustments without specific guidance, the image can sometimes appear too processed or artificial, especially if the HDR Effect level is set too high.

Tips for Optimal Use

To get the most out of the HDR Effect when upscaling SDR content, consider the following tips:

  • Starting with Low Setting and Adjusting: If you’re new to this feature or are sensitive to overly vibrant colors and high contrast, start with the Low setting. You can always adjust upward based on your preferences.
  • Taking Room Lighting into Account: The effectiveness of the HDR Effect can be influenced by the lighting conditions in your room. In a darker setting, a lower level might be more appropriate, while a brighter room might benefit from a higher setting.
  • Scene-by-Scene Adjustments: If you’re watching content with varying lighting conditions or different types of scenes (e.g., indoor dialogue vs. outdoor action), you might find it beneficial to adjust the HDR Effect level on a scene-by-scene basis. This can usually be done through the Quick Settings menu on your remote.

By understanding the capabilities and limitations of the HDR Effect setting for upscaling SDR content, you can make more informed choices that enhance your viewing experience.

Conclusion: To HDR Effect or Not, That Is the Question

After two years of using my LG CX OLED, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt the need to use the HDR Effect setting. The Standard setting has consistently provided a balanced and satisfying viewing experience for me, whether I’m watching movies, playing video games, or catching up on sports.

However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t give the HDR Effect a try. Television viewing is a highly subjective experience, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. The HDR Effect offers a unique set of tools to enhance your visuals, and it’s worth exploring to see if it aligns with your preferences. Whether you’re a casual viewer, a cinephile, or somewhere in between, the HDR Effect could be the missing piece that takes your viewing experience to the next level.

So go ahead, toggle that setting, and see what the HDR Effect can do for you. You might just find your new favorite way to watch TV.

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About S. Santos

👋 I'm a technology columnist and blogger with over 10 years of experience, currently serving as Blue Cine Tech's AV Editor. Specialising in gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology, my work has been featured in top technology blogs. I'm dedicated to breaking down the complexities of the latest tech trends, from explaining the intricacies of Dolby Vision to optimising your streaming experience. This blog serves as a platform for my ongoing exploration of the ever-evolving tech landscape. If you see me at industry events like CES or IFA, feel free to say hello.

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