Samsung F8500 Black Optimizer Question - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-07-2014, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Samsung F8500 Black Optimizer Question

Just wondering about the black optimizer on the Samsung F8500. What is the difference between setting the black optimizer to dark room or auto? If I set it to auto, are the black levels worse than dark room or is there no change to black levels, and a slight change to brightness? If anyone can explain the differences between the two settings, I would appreciate it.
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-08-2014, 05:26 AM
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On the F5300, the way it works is as following:

Dark room: Best black levels but impacts peak luminance of F5300 panel which maxes out at around 34ftL
Bright room: Higher black level but max luminance is increased to ~42 ftL
Auto: Seems to blend between Dark Room at low APL levels, and to Bright room at higher APL levels. Still achieves ~42 ftL peak luminance

Not sure if it behaves the exact same way on the F8500. Given that it is a much brighter panel, you probably want to use Dark Room for dark viewing, and only switch to Auto for daytime viewing if Dark room isn't letting you get a bright enough output from the panel.
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-08-2014, 09:52 AM
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Auto seems to change between dark and bright room based on the ambient light sensor in the set.
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-08-2014, 10:21 AM
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43F4900 All figures in candela/m2

Near black 'dark room' and 'auto' behave the same. Near white 'bright room' and 'auto' behave the same. Any setting is better than 'Off'.
On the processing side, the F8500 plasma offers a new "Black Optimizer" function. This feature can stretch the set's brightest white from 235 to 255 (on a brightness scale of 0 to 255). Why would this matter? This processing allows the typical peak brightness in most content (235) to come closer to the set's actual maximum light output (255). So this produces higher peak white output as well as smoother gradations on real world content, not just test patterns. And if the processor detects that there is actual picture information in the range between 235 and 255 on the program material, then it scales back the processing so as not to "clip" the whites or wash out those white details.

This can be particularly helpful in brighter rooms, where that extra bit of peak brightness makes a big difference. You can set the "Black Optimizer" to "Bright Room," "Dark Room" or "Automatic" (the default) which uses an ambient light sensor on the TV to decide when to make the adjustments.

A second component of the Black Optimizer is a proprietary reset pulse algorithm which improves the black level performance and is active when the Black Optimizer is set to "Dark Room," "Bright Room" or "Auto." There is actually an "Off" setting in the Black Optimizer which disables both the brightness enhancements and the reset pulse, but really the only purpose for the "Off" button is to see what you would be missing without it. Most users will be happy with the set in the "Auto" mode and purists will probably want to keep it in the "Dark room" setting.
When we first caught sight of the Samsung PS64F8500 at the 2013 CES in January, we called the performance of the TV “OLED-like”, which was a bold statement that probably caused a few eyebrows to be raised.
Have a look at the overall contrast performance of one, and we think you’ll agree that this is really not a crazy remark. The PS-64F8500′s best black level, which we measured from a nearly-black screen at 0.006 cd/m2, is neck and neck with this year’s Panasonics. The F8500 dims to near-black if an entirely black screen is input; we defeated this behaviour by keeping a small patch on screen (far away from the measurement area). Just for the record, we achieved these results by using the [Black Optimiser] feature. Setting this to “Dark Room” results in the 0.006 cd/m2 black level. By default, it’s at 0.018 cd/m2, which is still extremely good, but the extra depth of the “Dark Room” setting will be visible and appreciable in… well, a dark room. The menu blurb for this control promises that it will “get deeper blacks and magnify the contrast of low gradation by using PDP waveform and signal compensation”.
This control governs the use of Interlaced 30hz Reset Pulses in the panel driving algorithm. We will need to clarify this with Samsung’s PDP engineers, but our understanding is that this technique allows for very dark areas of the picture to be refreshed every second line, which in turn allows for considerably deeper blacks, and a hardly noticeable line pattern running through these areas. That’s an excellent trade-off, in our view.
If you press your nose up to the panel and look at it very carefully with a dark screen in a dark room, you’ll be able to see very small darker lines appearing to scroll up the screen at a fast rate.That’s hardly worth mentioning, but it’s interesting because we typically see this same effect on Panasonic plasma TVs (and from our recollection, Pioneer’s Kuro plasmas used it first). In fact, in 2012, we saw it on Panasonic plasmas, but only on the picture modes that prioritised contrast performance over gradation quality. “Ah-ha!” we thought, “is this a feature which reduces gradation in exchange for better contrast performance?” – apparently not. We had a look at just-above-black content on the PS64F8500 with and without the [Black Optimiser] mode on the “Dark Room” setting, and could see no difference in the amount of panel-generated dithering in the image, suggesting that the gradation is the same in both cases. Therefore, we left this feature on at all times, because we could see no reason not to.
It’s very interesting that Samsung felt the need to make this adjustable with a menu control: we searched high and low for this control causing other side-effects in the image, bombarding the 64-inch F8500 with test patterns and real-world content alike… and couldn’t find any significant downsides to turning it on. Perhaps they simply did so to draw attention to the improvement in black level.
A slightly less mundane difference relates to flicker. With the “Dark Room” mode turned on, we occasionally saw some very, very, very gentle flicker in some shades (10-20% grey windows, for example). This was incredibly mild to begin with, but disappeared when the feature was turned off. That is perhaps why control has been given over it. In any case, 99.9% of viewers will notice the richer contrast performance of the “Dark Room” mode more than the barely noticeable flicker, which is why we recommend this setting. The choice is down to the user.

Last edited by 22point8; 10-08-2014 at 10:47 AM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-08-2014, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by 22point8 View Post
43F4900 All figures in candela/m2

Near black 'dark room' and 'auto' behave the same. Near white 'bright room' and 'auto' behave the same. Any setting is better than 'Off'.
Yup, that is exactly what I found with my F5300 as well.

Originally Posted by Stereodude View Post
Auto seems to change between dark and bright room based on the ambient light sensor in the set.
That is what I thought, but I measured "Auto" in pitch black conditions and it still gave me the "Dark Room" level blacks for low APL scenes, but boosted peak luminance to 42ftL on the upper end, mimicking "Bright Room" settings at higher APL levels. But it might be that it relies on the sensor with the F8500 (which would make sense).
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post #6 of 6 Old 10-08-2014, 11:53 AM
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with the f8500. it appears as though auto changes based on room conditions. if I turn the lights on, the MLL rises to match off/bright room levels. if I leave the lights off, the MLL remains low like the dark room setting.

setting it to bright room, increases the peak luminance, but only if you have your contrast high. at a setting of 90, it basically makes no difference. at 100, it was almost 10ftl brighter iirc.

based on my experience with my f8500. I'd recommend the following

off: only if you are very sensitive to the changing black level and it's distracting you
bright room: if you almost always watch in a bright room, have the contrast maxed out, and want as bright of image as possible
dark room: if you almost always watch in low ambient light and want the lowest possible MLL
auto: if you often switch between bright and dark ambient lighting, and want the highest on/off contrast ratio
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