Glad to see another PN**B450 owner. Hope we can get an owners thread going. I am new to all this HD stuff too. I just got my tv about 2 weeks ago and started reading up on HD a few weeks before that. I have read a lot of information but it is still an open question as to how much better informed I am. Disclaimer: I am new to this hd stuff and merely express my opinion and point of view. I have no expertise and will be wrong often. There are many experts in this forum and they should be taken seriously.
To your first point about Modes; from my point of view there are 2 main camps when it comes to adjusting the settings. One says the proper setting is the one that will reproduce the most accurate representation of what the original author intended. The other is "I want what looks best to me and my eyes and the original author be damned, "accuracy" is not important to me". They both have merits and everyone has to decide where they stand.
The d65k standard is what the "video engineers" have decided is the proper light level for all shades of grayscale. It seems to be the "holy grail" of settings. This link explains it much better than I can. cavx.blogspot.com/2008/09/d6500k-and-why-it-is-so-important.html
. (Sorry for the poor URL I am not yet permitted to post URLs.)
I don't plan on having a professional cal done either. It would cost about half of the price of the tv, and my picture may not be perfect but it looks very good to me.
There are many ways to cal your own set. You could buy a cal disk and use it to cal your set. There are several and the Digital Video Essential (DVE) and Avia seem to be the most popular. Both are available on amazon and many other places. I have used the DVE disk and would suggest that if you are not the type of person who will RTFM and spend a couple hours preparing to do the cal you would probably be happier with the avia disk. I have not used the avia disk. I have seen links to some free downloadable disks but don't have the link right now. You can also use the THX optimizer that is on most/all pixar disks.
I have a stb (SA explorer3250HD), blu ray dvd.
My settings at the current time (subject to change)
Cell Light: 5
Black Tone: Off
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Color Space: Auto
White Balance : all set to default (25)
Flesh Tone: 0
Edge Enhancement: Off
Color Tone: Normal
Digital NR: Low
HDMI Black Level: Normal
Film Mode: Off
Screen Burn Protection: On 2sec pixel shift
I am not married to most of those settings but seem to work for now and will change if I find a good rationale.
The room where I have the tv is fairly dark with no direct light on the screen. There is some indirect light from the other rooms.
Hope we get a lot of owners to contribute to the conversation.