Much of our information about early spatial vision comes from detection experiments involving low-contrast stimuli, which are not, perhaps, particularly "natural" stimuli. Contrast discrimination experiments provide one way to explore the visual system's response to stimuli of higher contrast whilst keeping the number of unknown parameters comparatively small. We explored both detection and contrast discrimination performance with sinusoidal and "pulse-train" (or line) gratings. Both types of grating had a fundamental spatial frequency of 2.09-c/deg but the pulse-train, ideally, contains, in addition to its fundamental component, all the harmonics of the fundamental. Although the 2.09-c/deg pulse-train produced on our display was measured using a high-performance digital camera (Photometrics) and shown to contain at least 8 harmonics at equal contrast, it was no more detectable than its most detectable component; no benefit from having additional information at the harmonics was measurable. The addition of broadband 1-D "pink" noise made it about a factor of four more detectable than any of its components. However, in contrast-discrimination experiments, with an in-phase pedestal or masking grating of the same form and phase as the signal and 15% contrast, the noise did not improve the discrimination performance of the pulse train relative to that of its sinusoidal components. We discuss the implications of these observations for models of early vision in particular the implications for possible sources of internal noise.