Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

Adjust brightness and contrast on a CRT monitor

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

So far, most of my posts on this blog have been software-related, but the experience of a computer is equally related to its hardware, especially to the physical interfaces through which we interact with our computers: the mouse and the keyboard, naturally, but also the monitor.

I personally have four monitors in my apartment: three CRTs (including my iMac) and one IPS. If you own a CRT monitor, you probably spend quite a bit of time adjusting the brightness and contrast. Because CRTs don’t produce as bright a picture as modern alternatives, you often need to re-adjust it depending on the brightness of the room. And to me, it’s never been obvious what the perfect setting is.

For those who recognize themselves, I recently found a page written by Charles Poynton that explains what the brightness and contrast settings actually mean. It turns out they mean the opposite to what I’ve understood them to mean!

In reality – if I’ve understood it correctly – “brightness” controls the darkness of blacks, whereas “contrast” controls the brightness of whites. Once you’ve set “brightness” to a level such that black truly looks like black, but the image isn’t too dark, then you can freely adjust “contrast” to control the overall brightness of the picture. In other words, “contrast” is brightness!

It is all explained very well on the page linked above. Personally, I found the tip immensely useful.

Two CRT monitors

Two of my CRT monitors. The left one is for my main PC, while the right one is for my server.