So D-Nice came by to calibrate the 500M on Sunday and I wanted to get a few days of living with the new settings under my belt before sharing my thoughts.
Pre-calibration, I followed D-Nice's 150 hour break-in procedure. I was curious as to how close that would get me to perfect results as I didn't follow it exactly on the 111FD that I was using previously.
After finally completing the break-in and entering D's settings for Pure, ISF-Night and ISF-Day, I felt that they each looked good (okay, excellent) but there was still a noticeable, albiet slight room for improvement in the areas of color and greyscale.
As with the 111FD, I felt that the ISF modes added more punch versus the more subdued look of Pure, but with that punch came a bit of an overblown, digital look. Such qualities were fine for certain circumstances, but it kept me from taking Pure and its smoother, more natural look off of the table completely. I had always assumed that what I was seeing was simply the nature of the ISF modes. Post-calibration I expected little more than to arrive at moderate improvements in color/greyscale and frankly I'd have been happy with that.
Much to my very pleasant surprise, this was not the case. It's clear to me now that along with nailing the greyscale and color points, arriving at the correct gamma values is absolutely essential
when adjusting the ISF modes. The difference in being close and being essentially dead-on in this area is absolutely huge. The digital, contrasty look of ISF Day in particular is completely gone now, and has been replaced by the most naturally deep, rich and dimensional picture that I have ever seen on a television. Pure is now dead and buried, with ISF-Night and Day not only looking every bit as smooth and as natural now, but with an extra layer of depth and realism that Pure just can't match. Add in the additional peak brightness of ISF Day when you want it and it's a complete win for the ISF modes.
Since purchasing the 111FD and now the 500M, I've always used the IMAX scenes found on the Dark Knight Blu-Ray as demo and test material. I've viewed them enough times by now that I should probably feel embarassed that I don't have better things to do. These scenes have always looked spectacular, but I have never seen them look like how they do now, and the improvement isn't marginal. I've never been one to declare that watching TV - any TV - is just like "looking through a window into the world" as I've heard claimed by many other people while watching their HDTV, and I generally dismiss such statements as overexcitement and hyperbole. I can almost always pick out a TV from real life. There's an electronic component to watching a television that prevents even the best picture from truly earning the "window to the world" descriptor to my eyes.
However, when presented with a truly pristine source, I now find myself reevaluating my opinion of that subject. There have been a few breathless moments where I literally felt as if I was watching something unfold live in my livingroom. It's truly a site to behold.
So for those of you who will calibrate your ISF modes, whether by yourself or via a pro, I cannot stress enough how important the 9 point gamma controls are. They're not there simply to make the numbers on a calibration chart look pretty. The visual impact that they have is tremendous, and when properly adjusted, the results are absolutely outstanding. At first it felt as if I had upgraded to a different TV. Now, having let my initial excitement wear down to a more reasonable level, I still feel the same.
Thanks to D-Nice for a job well done, and I can't imagine anyone improving on what he accomplished. I've attached my ISF Night/Day calibration reports, though there's nothing out of the ordinary to be found within if you've been keeping up on the others.
Pioneer KRP-500M Forum Post Calibration Report (ISF-Night).pdf 196.728515625k . file
Pioneer KRP-500M Forum Post Calibration Report (ISF-Day).pdf 196.6044921875k . file