Basic Calibration for Darkest Blacks - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-24-2012, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a 64” Samsung D7000. I watch mostly in a dark room, so I am trying to get the blacks to be as dark as possible. Currently, the blacks look very gray to me. I own the Spears and Munsil and Disney WOW calibration Blu-rays, but I don’t own any type of calibration equipment.

I’ve read and tried lists of users’ advanced settings, but by the time I punch all of those things in, 10 minutes has gone by and I can’t do a quick A-B comparison of whether I like the new settings better or worse. I understand that these settings are going to vary from TV to TV anyway, so when I punch in another user’s 10 pt white balance settings, I assume I could be making my RGB curves better, or worse, with no way of me really knowing (without a trained eye or advanced equipment). I know a professional ISF calibration is best, but I’m just looking to get as good as I can get with the tools that I have.

I think I’d like to just focus on two things:
1. Set TV into movie mode, and use a calibration disc to calibrate Cell Light, Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, and Color, and Tint.
2. Set all other settings to whatever they should be to produce the darkest blacks.

I can follow the instructions with the calibration discs, but I’m a little confused as to how to incorporate Cell Light. How do I work that in when calibrating the Brightness and Contrast?

For the other advanced settings, such as the ones below, what should I set them to in order to produce the darkest blacks?:

Average gamma
Peak White
black tone
dynamic
gamma
flesh tone
edge enhance
motion lighting
xvYcc
color tone
digital noise
mpeg noise
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-24-2012, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ed3120 View Post

I have a 64” Samsung D7000. I watch mostly in a dark room, so I am trying to get the blacks to be as dark as possible. Currently, the blacks look very gray to me. I own the Spears and Munsil and Disney WOW calibration Blu-rays, but I don’t own any type of calibration equipment.
I’ve read and tried lists of users’ advanced settings, but by the time I punch all of those things in, 10 minutes has gone by and I can’t do a quick A-B comparison of whether I like the new settings better or worse. I understand that these settings are going to vary from TV to TV anyway, so when I punch in another user’s 10 pt white balance settings, I assume I could be making my RGB curves better, or worse, with no way of me really knowing (without a trained eye or advanced equipment). I know a professional ISF calibration is best, but I’m just looking to get as good as I can get with the tools that I have.
I think I’d like to just focus on two things:
1. Set TV into movie mode, and use a calibration disc to calibrate Cell Light, Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, and Color, and Tint.
2. Set all other settings to whatever they should be to produce the darkest blacks.
I can follow the instructions with the calibration discs, but I’m a little confused as to how to incorporate Cell Light. How do I work that in when calibrating the Brightness and Contrast?
For the other advanced settings, such as the ones below, what should I set them to in order to produce the darkest blacks?:
Average gamma
Peak White
black tone
dynamic
gamma
flesh tone
edge enhance
motion lighting
xvYcc
color tone
digital noise
mpeg noise

If you don't mind crushing blacks you can put black tone to the darkest setting and turn the gamma slider down, also turning down brightness should help also. Also the hdmi black level can be set to low but you will have no shadow detail.
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-24-2012, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strong island 1 View Post

If you don't mind crushing blacks you can put black tone to the darkest setting and turn the gamma slider down, also turning down brightness should help also. Also the hdmi black level can be set to low but you will have no shadow detail.

Shouldnt have to do that to get good blacks, D7000 is more than capable of rendering a deep shade of black.

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post #4 of 17 Old 08-24-2012, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strong island 1 View Post

If you don't mind crushing blacks you can put black tone to the darkest setting and turn the gamma slider down, also turning down brightness should help also. Also the hdmi black level can be set to low but you will have no shadow detail.

I don't want to recklessly crush the blacks, but I'd like to better understand and see in person, the darkest black level that the TV is capable of producing, and then work my way up from there. The TV gets good ratings, so I assume that the black level can get to a very good level. Right now, when I look at the TV, I just don't think the black level looks very good at all. It's not a mess...it's probably good...I'm just looking for very good, out of a very good TV. I'm not sure why.

