AVS Special Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco - East Bay area
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The brightest white level isn't the RIGHT white level either. You want around 35 fL for a flat panel display in a dark room. If you try to set the highest white level, you could end up with 50-90 fL which is so bright it will cause eyestrain in a dark room. You shouldn't be squinting at a bright white screen in a dark room if the white level (Contrast setting) is correct. Setup discs never describe this correctly. Without a meter, you never know how close or how far you are from the 35 fL level you want to be at. All you can do is guess, based on whether you are experiencing eyestrain or not. The first sign of eyestrain is squiting when the screen is very bright... if that's happening, keep reducing Contrast until the squinting stops, even small amounts of squinting will cause eyestrain or even a headache after a couple of hours of viewing. After you get the squinting eliminated, you have to rely on long term vewing... 2 hours or more, to determine whether the image is still too bright. If you view a "normal" movie that isn't especially dark nor especially bright, and you feel like there's a bit of eyestrain after 2 hours or so, reduce Contrast more and try again on the next movie you watch. It could takes weeks to find the right Contrast setting using that method, but without a meter, it's your only option. With a meter, you just display a 100% white pattern and adjust Contrast (and Backlight if it's an LCD panel) until you are in the 35 fL neighborhood and leave it.
The brighter the room, the brighter you want to make the panel. With 1 lamp on, you might want 40 fL. During the day with sunlight coming into the room, you might want 55 fL or even 60-70 fL depending on how bright the light is. Some TVs, especially plasmas, might not even get as bright as 60-70 fL though. Some LCD TVs will produce 100 fL or more at the highest Contrast and Brightness settings.
"Movies is magic..." Van Dyke Parks
THX Certified Professional Video Calibration
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Widescreen Review -- Home Theater & Sound