Horizon Forbidden West - HDR Settings

Horizon Forbidden West Cover

Patch 1.18

Support for PS5 system HDR calibration settings has been added to the game. Adjust the PS5 system HDR calibration using the information. Before adjusting, make sure that you have correctly set the black level, gamma and RGB HDR range (full / limited) in your TV settings.
But the game retained the in-game HDR setting sliders. Be careful: the in-game calibration screen gives an incorrect representation of the peak brightness values. Check the actual game image.
Once you've finished adjusting your system's PS5 HDR calibration settings, set the in-game Highlights slider to "5" or higher.
The Brightness slider adjusts the exposure level of the image. Adjust to an acceptable value so that the image is not dim, but the highlights of the surfaces are not very bright. The recommended value is 0.
The Contrast slider adjusts the black level, adjust to achieve deep blacks but keep details in the shadows visible. The recommended value is 0.
Please note that the actual peak brightness level is slightly less than the level set in the PS5 system HDR settings. With your TV's tone mapping off (HGIG mode), light sources may appear slightly dim because of this.

PS5 System HDR Calibration Step, Clicks PS5 System HDR Calibration Pattern Brightness, Nits Actual Game Brightness, Nits
10 472 380
11 546 435
12 631 500
13 731 580
14 842 670
15 973 770
16 1122 900
17 1295 1025
18 1494 1180
19 1727 1350
20 1991 1530
21 2299 1750
22 2655 2030

Patch 1.17 or Below

Analysis

This game does not seem to use the PS4/PS5 HDR system calibration settings. The game settings have three options:
  • Highlights - adjusts the peak brightness (i.e. the brightness of the brightest light sources, such as the sun, fire, etc.)
  • Shadows - adjusts the black level (image contrast, detail visibility in shadows, etc.)
  • Brightness - adjusts the overall image exposure, peak brightness and UI brightness.
It will be difficult for you to set the correct peak brightness for your TV for two reasons: the settings do not show specific values ​​in nits, and also because the peak brightness is changed by two parameters at once (Highlight and Brightness). Because of this, by setting the correct peak brightness using the Highlights option, you can break this by adjusting the Brightness parameter.
The peak brightness that you set and see on the test image in HDR settings roughly corresponds to the peak brightness that you real see in the game, but there is a nuance. The peak brightness of some of the brightest light sources (sun, fire, etc.) will be higher than what you set. That is, the sun will be displayed with a brightness greater than your TV is able to show.

Horizon Forbidden West - HDR Settings Screen

The peak brightness level you see on the test image in the settings menu is the Master Monitor Luminance (peak brightness of your tv) that most light sources aim for. But the actual peak brightness level of the game will be higher (could be several thousand nits) and will be outside the peak brightness limit of your TV. But you don't have to worry about that, it's normal for this game. Don't try to adjust the game's peak brightness, you adjust the Master Monitor Luminance (peak brightness of your tv). For simplicity, hereinafter, the term "peak brightness" will mean exactly Master Monitor Luminance and all the values ​​​​of the tables are indicated for this.
Try to find data about the peak brightness of your TV on the site RTINGS.COM (value HDR peak brightness 10%). Also, before adjusting the game, make sure that you have correctly set the black level and RGB HDR range (full / limited) in your TV settings.

Quick Way to Set Up

Do it if you can turn off your TV tone mapping.

1. Leave the Brightness parameter at 0.
2. Leave Shadows parameter at 0.
3. Adjust the Highlights value using the rule: the brightness of the light from the sun in the sky should be as bright as possible, but at the same time you should clearly see the details in the sky (clouds, etc.). 
Horizon Forbidden West HDR test screen

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Also you can use the table below if you mean the brightness of your TV.

Highlights Slider, Clicks (Brightness=0) Peak Brightness, Nits
-10 430
-9 470
-8 575
-7 685
-6 790
-5 930
-4 1055
-3 1250
-2 1415
-1 1575
0 1700
1 1960
2 2120
3 2200
4 2280
5 2475
6 2540
7 2760
8 2835
9 2915
10 3160

Difficult Way to Set Up

Do it if you can turn off your TV tone mapping and you don't like the result of setting the quick way. If after adjustment you do not like the resulting image (the image as a whole looks too bright or too dim), then you need to change the Brightness parameter. Decrease or increase the value until you get an acceptable result.
But since the Brightness option also changes the peak brightness of the light sources as well as the brightness of the UI, you may need to repeat the peak brightness adjustment using the procedure in step 3. 
If you are satisfied with the overall exposure of the image, but the brightness of the sun, glare, fire, etc. seems too high for you: lower the Highlights value to get an acceptable result, but after that you may have to re-adjust the Brightness parameter.

Horizon Forbidden West Brightness Settings

The Shadows setting should not need to be adjusted in most cases if the black level and HDR RGB range settings on your TV are set correctly. But if the shadows seem too light to you, or vice versa, you see overcontrast and lose the visibility of details in the shadow, you can adjust the value.

Horizon Forbidden West Shadows Settings

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The first table of peak brightness levels is relevant only when the value of the Brightness parameter is zero. If you change the Brightness setting, the peak brightness values will be different. To understand the approximate brightness levels for different combinations of the Brightness and Highlights slider, use the other table below.

Horizon Forbidden West Brightness Table

Dynamic Tone Mapping Way

Your TV always does tone mapping and you can't turn it off. In this case, setting the peak brightness does not make sense. Any brightness levels will be transformed by your TV. It makes no sense to talk about "correct" images in this case. But you can do the following:
Set the Highlights to a very high value of several thousand nits (the tables will help you). After that, adjust the value of the Brightness parameter to get an acceptable exposure of the frame. But keep in mind that since your TV adapts all brightness levels to its liking, a great picture in one scene may not be as good in another scene.


7 Comments

  1. What would you recommend for a LG C1?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recommend trying to set it up yourself using the information in the post and your own preferences.

      Delete
  2. Thank you!
    My settings for 1000nits is highlights 7,brightness -9.Game looks awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey TZ,

    As always I really appreciate you doing these measurements, big help. I have a ZD9 with 10% peak brightness of 1600 nits, I understand everything you've written and my whole image does seem too bright when I set default for brightness so I started to adjust both Brightness and Highlights.

    The thing I don't understand is I could set Brightness to any value between -8 and 0 and then adjust Highlights from 2-9, respectively, and have them be close to my 1600 nit target but I don't know how low I should go before I'm just unnecessarily darkening the rest of the image.

    I see EvilBoris recommending -4 for Brightness with the Highlight value set to default (since hes on an OLED that kind of makes sense I guess, thats 870 nits peaks according to your table) but I don't know if I should go lower with my ZD9, or somewhere inbetween -4 and 0 even.

    Any help is appreciated, I have the feeling the answer is "The HDR here isn't very good so just set it to your preference", but just thought I'd ask given my TV is an outlier in terms of peak brightness and APL so it doesn't lose as much "juice" for highlights when you have a high APL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would start at brightness 0 and set Highlight to your peak brightness. Only after that, if you don't like the overall exposure of the frame, then adjust the brightness and highlight. In general, this is a very subjective perception. There is no correct answer. And also, if your TV always does tone mapping, then there is no point in talking about the “correctness” of the image.

      Delete
  4. “Your TV always does tone mapping and you can't turn it off.” Maybe silly question but how I can tell if my TV (Sony XG95) use that feature?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sony X90J
    Custom mode
    Default settings except highlights -8

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