AVS Special Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco - East Bay area
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What do you mean by the statement 'Contrast is too high." That doesn't make any sense. With the backlight set to the highest setting, you should have WAY too much light output from the panel.
Are you using a meter or are you setting things by eye?
You really CANNOT lose shadow detail if you have the Brightness control set correctly. You need a test/setup disc with a PLUGE pattern or with digital levels of 0-25 or 16-25 or thereabouts. You should be just barely able to see step 18... step 17 may or may not be visible, and step 16 should be just as black as the black background around all "test patches" from the disc.
During all this you should be using Movie mode. I would start with Backlight somewhere in the middle of the range when you adjust Brightness. Set the Shadow control to 0. Contrast (the control) should then be set to produce about 35 fL in a dark room or around 55 fL in a brightly lit room. If you don't have a meter, this is going to be a guess... the level in a dark room should not make you squint when you display a bright white (100% white) pattern in a dark room. If you are squinting, you are going to have eye-strain from brighter movies -- and avoiding eyestrain is the whole purpose of setting the 100% white level to 35 fL using the Contrast control. (The Contrast control really does not set "Contrast" it sets white level... the amount of light the TV products when you display a 100% white pattern). And the Brightness control does set "brightness" it sets the black level.
You also need to be sure you aren't setting the source components to RGB 0-255 while the TV is working in RGB 16-235 which will cause a huge loss of shadow detail. Your sources should be in YCbCr 4:2:2 and the TV should be in YCbCr mode also. This will insure you are using 16-235 all the time for all sources. If your cable or satellite box has no setting and it only outputs RGB, it SHOULD be outputting RGB 16-235 (but you never know if there's no setting in the box's setup menu) so if you feel like you have good shadows for Blu-ray but not for cable/satellite, you can try setting the TV to RGB 0-255 to see if shadows look more natural.
It sounds like you are wrapped around an axle here... and going back to the basics may get you out of it. If your black level (digital 16) is not correctly set, you will NEVER... NOT EVER... get the TV to have proper/good shadow detail. The control that does that is the Brightness control. Backlight dimming will NOT remove shadow detail... dimming WILL make shadows darker and whites brighter... when dimming is well-implemented, it is often actually a GOOD feature. The other thing that affects shadow detail is whether you are using RGB or YCbCr mode and if you are using RGB, that you are using the CORRECT VERSION of RGB... 0-255 is usually for computer sources... though some source components can be set to output 0-255. RGB 16-235 is the "normal" RGB mode for consumer video sources. However, Blu-ray discs are encoded with YCbCr and the least amount of processing within your system will be done if the disc player and TV are both in YCbCr 4:2:2 mode (4:4:4 may be an option but it is unnecessary... you send a lot more data in that format, but it doesn't add anything to the images).
"Movies is magic..." Van Dyke Parks
THX Certified Professional Video Calibration
Widescreen Review -- Home Theater & Sound