Gamma Control 5

Today is the release date for the fifth major version of Gamma Control. This version’s major feature is a new algorithm for tweaking the gamma curve relative to the default color profile of the screen. It’s so good that it’s now the default. More on that below.

Other added goodies include a hotkey to make the panel appear anywhere, sliders that can be manipulated by scrolling gestures, and you can now save gamma settings for multiple screens in a single file.

Gamma Control 5 will be priced at $18.99 USD, but until March 28 you can get it for $14.99. If you own an older version of Gamma Control, you’ll need to purchase a new license1 to use version 5. Available on the Store or the Mac App Store.

How the Relative-to-Profile Curve Adjustment Works

Typically, gamma correction took the form of a power function where the exponent is called gamma. This created curves that looked like this:

This worked well in the days of cathode-ray tubes since the amount of light emitted by a pixel also followed a power curve depending on the input voltage applied on the electron gun. Depending on the gamma value, the curve would stretch more or less from a straight line.

But we’re all using liquid crystal displays now, and for many LCDs out there using a power function doesn’t work well. Here is how an hypothetical gamma correction curve could be like for some LCD screen:

Older versions of Gamma Control would simply wipe out this curve and replace it with a pure power-law curve as shown in the first graph. Unfortunately, there was no way to properly calibrate a screen that needs a curve like the second graph that way.

So in Gamma Control 5 there is now a “Relative to profile” mode — which is the default because it’s so nice — where instead of replacing the profile curve with one of its own, Gamma Control will calculate its curve and pass it through the profile’s curve before applying it to the screen.

The result is that if you drew the resulting curve, you’d find out that lowering the white point is equivalent to stretching the profile curve horizontally:

And if you were to make the grays darker, it’d be equivalent to compressing the curve in the higher levels and dilating it in the lower ones following a power curve:

To achieve this, Gamma Control reads the profile curve at launch, collecting samples for each level. It can then interpolate a new curve from those samples to reflect where you set your sliders. But unlike with the previous versions, if you leave all the sliders at their default position, the gamma curve will not be affected at all.

  1. There is no price specifically for an upgrade. Most buyers purchased from the Mac App Store where it is not possible to offer a paid upgrade. Instead, I lower the price for everyone during the first two weeks. This is also true for the Store↩︎

  • © 2003–2019 Michel Fortin.