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Well, I bought my first plasma...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
...and I gotta say I'm pretty disappointed with the black levels. Now it is the new Samsung PN51E550, ok, I know the E550 isn't top of the line and I know the smaller 51" Samsung panels have higher black levels than the larger panels, I get all that...but damn, this thing ain't all that much better than my '09 LG 42LH40 LCD and really I would say looks a little worse I think.

I'm currently using the stock "cinema" settings, the things I changed being lowering the sharpness to zero and darkening the gamma a bit more. Now I don't expect top of the line blacks from the E550 series, but surely something at least better than an LG LCD?

My LG LCD blacks actually aren't terrible, they're pretty light during dark scenes but during brighter scenes letterbox and 4x3 bars look pretty decently deep, the bars actually looking better on the LG than the E550. For anyone familiar with LG LCDs, all the settings (backlight, contrast, sharpness, etc.) are on scales of 0 to 100; for my set I'm using the "cinema" setting with the backlight actually lowered very far down to 5, which is pretty low especially when most people and reviews recommend around 20-30 for the backlight, however it appears plenty bright in my small room at night with the lights out.

So I'm just not sure what's going on here? My room is about 10x10 feet and at night with the lights out is pretty much black. Given that it's a small room, could the actual light from the TV itself when turned on cause the blacks to wash out? (Since it's a small room, the light from the TV is sort of "trapped" so to speak, it can't dissipate out like in say a large basement or living room). Or could it be that the E550 is just such a larger and brighter set than my LG (like I said, 5 is a pretty low and dim setting for an LG LCD backlight) that I'm just not used to it? Whatever it is, the blacks just don't look good.

Anyway, I'm just kinda bummed because I decided about a year ago after paying off my TV that I was going to get a plasma because I wanted deeper black levels than my LCD. I hate the idea of having to return it, but I just may have to.

(I also really hate the way the screen will turn completely dark with nothing on, and then pop right back up the moment something is about to appear. For example, taking a look at Doctor Zhivago last night, between the overture and opening credits the screen turned off to a deep blank black, then a split second before the MGM lion comes on the screen pops back on. The same thing happened after the end of the credits and the opening of the film. Why does Samsung do this? Do they really think that by turning the screen off they're fooling us into thinking the TV has a deeper black than it really does? It's just annoying and distracting).
post #2 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Stieg View Post

...and I gotta say I'm pretty disappointed with the black levels. Now it is the new Samsung PN51E550, ok, I know the E550 isn't top of the line and I know the smaller 51" Samsung panels have higher black levels than the larger panels, I get all that...but damn, this thing ain't all that much better than my '09 LG 42LH40 LCD and really I would say looks a little worse I think.

I'm currently using the stock "cinema" settings, the things I changed being lowering the sharpness to zero and darkening the gamma a bit more. Now I don't expect top of the line blacks from the E550 series, but surely something at least better than an LG LCD?

My LG LCD blacks actually aren't terrible, they're pretty light during dark scenes but during brighter scenes letterbox and 4x3 bars look pretty decently deep, the bars actually looking better on the LG than the E550. For anyone familiar with LG LCDs, all the settings (backlight, contrast, sharpness, etc.) are on scales of 0 to 100; for my set I'm using the "cinema" setting with the backlight actually lowered very far down to 5, which is pretty low especially when most people and reviews recommend around 20-30 for the backlight, however it appears plenty bright in my small room at night with the lights out.

So I'm just not sure what's going on here? My room is about 10x10 feet and at night with the lights out is pretty much black. Given that it's a small room, could the actual light from the TV itself when turned on cause the blacks to wash out? (Since it's a small room, the light from the TV is sort of "trapped" so to speak, it can't dissipate out like in say a large basement or living room). Or could it be that the E550 is just such a larger and brighter set than my LG (like I said, 5 is a pretty low and dim setting for an LG LCD backlight) that I'm just not used to it? Whatever it is, the blacks just don't look good.

Anyway, I'm just kinda bummed because I decided about a year ago after paying off my TV that I was going to get a plasma because I wanted deeper black levels than my LCD. I hate the idea of having to return it, but I just may have to.

(I also really hate the way the screen will turn completely dark with nothing on, and then pop right back up the moment something is about to appear. For example, taking a look at Doctor Zhivago last night, between the overture and opening credits the screen turned off to a deep blank black, then a split second before the MGM lion comes on the screen pops back on. The same thing happened after the end of the credits and the opening of the film. Why does Samsung do this? Do they really think that by turning the screen off they're fooling us into thinking the TV has a deeper black than it really does? It's just annoying and distracting).




