Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Columbus, Georgia
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Your description of the "lack of detail" in peoples' faces is a perfect description of "clayface", and I believe that this is one in the same phenomenon as "banding", the visible transition from lighter-to-darker shades and vice versa (seen as contour lines going from lighter blue to darker blue in the sky or water, for example), and "posterization" (seen as abrupt changes in skin tone, also along contour lines). You are experiencing the same thing as me, only I just barely happened to notice it in the store before I bought it. There I was, checkbook in hand and looking at something that I knew I couldn't live with.
The PD50 and the PX50 should be the same with regard to false contouring, because they both are limited to 2048 grayscale steps, even when using HDMI/DVI. The commercial panels, the PWD8UK and the PHD8UK supposedly double the number of grayscale steps when feeding the signal via DVI/HDMI. Theoretically, this should reduce or eliminate false contouring. At this point, I have not found anyone who can say definitively that it works, or that it doesn't.
For some reason it appears that Panasonic chose to raise the number of grayscale steps in the new PD60, PX60 and PX600 all the way up to 3072.....which is 1024 steps below what the PWD8 and the PDH8's can do now. I don't understand this move at all. Are they saying that false contouring is eliminated at 3072 and that the 4096 level is overkill? If so, why is NEC doing the 4096 steps as they have for the last several years? I have even heard NEC owners say that they occassionally see "clayface", although they usually say that it is source dependent, not the set.
Unfortunately, comparing the HDMI and component inputs on the PD50 and the PX50 won't shed any light on the 14-bit processing capability or its efficacy. To compare the 2048 steps against the 4096 steps would require a consumer panel and a commercial panel, or comparing the component input against the HDMI input on a commercial panel. It seems like such an obvious comparison to me that all sorts of reviewers would have done it by now. CNET has reviewed the commercial panels, but has never commented on the difference between digital inputs and analog...I just don't understand it.
Anyway, thank you for your reply and I look forward to your continued input.