Originally Posted by chasingfiction
I am curious about the starting Samsung black level readings. D-Nice says that he has seen them to be comparable to starting Panasonic levels yet CNET and Cleveland Plasma's readings seem to indicate that Panasonic still has the highest starting readings and that even after the rise they are higher than the competition. D-Nice has said that this might be b/c they are measuring them with the Cinema Smooth on but according to CNET the numbers were pretty high even before Cinema Smooth.
I guess I would still think that Panasonic was the best bang for your buck if the black levels were about the same or lower on Panasonics after the rise as they are on other brands.
D-Nice, do you think that Panasonic will still have this problem in 2011?
The Samsung plasmas I've had this year are a 50C7000 (converted to C8000 in SM), 50C450, 58C550, and 58C7000. So I've had four of them. I also had a Panny 50G25.
The Panny 50G25's when new (before the rise) seem to consistently measure around 0.007 fL.
I set my 50G25 next to my 58C550 and on a 0 IRE the black levels were indistinguishable. They looked virtually identical, and I would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Now on actual content, the 58C550 had nicer blacks than the G25, because the floating blacks on the G25 meant on a significant number of scenes, the G25 looked lighter than the C550. On some scenes they still looked identical, and every once in a while the Panny looked darker than the Samsung, but the majority of the time, if there was a difference, the Sammy looked darker. The actual shift in black levels from scene to scene is also mildly annoying on the Panasonic. So the annoying shift, plus lighter black levels on many scenes, equals no question a worse black level performance on the G25 as compared to the 58C550. The Panny G25 fresh out of the box compares a bit more favorably in comparison to my 50 inch C7000 which is not as deep as my 58's.
The 58 inch Samsungs have been measured by D-Nice, Chad, and others around 0.007 fL or so, give or take a thousandth. So my 58C550 looking identical on a 0 IRE to the G25 (there's no floating blacks on a 0 IRE) means they probably were in fact around 0.007 fL. I had four 2009 Samsung plasmas, and my four 2010 Samsungs are easily 2-3 times darker.
Now, when I got my 58C7000 I set it right next to the 58C550 and once again fed both a 0 IRE, via my HDMI splitter. No difference in black levels. Identical. The 58C7000 is likely around the commonly reported 0.007 fL level as well. Obviously I have not thrown a meter on any of them, but am just doing side by side comparisons and basing these guestimates upon what the common reported numbers are.
My 50C7000 fresh out of the box, had pretty disappointing blacks. Probably similar to those 0.019 fL numbers that some are quoting, or even higher. At any rate, similar to my last year's 2009 models, so you could imagine my disappointment. Well, I upgraded the FW, then I went into the SM and changed it to a C8000, but it was daylight when I did this. Then later at night when it got dark, I conducted some more tests, and the blacks were much darker, and much nicer than last year's B860's. So I don't know if it was the FW upgrade, or going into the SM to change it to a C8000 or what, but after I did these two steps the blacks darkened quite a bit, probably dropping in half. Of course when you enter the SM and then exit, your settings are all reset, and you have to re-enter them.
Some people have reported a glitch on their C7000/C8000 Samsungs which makes their black levels jump up. I think it was addressed in a recent FW release. I am not referring to Cinema Smooth, which everyone acknowledges increases the black levels. I am talking about a different glitch which if you do not reset, will leave your black levels higher even when Cinema Smooth is not engaged. There was some trick people discussed to reverse this glitch, but I forgot exactly what it was, and since the new FW has been released, I don't think people have to resort to using it anymore anyhow.
So it is entirely possible that CNET measured a 0.019 fL on their C7000 test sample. They could have experienced the glitch that some people have referred to. They should probably upgrade to the latest FW.
When I set my 50C7000 next to both my 58's, the 58's are visibly darker. D-Nice reports that he's been getting 0.009-0.010 fL on the 50's he's been calibrating, and more like 0.007 or so on the 58/63's.
It seems very plausible that this is the case with mine as well, since in a direct comparison side by side, my 50 is a couple of steps lighter than both my 58's. But it is still about twice as dark as my last year's 50B860's which were an estimated 0.020 - 0.025 fL. I believe it when the 58's measure around 3 times as dark (0.007 fL vs 0.021) that's about what it looks to my eyes.
At any rate, in a lights out darkened room, my 55C8000 LED easily has deeper blacks than my 58 inch plasmas, as long as you are watching near front and center, and the backlight is under 10. You really don't need your backlight above 5 or 6 in a dark room. Maybe 7 if you like a brighter picture. Anyway, of course the lower you turn your backlight down, the deeper the blacks get. It all comes down to how much subdued white highlights you can tolerate. The one downside with this edge-lit with precision dimming is that white text on a black background or star fields where there are little bright specks of white on a black background look kinda dull or subdued. You can crank the backlight to 15-20 and get bright white highlights, but then your black levels are not as impressive, and more like a Samsung plasma.
