2mg wrote: ↑
31 Mar 2020, 15:49
It feels like I'm trying to color the image from "inside", rather than from "outside", and with outside (the LCD) already being a non-calibrated point itself.
If it helps, on some LCDs the inside/outside has the same quality considerations.
Easiest fix: Put your LCD in its uncalibrated-widest-gamut and let an automated colorimeter calibration generate a custom ICC file just for your display.
Note: What you could do is put your LCD in its full-gamut uncalibrated sate (RGB gains 100, contrast/brightness/gamma at panel native, color temp at backlight native, etc) and transfer the calibration responsibility completely over to ICC. Except for backlight-only adjustments (like backlight brightness), you can still continue to adjust that.
In this situation, the banding differences of an inside calibration vs outside calibration can become identical, because it's simply remapping an uncalibrated panel only once to its final gamut. You just don't want to remap the colors twice (display-side and computer-side). In some situations like this one, that you are encountering, you want to either adjust only display-side, or only computer-side -- then the quality considerations can actually become identical if the color depth is preserved.
Mathematically, picture adjustments are essentially a color-by-numbers game (inside the panel firmware or in computer software). For the 8-bit-per-channel color space or 10-bit-per-channel color space (8-bit per channel means 256 shades each for Red, for Green, and for Blue, for a grand total of 256x256x256 = 16,777,216 colors = 24-bit color).
The ICC method is ultimate because you can completely remap the colors in ways far beyond what Control Panel / NVIDIA Control Panel / AMD Catalyst Control Center can do. For the cheapest colorimeter, you may want to buy an open-source ColorHug and its free software, and it will generate a custom ICC file just for your specific screen.
For most, one don't necessarily need to know how it works. You plug in the colorimeter, run the colorimeter software, click a button for the apporopriate automatic color calibration in an easy wizard, and then you've got a resulting ICC file for your preference. Picture looks much better. If too dark or too high / low gamma, you reconfigure your preferences for the automatic preferences and re-run the calibration, to get your preferred picture, whether it be 120-nit print ready, or "brightest good gamma 2.2 color calibration", etc.
Bear in mind -- Some colorimeters software may calibrate the display hardware (via DDC commands), while other settings may calibrate by generating an ICC file (for Windows). If your software contains both options, then both options can be tried to see which produces better results.
A colorimeter is typically a one-time purchase and then works with all your displays, laptops, etc, including future upgrades.
There's the option of just purchasing a new display. But many 10-year-old 1080p LCDs still have stellar color and image quality, often just needs to be calibrated. A few high quality displays will easily last 20 to 30 years because they are very good panels, if you're lucky to have a very good panel.
Each of the 16,777,216 colors can individually be remapped to any other of the 16,777,216 colors of an 8-bit color depth (2^8 x 2^8 x 2^8) = (256 x 256 x 256) = 16,777,216. Internal display panel adjustments already do this for an 8-bit panel, Contrast/Brightness/Gamma are simply mathematical/algebraic remapping of color-by-numbers, so you're just transferring the responsibility to the computer side. And the software that comes with the colorimeter, does this job automatically.
You may get degradation if you have a 10-bit panel but your video cable connection is limited to 8-bit (see NVIDIA Control Panel to find out your color depth on the cable). But you should be OK with an 8-bit panel and an 8-bit on video cable. Or 10-bit panel or 10-bit on video cable. Then in that case, it can be made to not matter (banding-wise) for panel-side calibration or computer-side calibration. You just don't want to remap the colors multiple times or go through conversion steps (like 10bit->8bit->10bit) to generate rounding errors = amplify banding artifacts.