I'm able to render large text with FreeType just fine:
But when I want to render small text (and the only parameter that changes is the font size), the quality is much poorer:
As you can see, all the characters are very faint, although the 'o' and the 'w' look a bit better than the others.
I've Googled around for similar topics, and many people mention hinting as a potential source of problems. Right now I'm calling FT_Load_Glyph() with the FT_LOAD_DEFAULT flag, although I've tried pretty much every flag listed at http://www.freetype.org/freetype2/docs/reference/ft2-base_interface.html#FT_LOAD_XXX and none of them have produced adequate results.
Has anyone had a similar problem and determined how to fix it? I really need to render clearly-readable text at a small size, but I've heard that FreeType runs into problems here because certain hinting algorithms are patented, so should I look into an alternative text-drawing library and/or an alternative font? I'm not completely attached to this particular font (it's Liberation Sans TTF), so if there was another font I could use that would look better, that would be fine too.