HDR is the abbreviation of High Dynamic Range. Dynamic Range refers to the number of gray levels between the brightest point and the darkest point in an image. Compared to SDR (Standard Dynamic Range), HDR allows you to see more of the details and colors in scenes. Nowadays, you may get HDR contents from mobile, camcorder, streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, or 4K UHD Blu-ray DVD. Once you've got your HDR content cued up, whether it be HDR video or and HDR game, you'll have to make sure your setup is capable of displaying that HDR content. If not, you may probably found the HDR video will lose its original color range and degrade color brightness & saturation. The whole video image would become grey. That's what we usually call washed-out color when we view the 4K HDR videos on an HDR unsupported display.
Actually, though HDR is being adopted by the general market with remarkable ease and speed, there are innumerable SDR TVs, monitors, projectors, desktop and phones that are still being in use. What if you want to play 4K HDR video on these SDR devices? Upgrading your hardware is one way to eliminate the washed-out color issue but this way is quite expensive. If you don't plan to do this, transcoding 4K videos from HDR to SDR could be the best choice. In this post, we will share you with the top 3 ways to convert 4K (HEVC) HDR to SDR video without damaging quality.
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Method 1: Convert 4K HDR to 1080p/4K SDR with EaseFab Video Converter
EaseFab Video Converter is an easy-to-use, fast yet solid program for video/audio encoding and decoding. It's available for Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, etc. And it has a Mac version compatible with macOS Big Sur and lower. Its features include but are not limited to:
◉ Convert any 4K HDR videos to SDR in 4K/1080p, HEVC to H.264 without visually quality loss on brightness, washed-out color, contrast and more.
◉ Free adjust resolution 4K to 1080p/720p, 60FPS to 30FPS, aspect ratio 18:9/1:1 to 16:9 or vice versa...
◉ Finish conversion at fast speed, owing to the support for the world's most advanced Intel QSV, Nvidia CUDA/NVENC, and AMD 3DNow! Tech.
◉ Edit videos by trimming, merging, cropping, adding subtitle, etc.
How to decode video from HDR to SDR with EaseFab
In the following guide we take EaseFab Video Converter Windows version as an example. Mac version shares the same steps.
Step 1. Run the program and click the Add Video button to load your 4K HDR video files. Batch conversion is supported.
Step 2. Click Profile bar and move mouse cursor to Common Video category and select MP4 (codec: h.264+ aac) as the output format. You can choose HEVC MP4 as output format if your destination device supports HEVC playback.
Tips: If you wanna retain 4K resolution, you can choose MP4-4K from HD/4K Video category. To get lower resolution for better compatibility with your display, tap Settings icon on the main interface and tweak 4K to 2K, 4K to 1080p/720p at your willing.
Step 3. When you have finished everything, simply click "Convert" button to perform HDR to SDR conversion in no time.
Method 2: Free Decode 4K HDR to SDR with Handbrake
HandBrake is an open source video transcoder available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It allows you to change 4K HDR video to SDR video with MP4 or MKV output format.
Step 1: Import your 4K HDR video via "File" under "Source Selection" or directly via drag-and-drop. Then, just wait for it to scan the title. It normally takes a few seconds. Once done, the detailed video info will show up in "Source" section.
Step 2: Choose the output profile from the right-hand panel. Generally, Handbrake offers you with the default profile - Fast 1080p30 under General column. Of course, you're also allowed to choose the specific device profile under Device column, including Roku, Xbox, Playstation, Fire TV, iPhone, Android, Chromecast, etc. Select "Production Standard" under Production or the general profile under Legacy column if you want to convert 4K HDR to 4K SDR without resolution degradation.
Step 3: Opt for format MP4 or MKV, confirm desired resolution, video codec (H264, HEVC, MPEG-4 or MPEG-2) and quality.
Step 4: Click "Browse" button to choose the destination folder for saving the resulting file. Afterwards, tap "Start Encode" button to begin converting HDR to SDR.
Method 3: Transcode 4K HDR to SDR Free with FFmpeg
FFmpeg is a very powerful command line tool that can transcode video and audio files. You can use it to convert HDR to SDR on Windows, Mac and also Linux machines. Now, let's show you how to carry out this work on Windows.
Step 1. Go to http://ffmpeg.org/download.html and download FFMPEG zip file. Then, create a folder named FFmpegTool in C drive. Unzip the file you just downloaded and move all files into FFmpegTool folder.
Step 2.Paste the following code to a new created batch file.
F:\Torrents2\ffmpeg\bin\ffmpeg.exe -i F:\Torrents2\ffmpeg\bin\video-input.mp4 -vf zscale=t=linear:npl=100,format=gbrpf32le,zscale=p=bt709,tonemap=tonemap=hable:desat=0,zscale=t=bt709:m=bt709:r=tv,format=yuv420p -c:v libx264 -crf 25 -r:v 30 -c:a copy -preset ultrafast -tune fastdecode -max_muxing_queue_size 1024 F:\Torrents2\ffmpeg\bin\video-output.mp4
Save it as a batch file by adding .bat at the end of the file name and put it in the 'bin' folder. Then, add your HDR video into F:\Torrents2\ffmpeg\bin\ and rename it as "video-input.mp4".
Step 3.Press Windows button+R to open the "Run" box. Type "cmd" and tap "OK" to open a regular Command Prompt. Finally, type convert.bat file to start the conversion from 4K HEVC 10bit HDR video to SDR video named "video-output.mp4".
When the conversion is finished, you can put your resulting SDR video on any platform and device for playback, no washed-out color issue.
More Info About HDR to SDR Conversion:
1. Currently, many online video streaming services also adopt 4K HDR HEVC 10-bit video. Considering different users posses different devices, some compatible with HDR video, others not, video content providers have to support multiple video formats to accommodate video display devices with different standards. That's why they need real-time HDR to SDR conversion. Or convert HDR 4K video to SDR video on the fly.
2. Some users on reddit forum point out that you can easily convert HDR 4K video to SDR without any converter. Just upload your HDR video to YouTube and download the SDR file with youtube-dl after processing. I don't try this method on my own, but you can give it a shot if needed.
3. To convert HDR10+ video to SDR on Samsung galaxy phone, you can directly proceed it on your phone. Head to and open Gallery, choose your HDR10+ video and tap Edit. Tap the current resolution on the upper left-hand corner of the popping-up interface, and choose your desired resolution from the list: 80% (864x1852), 60% (648x1388). Hit Save and Gallery will save a SDR copy of your input video with resolution you choose.