I'm sure "very good" is subjective, so I'll describe how I look at a TV. What I do is I watch TV at night, with the lights turned off. I look at dark scenes, or movies with letterbox black bars, and I compare the dark areas or the black bars with the area outside the perimeter of the TV screen (i.e. where there is no TV), which in theory is pitch black minus whatever radiant light the TV is throwing off into the room. For the blackest blacks, I shouldn't see any difference. I shouldn't be able to tell the difference between the black bars and the dark nothingness of the room around the TV. That is the ultimate black level. I understand that what I described is not quite possible really with any TV set sold today....so I look at how much of a difference there is. For a very good TV, I would expect to only see a slight difference. With my TV, I feel like there is a significant difference between the blacks on the TV and the area outside the perimeter of the TV. I can clearly see the black bars.

If I'm looking at this the wrong way, let me know. I'm judging only with my eyes, and not with any tools. I just don't think that I've gotten this TV to look as good as some of the other owners, so I'm trying my best to learn more. I don't expect to get things as good as the guys who have ISF'ed their TV. I just want to get it as good as the people who have done a solid job calibrating using a disc and their eyes.

Also, are gamma and "HDMI Black Level" settings something that I should be playing with to get deeper blacks? Or are those settings that affect more of the color accuracy and grayscale than black level? I just want to make sure that I'm not missing some critical setting that could be limiting my black level.

Thanks for any advice!
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post #5 of 17 Old 08-24-2012, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Another thing that is probably worth adding. I use a PS3 (connected with HDMI) as my Blu-ray player so is it possible that PS3 output settings are limiting the black level?

There are available settings, such as:

RGB Full Range HDMI
Options are:
Limited: RGB output signal is output in the range from 16 to 235.
Full: RGB output signal is output in the range from 0 to 255.

Y Pb / Cb Pr / Cr Super-White (HDMI)
Options are: Off or On

BD / DVD Video Output Format (HDMI)
RGB Set to output in RGB.
Y Pb / Cb Pr / Cr Set to output in Y Pb / Cb Pr / Cr.

I found this thread, which discusses it.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1090362/samsung-lcd-hdmi-black-level-cable-360-ps3-pc
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-24-2012, 02:28 PM
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ed3120
For now skip the dvd tru the PS3.

Try these with your set top box cable/dish.

Black Tone - Darkest
Dynamic Contrast - off
Gamma -1 (each step up or down makes a big difference
Contrast 95
Brightness 40
Digital Noise Filter - Off
Cell Light 20
Color Tone - Warm1
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-24-2012, 02:41 PM
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I think your Gamma control is key. A lower Gamma can bring out the shadow details but if too low, it will wash it out and reduce "Pop", which seems to be what you are looking for. A higher Gamma will darken up the shadow detail, and improve the contrast ratio, but too high a Gamma, and the shadow details get crushed. Ideally, Gamma should be between 2.0 and 2.4.

Source of my limited knowledge:

http://www.hdtvtest.co.uk/news/what-is-gamma-20080511108.htm
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-30-2012, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
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It seems that no matter what I do, I my bottom black level still looks gray. It doesn't look anywhere near "inky."

If I sit on a black screen and adjust Gamma downward, it really doesn't lower my black level. It just adjusts dark grays above black so that I can make them close or further from black.

If I lower my brightness down to zero, the blacks still look very gray to me. Am I missing something? Or are most people just not watching in a dark room?

If I'm playing a game, or watching a downloaded video from my PS3, I have the option of adjusting the "HDMI Black Level" in the TV. The options are Normal and Low. Setting it to Low drastically lowers the black level, but crushes the blacks completely. Setting it to normal results in the grayest, most terrible blacks I've ever seen. When I watch a Bluray on the PS3, the "HDMI Black Level" setting grays out and sets itself back to Normal, so this setting does impact my Blurays, nor does it impact my Tivo.

I don't know what other settings I can play with. I have "RGB Full Range" in the PS3 set to "Full" and Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr Super-White set to on.
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post #9 of 17 Old 08-30-2012, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonyfan View Post

ed3120
For now skip the dvd tru the PS3.