Of course, because of ABL on plasmas this is not an issue with majority of the screen or full screen whites. The edge-lits have no problems when the picture is brighter (higher-APL). The whites look much crisper and brighter than on the plasma. You tend to notice this on commercials, since many commercials feature all-white backgrounds. They look much more pleasing on the LED than on the plasma.
So anyway, if my 58 inch Sammy plazzys are around 0.007 fL, then with my backlight at 5 or 6 on my C8000, and the precision dimming engaged on standard, I have no qualms about saying that my C8000 has 8G Kuro blacks. It is very noticeably darker than my plasmas with all the lights off. Not just a thousandth or two, like 0.006 or 0.005, but probably half the black level of the plasma. The difference on the opening scenes of Master and Commander
for example is very striking. It is not close. The C8000 easily bests the plasmas by a good margin.
Also, the LED has the advantage of going lights out on fades to black. The LED's shut off very rapidly, without any delay, so it is very nice. Commericals and other fades to black give you total blackness so that you cannot even tell that the TV is on. Even my Kuro could not accomplish this. In a darkened room, with my eyes adjusted, the Kuro would still look a dark gray compared to my B8500 and my two C8000's on fades to blacks. The plunge to complete blackness is a very nice touch.
Of course, there is a subtle waterfall (blooming-like) effect that can be seen if you know what to look for. I do not find it overly objectionable. It is similar to the blooming or haloing you get with a locally-dimmed LED. Mildly distracting, but not a total deal breaker.
Bottom line? I will put up with the occasional mild amount of waterfall effect as a result of the precision dimming, to get those deep dark Kuro like black levels. They are worth it when you compare the blacks with the Samsung plasmas.
The off-angle viewing still sucks big time on Sonys and Sammys, so if you can't ever sit front and center or swivel the TV toward you in the dark, then I guess you are stuck with PDP or get an LG with the horribly reflective screen and the minor banding issues.
Of course the C8000 LED smokes all plasmas for blacks/contrast during the brighter daytime too, so overall I can easily say that the C8000 LED has much better blacks than the 0.007 fL Samsung plasmas, no matter what time of the day or night. It's too bad I have to sacrifice a bit of size (55 vs. 58), but I like Samsung's best PQ LED vs. their PDP this year, just like last year the B8500 was easily better than the B860 (I had both side by side).
So Samsung's top of the line LED's are still their best TV, just as they advertise. Too bad the viewing angles suck just as much as ever, but this is only really an issue in the dim/dark. LG is going to walk all over Samsung if they can't figure out how to make the vieiwng angles better on their VA panels.
LG has already proven that you can have very deep blacks coupled with nice viewing angles on their LED. They just need to cut down on the banding, which I expect them to do next year, and design a half-way decent AR filter.
By the way, people are saying that Samsung finally got off their lazy arses and after several months fixed the stuttering with their AMP, especially with 24p. That was the reason I ditched my last C8000. Now that it's been fixed, I picked up a second. I haven't gotten around to testing it fully yet, but the problem does seem to have been addressed. The AMP seems to be working much more smoothly now, like it did the year before on the B8500. Except the artifacts have been reduced a great deal over last year's AMP.
Since the C8000 has deeper blacks than the Sammy plazzys, and the blacks don't rise when you watch 24p, and now the AMP works smoothly without the hiccups or stutter, the C8000 LED is the better 2D set--as it should be--since it is more expensive.
Oh, one other thing. The processing on my C8000 LED is visibly better than the processing on my C7000 plasmas, including the one which was converted to a C8000 in the SM. On the 2007 Kuro demo disc, much less moire and rainbow flickering on those tests with the checkered hat, and the striped shirt, etc.
The picture on the LED is just cleaner than the plasmas as well. It's soooooo nice and clean and crisp.
The C8000 LED, now that Samsung finally fixed the wonked AMP, is their best TV for 2010 (at least 2D). No buzz at all! No image retention! No line bleed! Crisp full screen or majority of screen whites! Deeper blacks! The downside is subdued bright white highlights on dim or black scenes, and white lettering on black backgrounds, star-fields. Also, mild water-fall effect or haloing. Only people that must sit a ways off to the side in the dark should go for the plasma. The Samsung plasmas are the best bang for the buck in 2010, however.
My cheapie 50C450 768p which was only $500 had blacks just as deep as the G25. The cheapie entry-level Samsungs have just as deep of blacks as the step-up models.