HDR in Menus and GUI

It would be great if the main game GUI and pull down menu were also in HDR. Currently when I have HDR on, the game itself runs in HDR but the main screen and menu elements are not. They appear washed out and grayish. Some other games will switch HDR on and off automatically when going from the main menu to the game. That would be a solution as well.

I think there’s something weird going on with HDR and most HDR monitors. I see several reports similar like you that HDR looks washed out and doesn’t look good. And that you have to keep switching between SDR and HDR mode in windows to get them to a somewhat acceptable HDR quality and to avoid the washed out colours.

But I myself never experienced that. I play on a 4K HDR TV, which is probably why it has an automatic adjustment between HDR and SDR signal processing. So I can keep the Windows HDR switch on at all times. So when I don’t get HDR content when I’m browsing or looking at SDR content, at least my TV converts it properly that it doesn’t display washed out colours when it’s displaying SDR content.

So my MSFS is like the sim itself is in HDR, and the menu is like a normal SDR and not a washed out SDR.

Makes sense. I’m sure TVs automatically switch so you never see anything odd looking. On a PC the Windows desktop will look all wrong in HDR when you switch it on, and you have to switch it on and off manually. Most HDR PC games have an auto switching so you never see odd effects either. MSFS doesn’t have this.

HDR is indeed broken to the point that I disabled it in Windows entirely. In my case, the menus have crazy colors until I turn on / off HDR in the sim. Colors where washed out though. Using HDR in-game makes it impossible to screenshot with AMD cards. NVidia works but creates two files for every shot. Thus, I disabled HDR.

The menus are in HDR; for instance the brightest whites in the photos on the menu icon showing an airplane with the sun behind it is brighter than the SDR-white mouse cursor for me.

One thing I’ve noticed is that monitors and TVs seem to be a lot stricter about their calibration, and how you can adjust the picture, in HDR mode than in SDR mode. So it’s very easy for your SDR settings to be on super-bright/super-saturated/really-wrong-contrast and your HDR settings to be on calibrated-standard. In this situation you might see that things in HDR mode are less bright and less saturated than when the same things are displayed in SDR mode.

On my monitor, I keep HDR on all the time on the gaming monitor (LG 34GP83A-B, a 3440x1440 ultrawide with DisplayHDR 400 rating). I have my second monitor (Dell P3415Q, a 4K monitor) calibrated to match it, and in a room with indirect daylight and some artificial light I have the SDR brightness in Windows configured at 24.

Both monitors look good, the calibration images for gamma and contrast seem more or less decent, and I don’t particularly have any desire to manually turn off HDR for any reason.

Some test images I used to confirm that basic contrast for SDR imagery on both SDR and HDR monitors seemed to correctly mirror the sRGB standard:

  • Contrast - Lagom LCD test - contrast test showing steps in grays and each color primary. I got the most consistent result at “Gaming 1” preset on both monitors.
  • Gamma calibration - Lagom LCD test - gamma calibration (must be viewed at native pixel size, so you might have to adjust your zoom if not at 100% scaling in Windows) confirmed standard sRGB gamma configuration for SDR display on both monitors

I haven’t done a formal test of the color balance, but they match reasonably well between the two monitors, and I don’t feel like there’s a large “washed out” effect on the HDR monitor from what I’ve seen.

I have quite a few other games which support HDR, enough to know what it should look like. The MSFS menus and GUI are definitely messed up and it’s not a subtle calibration problem. Windows also cannot run SDR content with HDR enabled, you need to switch it off in settings if that’s what you’re viewing and vice versa. It’s rather clunky but that’s how it is.
While playing MSFS if I press Esc, that screen with General and Controls images on it looks ok. But all the other pull down menus etc look bad.
MSFS also lacks the white calibration screen typical of HDR games so it’s not really possible to set the brightness in it correctly.

I guess I do not experience the problem that you experience. The menus all look fine to me on on my monitor.

