Thoughts on “Black Detail” Setting
I am admittedly a bit OCD when it comes to calibration, call it a hobby. I probably spend more time playing around with Calman on my E700i-B3 then I do watching content on the TV. I’ve spent quite a bit time messing around with the “Black Detail” setting and have a few thoughts about it, but I am interested to hear the thoughts and experiences of others. Below I’ve outlined some of the pluses and minuses of this setting followed by my conclusions.
This is one of the better black-management features I’ve encountered. If you don’t have a colorimeter and calibration software, and don’t care to pursue professional calibration, then you may want to turn Black Detail on. In some ways, Black Detail addresses some of the goals of a good gamma curve. Basically it is attempting to keep true blacks, black, while preserving black detail (i.e. avoiding black crush). The “Medium” setting seems to be the best at achieving these goals. The “High” setting causes something that can only be described as extreme black crush. Actually, High seems to go way beyond black crush and seems to make nearly everything look black. As far as I am concerned, High is useless. The “Low” setting is better, but tends to wash out blacks. “Medium” appears to have effects that are somewhat analogous to a 2.2 gamma curve. With some major caveats, see below, this setting can actually improve the picture of an uncalibrated set.
If you’re into calibration, you probably don’t want to use this setting. Because it produces dynamic changes in the picture, you can’t really calibrate with this setting turned on. Doing so is like chasing a moving target. If you calibrate with Black Detail off and then turn it on when done, you will seriously screw up your carefully calibrated curve. While the manual claims that Black detail adjusts the overall brightness of the picture depending on what is displayed on the screen, it seems to do much more than this. In fact, the brightness setting appears to be the least affected parameter. Black Detail also causes some significant changes in contrast. The setting significantly lowers contrast in scenes that have a large amount of white. While shifts in contrast with this setting are understandable, more bizarrely, the setting significantly punches up color saturation. If you set Color then turn Black Detail on, you will need to go back and readjust Color again, and possibly Tint, to assure accurate color and natural skin tones. Finally, even on the Medium setting, Black Detail still tends to produce some mild to moderate black crush in certain types of scenes.
If you typically use factory preset picture modes or only adjust a few basic parameters using a disk, then I can recommend the Black Detail - Medium setting. Play around with it. If your picture improves, then use it.
If you own calibration equipment or have paid to have your TV calibrated, calibrate with Black Detail off and then leave it off. If you have a well calibrated gamma curve that is appropriate for the lighting level of your room, then you don’t need what this setting does. If your TV is properly calibrated, then this setting will not help the picture, but will only harm it.
So that’s where I’m at on this topic, but again, I’d love to hear the thoughts of others.