Try these with your set top box cable/dish.
Black Tone - Darkest
Dynamic Contrast - off
Gamma -1 (each step up or down makes a big difference
Contrast 95
Brightness 40
Digital Noise Filter - Off
Cell Light 20
Color Tone - Warm1

I tried this through my Tivo. Even with the Black Tone set to Darkest, and the Brightness set to 0, the blacks weren't black. I tried the various Gamma settings and they didn't change the black level at all. The only other thing in my chain is a Denon AVR-1712 receiver, that the HDMI is passing through.
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post #10 of 17 Old 08-30-2012, 06:53 PM
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something is not right.
just plug the HDMI out from your Dish/cable box into HDMI 1 on the tv.
what are the results.
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post #11 of 17 Old 08-30-2012, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Grabbed a standalone Sony Bluray player. Plugged it into another HDMI input. Set Movie Mode, Warm2, Brightness to zero....still not very dark. Black Tone and Gamma adjustments did nothing to change the black level at that setting.
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post #12 of 17 Old 08-31-2012, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ed3120 View Post

Another thing that is probably worth adding. I use a PS3 (connected with HDMI) as my Blu-ray player so is it possible that PS3 output settings are limiting the black level?
There are available settings, such as:
RGB Full Range HDMI
Options are:
Limited: RGB output signal is output in the range from 16 to 235.
Full: RGB output signal is output in the range from 0 to 255.
Y Pb / Cb Pr / Cr Super-White (HDMI)
Options are: Off or On
BD / DVD Video Output Format (HDMI)
RGB Set to output in RGB.
Y Pb / Cb Pr / Cr Set to output in Y Pb / Cb Pr / Cr.
I found this thread, which discusses it.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1090362/samsung-lcd-hdmi-black-level-cable-360-ps3-pc
The correct setup for the PS3 is to match your levels. Either set your PS3 to RGB Full and TV to HDMI Black Level Normal or RGB Limited and TV to HDMI Black Level Low. Either setup should produce a similar picture and should not have crushed blacks. If you have crushed blacks, that means that either your brightness is set too low or your gamma slider is too low (more on Gamma later). If you mis-match your levels, you'll end up with clipped detail or a washed out picture. It's essential that you match your levels and use one of the configurations above.

Set Blu-Ray output to YCbCr in the DVD/BD settings. Enabling super-white doesn't really change anything, it just expands the range, but virtually nothing takes advantage of this. It is useful for setting Brightness and Contrast, though.

Keep Black Tone disabled. Set Gamma to a level where it doesn't look washed out but shadow detail is still visible. Use Spears & Munsil or Disney WoW to set Brightness, Contrast etc. If you can set the Contrast control to a level that's high enough to hurt your eyes, turn it down to a comfortable level. Don't simply plug someone's settings in.

Also note the following:
-The Brightness control controls the black levels on your TV (Contrast controls white). If you set your TV up as I said above and display a full black screen, there should be a point where blacks won't get any darker if you start high and start to lower the Brightness control. This point should be about the same point as where you got using the S&M or Disney WoW disc to set Brightness. Your black levels won't get any darker than this.

-Gamma is mid-tone brightness, or how fast your TV comes out of black. Gamma is not supposed to affect how dark blacks can get (or how bright whites can get), but it does affect shadow detail. I don't own a Samsung but AFAIK, Samsung's Gamma control doesn't work like gamma should, meaning if you lower the gamma slider, it technically actually increases the gamma. A higher gamma makes shadow detail darker and a lower gamma makes shadow detail brighter and easier to see. If the gamma is too high, shadow detail will be too dark, but if gamma is too low, the picture will look washed out. Gamma should be anywhere from 2 - 2.5 depending on your lighting conditions. For example, a bright room will wash away shadow detail so you'll have to lower the gamma (or raise the gamma slider) to bring the shadow detail back out. In a darker room, it's easier to see shadow detail, so a higher gamma (or going lower on the gamma slider) will work better because it won't look washed out. Again, set it so that shadow detail is visible but the overall picture doesn't look washed out.
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post #13 of 17 Old 08-31-2012, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ed3120 View Post

