Originally Posted by Ken Ross
OK, so just back from the shootout and really tired. So if I sound incoherent, that's because I am.
For me, the biggest surprises were the effectiveness of the filter on the ZT60. Yes, it really does help that panel in typical room lighting while displaying blacks. But as I said at the shootout, the same filter that's effective in combating room light also robs the panel of a precious 5flt of brightness.
Second surprise, and I'm not sure how it showed up on your screens at home, but the Panasonics seriously clip white. Half the scale was missing on the Panasonics and the entire scale was visible on the Samsung. Kevin Miller told me it was obvious that Panasonic designed this panel for blacks and were very aware they were sacrificing brightness in the process. I asked if it was possible to get more than the 30ftl from the ZT60 or 35ftl from the VT60. The answer was a definitive 'no'. It's already clipping at the levels they calibrated them at. On the flip side, I believe it was David who thought for actual material it probably wouldn't be all the visible.
I agree with what some of you saw regarding color saturation on the 8500. At times it looked a bit less saturated. At other times, such as when they played Skyfall, the colors looked identical to the ZT60 & VT60. I mean identical. I don't know why a few other times it appeared a bit less saturated. I also thought the 8500 was a bit redder than the VT & ZT. But it's important to note that all the calibrators said to me that the 8500 was absolutely tracking properly and was fully in compliance with Rec709. I believe it was D-Nice who said if you turned off the VT & ZT, you'd never see the disparity. Kevin Miller absolutely felt the 8500 was extremely accurate.
At times the black levels of the ZT looked a bit better than the VT, but that was primarily when the room lighting was on. Once off, they looked identical. The big surprise to me was at the end when they played the Kuro demo reel that was designed to highlight blacks. I'm telling you guys, 95% of that demo looked IDENTICAL on all 3 panels. The other 5% of the time I gave the edge to the ZT & VT.
I don't know if it came across on your monitors, but at times the brightness advantage was very obvious on the 8500, but not as often as you might think. I don't believe the material they played, IMO, really highlighted the brightness differences. When was the disparity the most obvious? If you caught the period when they were playing around with Directv, the brightness differences were at times, huge. It was during those times that the screen had the largest % of bright areas. Hello ABL!
The Panasonic clearly has some issues such as calibration, clipping & 3D resolution. I personally don't care about 3D, but I know some of you guys do.
Although I was initially surprised at how well the ZT handled the room lighting, by the end of the night I came to the conclusion that, IMO, the 8500 has the most versatile qualities and did more things better than the other panels. The black levels are really close and the Kuro demo showed that in spades. But there's no question that if your biggest concern is MLL, than the ZT/VT is your best choice. Personally, if I was choosing between the 2, I'd go for the ZT if you had the extra cash. I really believe that filter does enough in terms of combating room lights and keeping black levels respectable, that it's worth the extra cost. But IMO, it simply is not a versatile panel. It does one thing better than the others, many other things as well as the others and falls woefully short in the brightness department.
Forgot about apparent sharpness. No surprises there, the Samsung looked the sharpest.
Oh yes, I ordered the F8500.