Dynamic range is an often used measures of the information content that can be presented by a Display System. However, there are many definitions of dynamic range, and most such definitions do not take into account real world conditions that affect the actual amount of information which can be conveyed by a gray scale pixel. For example, Poynton [E1] refers to the contrast ratio of a gray scale display device as the ratio of display intensity between the brightest white and the darkest black of the particular display device in question. However, this definition of dynamic range applies to ideal viewing conditions. Real world conditions such as veiling glare, noise, spatial frequency content of the image, power supply saturation, and ambient lighting in a cathode ray tube (CRT) based viewing situation can degrade the measured dynamic range of the system significantly [E2, E3]. Because of all of these variables dynamic range is an ill-defined concept for a Display System.

Note: Veiling Glare is the phenomenon wherein internal light reflections inside the CRT creates a "background lighting" thus reducing the contrast range of the CRT device.

The methods used to determine the degree to which the Display Function of a Display System approximates the Grayscale Standard Display Function can also be used to define two measures which might better characterize the potential capabilities of a Display System to convey information content. Two measures, the theoretically achievable JNDs and the realized JNDs, are useful for comparing Display Systems [E4].

The number of theoretically achievable JNDs is simply the number of JNDs predicted by the visual model given the Luminance Range of the Display System used. The number of theoretically achievable JNDs of a Display System may be found from Table B-1 of Annex B by counting the number of JNDs in the table which fall between the measured minimum and maximum Luminance of the Display System.

This number of JNDs may not actually be achievable due to resolution limitations of other portions of the Display System, in particular, the quantization resolution given by the finite number of bits per pixel driving the Display System. For example, Table B-1 of Annex B may show that a particular Display System is capable of delivering 352 JNDs. However, if only 8 bits per pixel are presented to the Display System, the number of JNDs achievable cannot exceed 2 8 = 256 JNDs because of the quantizing effect. In actual fact, the number of JNDs realized in a Display System will always be smaller than or equal to the lower of the theoretically achievable JNDs and the quantization limit. This is because some of the quantized values input to the display may not line up with the input value required to achieve the next JND.

The more useful number of realized JNDs, describes how many JNDs are actually achieved given the specifics of the Display System (i.e. the number of gray levels of contrast resolution and the distribution of Luminance values). This definition gives a measure of the information which can actually be conveyed by the system to a human observer, in essence, an informational dynamic range. This number is calculated beginning at the minimum Luminance of the Display System, and then stepping one JND in Luminance from the current Luminance value, and choosing the smallest increment in DDL value that achieves a step at least that large. Repeating this through all the available DDLs will produce a sequence of steps, all at least 1 JND apart, and the length of this sequence of steps is then the number of realizable JNDs of the Display System.

The methods of PS 3.14 cannot precisely duplicate all of the real world sources of degradation in a Display System. However, this uniform method of determining the realizable number of JNDs should give a measure of the actual performance of a particular Display System which would be experienced by a human observer when using the Display System in a real world situation such as the viewing of radiological images in medicine.


[E1] Poynton, C. "Frequently Asked Questions about Gamma",Internet

[E2] Roehrig, H., Blume, H., Ji, T. and Browne, M.; "Performance Tests and Quality Control of Cathode Ray Tube Displays"; J. Digital Imaging, Vol. 3, No. 3, August 1990; pp. 134-145.

[E3] Gray, J.; "Use of the SMPTE Test Pattern in Picture Archiving and Communication Systems"; J. Digital Imaging, Vol. 5, No. 1, February 1992; pp. 54-58.

[E4] Hemminger, B., Muller, K., "Performance Metric for evaluating conformance of medical image displays with the ACR/NEMA display function standard", SPIE Medical Imaging 1997, editor Yongmin Kim, vol 3031-25, 1997.