I don't want to recklessly crush the blacks, but I'd like to better understand and see in person, the darkest black level that the TV is capable of producing, and then work my way up from there. The TV gets good ratings, so I assume that the black level can get to a very good level. Right now, when I look at the TV, I just don't think the black level looks very good at all. It's not a mess...it's probably good...I'm just looking for very good, out of a very good TV. I'm not sure why.
I'm sure "very good" is subjective, so I'll describe how I look at a TV. What I do is I watch TV at night, with the lights turned off. I look at dark scenes, or movies with letterbox black bars, and I compare the dark areas or the black bars with the area outside the perimeter of the TV screen (i.e. where there is no TV), which in theory is pitch black minus whatever radiant light the TV is throwing off into the room. For the blackest blacks, I shouldn't see any difference. I shouldn't be able to tell the difference between the black bars and the dark nothingness of the room around the TV. That is the ultimate black level. I understand that what I described is not quite possible really with any TV set sold today....so I look at how much of a difference there is. For a very good TV, I would expect to only see a slight difference. With my TV, I feel like there is a significant difference between the blacks on the TV and the area outside the perimeter of the TV. I can clearly see the black bars.
If I'm looking at this the wrong way, let me know. I'm judging only with my eyes, and not with any tools. I just don't think that I've gotten this TV to look as good as some of the other owners, so I'm trying my best to learn more. I don't expect to get things as good as the guys who have ISF'ed their TV. I just want to get it as good as the people who have done a solid job calibrating using a disc and their eyes.
Also, are gamma and "HDMI Black Level" settings something that I should be playing with to get deeper blacks? Or are those settings that affect more of the color accuracy and grayscale than black level? I just want to make sure that I'm not missing some critical setting that could be limiting my black level.
Thanks for any advice!

I had the 60e7000 and I also thought the blacks were gray compared to the bezel. I also had to lighten them up a lot to try and get some shadow detail. If you turn hdmi level to the darkest setting and dark tone to the darkest setting and set the gamma as dark as possible the tv gets pretty dark but there is absolutely no Shadow detail. In a pitch black room this tv's blacks are not that black compared to the bezel.

I now have the vt50 and the black bars are so close to the bezel they almost blend in. It's a noticeble difference in a dark room compared to the e7000. Plus you also get good shadow detail, but sometimes there is a lot of dithering in dark scenes. I believe the e7000 is better in certain ways than the vt50 but black level and shadow detail are much better on the vt50 and that was really important to me. The colors are also much more saturated and theres more pop on the vt50.
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post #14 of 17 Old 08-31-2012, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ed3120 View Post

Grabbed a standalone Sony Bluray player. Plugged it into another HDMI input. Set Movie Mode, Warm2, Brightness to zero....still not very dark. Black Tone and Gamma adjustments did nothing to change the black level at that setting.

I think you might have too high of expectations like I did. I was expecting the black bars to blend into the bezel.. They actually glow a little bit in pitch black and never get close to bezel dark. You should try some bias lighting. I noticed if my door was open and some light came in the black bars were a little darker.
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post #15 of 17 Old 09-01-2012, 07:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strong island 1 View Post

I think you might have too high of expectations like I did. I was expecting the black bars to blend into the bezel.. They actually glow a little bit in pitch black and never get close to bezel dark. You should try some bias lighting. I noticed if my door was open and some light came in the black bars were a little darker.

I think you may be right. Maybe these TVs just can't display inky black in a room with no other lighting. Now I just need to find a bias lighting kit for a 64 inch wall mounted TV. (Easier said than done.)
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post #16 of 17 Old 09-09-2012, 10:07 AM
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'D65 Video Bias Lighting- Fundamental Theory And Practice'
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1162578
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post #17 of 17 Old 09-09-2012, 01:01 PM
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PS3 settings should be:
RGB Range = Limited
Super White = On

TV settings should be:
HDMI Black Level = Low
Black Tone = Darkest (although you will crush some black detail. I leave mine off to ensure good shadow detail, but I usually have bias or a little ambient lighting)
Gamma = -3 (same issues as above w/ black tone. Ideally you would want to measure the gamma and get it to 2.4 for a dark room.)


Being the owner of a Samsung C8000 plasma I can tell you that the Panasonic does indeed have better blacks than the Sammys, and there is just no way around it. I do feel that the Samsungs have a better color decoder and video processing as cable channels look much better on my set than on either of my friends Pannys (VT30, GT30, PZ700) even though we all have the same cable provider and cable boxes.

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