Note that “SDR content” includes things like “your web browser” and other applications. Windows is perfectly capable of displaying them on your HDR screen in HDR mode.

I should say – it’s perfectly capable of this on my HDR screen. It’s possible there’s simply a problem with how Windows supports your screen. Good luck!

The first thing I notice that looks wrong in the game is the Xbox logo. It’s the wrong green color.

I’m not sure how other monitors work. Mine is an LG. It has an HDR mode which switches on when it detects an HDR signal. In other games that happens automatically either when launching the game or when the game runs from its menu, one game has an SDR menu and then goes into HDR mode for the game. That experience is much more seamless than MSFS
Forza 7 is another Microsoft game which requires switching Windows manually like this game.

The menus look fine to me when HDR is on. This is on an Asus PG27UQ VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certified monitor.
I can’t recall if the menus are HDR though since I don’t often play the game with HDR turned on, I’ll take a look the next time I play the game.

There are 2 reasons SDR content looks washed out when HDR is on.

1: many LCD monitors that can take an HDR signal can’t actually display HDR. They have no independent dimming zones and just turn the whole backlight up to 100% when in HDR mode and are limited by their native contrast ratio so blacks look more like dark/medium gray. They may still look a bit better than SDR for some content but you’re not getting a true HDR experience.

2: Windows has a SDR brightness control that maps the max brightness of SDR content when in HDR mode which by default I’ve found is set to high. Once I turn that setting down so that the brightness of SDR content in HDR mode matches the fairly low brightness I use in SDR mode I have a really hard time telling if HDR is turned on for SDR content.

A lot of HDR supporting games I have also require that you enable HDR in Windows before launching the game. Which is both tedious having to turn it off and on in Windows but you also have the problem that having it on in Windows but off in the game can make everything look terrible, or forgetting to turn it on in Windows then not being able to turn it on in game and having to close the game, change settings then launch again.

Games I have that do it automatically. Battlefield 1 & 5, Battlefront 2, Star Wars Squadrons (basically frostbite engine games), and Destiny 2

Games that I have to turn HDR on before running the game, MSFS 2020, Red Dead Redemption 2, War Thunder, Cyberpunk 2077 (I think), Doom Eternal

As I said in my previous post and what @Vibstronium said, it seems that different manufacturers treat “HDR” mode differently on their displays, my 4K TV has some built-in HDR function that can displays both HDR and SDR content into the same calibration. So I can keep Windows HDR on at all times, and no matter the content whether it is HDR or SDR, my TV calibrates them appropriately and always displays them properly at all times. Same with @Vibstronium HDR monitor.

So I think with these issues, they’re not “always” problematic. It very highly dependent on what monitor you’re looking at. sometimes even two HDR capable monitor that can even be coming from the same manufacturer brand may perform very differently when it comes to displaying both HDR and SDR content at the same time.

It’s a tricky thing this… makes it really difficult to know which HDR monitor to get if you’re about to buy one.

Yeah that seems clear enough. Many displays must be capable of showing HDR and SDR simultaneously. That’s clearly the best way for this sort of thing to work. What it does maybe indicate is that for whatever reason MSFS is showing SDR and HDR elements together. If it’s the game running HDR and the pull down menu in SDR or the splash screens, whatever. If everything on the screen was HDR this wouldn’t be noticeable.

This is my HDR recording of one of my flights. It generally looks the same on my monitor. You should be able to watch it in HDR mode if you have a supported web browser and you turned on the Windows HDR mode. I’ve set it to start when I open the GUI menu like the ATC window.

Well I’m watching that on an HDR capable iPad Pro and it looks normal. So does all the web browsing and photos on it. Clearly this is how HDR should work. I can stream an HDR movie on this and it looks slightly better than SDR like it should. I get it that this must be an issue with my monitor although I also read that how it’s supposed to behave.
When I do run gameplay in MSFS in 4K HDR on the PC though I can manage ultra settings and it all just looks unspeakably gorgeous! Just the menus look funny.