you were absolutely right, the problem was actually Cinema Smooth. It actually makes a huge difference, at least in testing, not sure how much difference I can tell in real world viewing.
Here are the results of Cinema Smooth off vs on...
With Cinema Smooth off, both 60 frames and 24 frames test the same, so that isn't an issue any more.
I was able to get good results using the Windows patterns on AVS HD, pretty identical test results to what I got with the Panasonic but the picture is drastically different on the screen.
I actually have a lower brightness setting yet the picture on the screen is brighter (184 cd/m2 vs 166 cd/m2) but also more washed out. It's probably how it's supposed to look but I haven't decided if I like it yet. In comparison to my old settings, the previous settings definitely crush blacks (again even though that was at a brightness of 49 and the new settings are 47). Switching between a paused picture, I can see more details in the blacks and in shadows with the new settings. A good example is on the Disney WOW disk, in the Beginners section under Color, there is a fruit stand still image. With the old setting, the doorways on each side are basically black, there is a very very slight trace that there are actually things inside the doorways. With the new settings, you can clearly see objects in the doorways. So again that's probably how it's supposed to look, but it's lacking "pop" compared to the old settings which has a more contrasty look, maybe something similar to Dynamic Contrast Low.
The Color Space on Auto with a color setting of 57 is actually pretty close to what it should be if I'm looking at the chart right, can you guys confirm? Doesn't really seem to need much if any adjustment.
One other thing I noted, and I believe this is called dithering , but I always noticed a green/blue "snow" in black areas of the screen up close. From further away, it wasn't really noticeable. Setting the brightness to 47 completely gets rid of it and it's a smooth black background, but 48+ gets it right back. Has anyone else noticed this? Also seems source specific as with DirecTV content, I need to go down to a brightness of 41 to get rid of it.
It actually came out pretty good in a close up photo...first photo is brightness 48 and second is brightness 47.