Gamma is a complicated topic that was created to compensate for CRT Tvs that had a weird logarithmic curve when displaying color. Basically, CRT was displaying the source material too dark. So they compensated for this technical problem by adding a 2.2 gamma hack to the source material. These days, LCD tv do not have that problem due to compensation with LUTs, but due to legacy workflow from the old days, we still apply a 2.2 (or similar) gamma to the color output for our display. If we are not displaying the texture on screen as color information directly, a linear color space should be applied to all data texture maps, which should also include Normals. However, it is a complicated topic and can be very confusing to decide what is 1.0 and what is 2.2 gamma. So I think Autodesk just kept it simple by making everything 2.2 gamma when you bake out of Max. In a way, this makes sense if you work in Photoshop, it treats everything with a 2.2 gamma, unless you use .EXR. This is technically not correct way to work, unless you also account for the file format. .jpg and .png usually carries a 2.2 gamma (not a hard definition), but .exr carries a 1.0 gamma (this is inherent in EXR design). That is why I contacted them to add a gamma output control. Anyway, as you can see, you can get confusing texture gamma, and you will need to see which gamma curve works for you. If it was up to me, I would make everything standard to 1.0 gamma curve, but you will need to fight the entire industry(software, tv manufacturers, recording equipment, broadcast standards, etc.) to change that.
Typical gamma settings are:
1) 1.0 (linear - no gamma curve)
2) 2.2 (gamma curve)
Also, if you want to use imager, I would leave "gamma hack" on and set the Viewport to HDR instead of LDR, if you want to save out the texture beyond 8 bit range from the OctaneRender Viewport.
Last edited by tcheng00
on Wed Aug 05, 2020 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.