Buying a plasma is not only about black levels. It is all about smooth motion without ghosting and pixilation during fast action movies. This is why I converted to plasma from LCD. I will never go back, EVER!!! My old LCD drove me f-ing nuts. During a fast action movie, the screen would start to pixilate and make the people look funny on my TV. Never will I ever buy another LCD TV. I am going to go so far as to say I think there should be a law passed preventing companies from producing LCD TV's. And if you did produce an LCD, the punishment would be death. Just saying.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeBlow74 View Post

Buying a plasma is not only about black levels. It is all about smooth motion without ghosting and pixilation during fast action movies. This is why I converted to plasma from LCD. I will never go back, EVER!!! My old LCD drove me f-ing nuts. During a fast action movie, the screen would start to pixilate and make the people look funny on my TV. Never will I ever buy another LCD TV. I am going to go so far as to say I think there should be a law passed preventing companies from producing LCD TV's. And if you did produce an LCD, the punishment would be death. Just saying.

Well I know it's not ALL about black levels, but it's just that the black levels on this thing are not that good. When I compared an old 1.33:1 black and white film (which is actually quite a bit of my viewing habits, I'm an old movie buff) on my LCD to the new plasma, the black bars on the sides were quite a bit more noticeably greyer than my LCD.

As far as motion pixelation goes, it certainly happens a lot with sports on my LCD but I've never really cared. My primary use for my TV is watching movies in the dark, and I don't watch any fast-moving action movies so I've never had a problem with pixelation during movies.

I will admit that during bright or ordinary lighting scenes (anything but dark scenes) the plasma did have a beautiful texture to the image; I could tell it had that nice, more filmlike quality than my LG LCD. But man, when trying to watch Doctor Zhivago those letterbox bars stood out even in bright scenes; on my LCD black bars do a pretty good job of disappearing during bright scenes (not completely bezel-disappearing, but still pretty darn good).

I'm just kinda bummed. I'm considering returning to Best Buy, but I'm just nervous about transporting the thing over there, I'm afraid something will happen and I'll be stuck with a broken $1000 TV (Best Buy originally delivered it).
post #4 of 10
The lh40s had noticeably bad black level. I really don't know why you would see worse blacks on a plasma in a dark room unless there was something wrong with the tv or with settings. What are your settings at?
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbmannc View Post

The lh40s had noticeably bad black level. I really don't know why you would see worse blacks on a plasma in a dark room unless there was something wrong with the tv or with settings. What are your settings at?

I'm using the out-of-the-box "cinema" settings, with a minor change made to the gamma level (-2) and turning off any of the extraneous noise filter stuff. I tried lowering the cell light but that just made the overall picture bland and black bars actually appeared a bit grayer like that.

As far as my LG LH40, I have my backlight set VERY low, 5 out of LG's scale of 100 (from what I've seen most people like it around 20-30) and I think this helps out the black levels quite a good deal. That may sound very dim, but in my room with the lights off it's plenty bright.

Is it possible that the smallness of my room (10x10) could cause the light from the TV to, in a sense, get "trapped" in my room and then get absorbed by the panel? I've read that the color of one's walls can actually affect black levels because the light from the set reflects off the walls and back onto the screen. The E550 does not have a filter, so could this be my mediocre blacks?
post #6 of 10
Look up some settings for the tv. I have a Samsung Pn50b550 from 2009 and I thought the same thing. I was able to find some good calibration settings though and I really enjoy the set now.
post #7 of 10
If you wanted to fall in love then you should have waited at least until the end of the year and bought a better tv for the money. If you had waited, maybe you could have saved a little more cash to buy with too.

Now you know. If it were me, I'd send it back and wait. Buyer's remorse never really goes away.
post #8 of 10
Why are you trying to use the cinema mode?
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
OK, this TV is a lot better than my initial impressions. I guess I was just initially disappointed because going from an LG LCD to plasma I was expecting deep, inky blacks the minute I fired the thing up. While this TV by no means delivers that, it does deliver a far superior image to my LCD. Black levels do gradually rise and fall depending on screen content (this is known to happen with Samsung and LG plasmas, but from what I understand Panasonic blacks stay stable), and when the black level is at its highest I do think it is a touch lighter or just about the same as my LG, but when the black falls to its deepest it does deliver a much stronger shade of black. Dark scenes never fall into that deep, inky category but there is far more detail in dark scenes than what my LCD can do. And overall the picture has much more of that "filmic" texture than my LCD, which tends to look more like a sharp, clean digital image.

I had a buddy of mine come over and it was good to get someone else's opinion and not get too wrapped up and absorbed in my own. His point was that he could see my complaints about the black levels, but overall...it's a FREAKIN' AWESOME HUGE TV, lol.

I can accept the black levels now for what they are because the overall contrast and depth of the image is so much superior to my LCD. My only real beef with the thing now (and I do think it's a legitimate complaint) is Samsung's implementation of turning the screen off when fading to a completely black screen; there were several occasions when TV couldn't figure out if it wanted to completely shut off and so it would flicker back and forth several times. This may be a dealbreaker, just not sure yet.
post #10 of 10
If you need deeper blacks especially on the 50-51 size you need to get a panny ut, st or gt. Also you won't have to deal with the fade.
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