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post #1231 of 1868
Review: Samsung PN-64F8500 plasma


When I arrived at Cleveland Plasma to check out this latest beauty from Samsung, Chris could barely contain himself as he told me of the excitement the F8500 has been generating online. Big improvements over last year's E series were expected, and specifics were just beginning to trickle in. I was appreciative of Samsung's previous lines, though I admit feeling somewhat let down at the E series' limited brightness and lack of substantial improvement over the D series. Chris said it looked like the F series was going to change all that, and he was right on the money.

This is an attractive TV, with a narrow pewter bezel, slim profile, and a tiny, top mounted Skype camera. The remote is a small but solid-feeling clickable touchpad device.

The screen soaks up ambient light very well. With very bright ceiling lights on, reflections were dark and well suppressed. I could see myself looking at the screen with some effort, but my reflection appeared to be a mostly featureless silhouette.

I could hear a small amount of buzzing very close to the screen, though by about a 6 foot distance the whirring of a Blu Ray player masked the slight buzzing with most content. Some bright test patterns, like the ANSI checkerboard pattern, generated a little more buzzing that was audible from 8 or 9 feet. This can vary from one set to the next, but it is safe to say it will not be an issue on this sample.

The viewing angle is perfect from side to side, and as long as you don't stand close to a F8500 that is on the floor you shouldn't be bothered by any dimming in the vertical direction.

Before calibration:

Standard

The F8500 initially defaults to Standard mode, which looked a bit etched and artificially enhanced. Pans had the uber-smooth soap opera feel, though at times motion broke up and appeared choppy. Despite the fact that still images looked excessively grainy, it appeared that strong noise reduction was at work with moving images, making them smoother but somewhat smeared. The picture lacked stability, with brightness pumping and flashing apparent at times. Colors were vibrant and fairly pleasing, though not quite lifelike and natural. Whites appeared bright, bluish, and somewhat flat; and brightly lit faces were overexposed and suffered from a caked on makeup look. Deep blacks and fairly good shadow detail hinted of good things to come, but this display's as-delivered state hardly puts it's best foot forward.

Relax

Relax was quite similar to Standard, though without the overexposed look. Colors popped and skin tones were not as offensive as one might expect, though the overall look was more subdued and “doctored” than realistic.

Movie

Colors, which were respectable in the previous modes, improved quite a bit by switching over to Movie mode. They appeared much more realistic, though perhaps a bit pale in overall balance. In addition, the picture gained brightness and pop, and realism took a leap forward. However, depth could be a bit lacking, and whites had a bit of an off-white or greenish tinge. At times, I thought I glimpsed hints of the dirty screen effect, in which bright panning objects appeared smudged or dirty until they stop moving. Though to a much smaller degree than in the two previous modes, graininess with still images and glazed over motion were visible. Stability, contrast, and shadow detail were impressive. It appeared that Movie mode has some great qualities, though it was not quite seductively rich or lifelike yet.

Dynamic

Ugh... With it's cartoonish colors and gaudy whites, Dynamic wore thin in a hurry. However, it was bright and punchy, which will appeal to some at least in the short term.

Tweaks

A few simple things can be done by anyone to bring out significantly more performance in Movie mode. Turning sharpness down to half or less of it's starting position will reduce graininess, and with 1080 HD sources changing the Picture Size from 16:9 to Screen Fit will improve sharpness and eliminate overscan. In Picture options, changing Color Tone from Warm2 to Warm1 alleviates the off white and greenish tinge, and turning off the other various “enhancements” found there will increase the accuracy of the picture. Finally, in the advanced settings, reducing gamma to -1 eliminated a slightly flat sensation. Later, after examining the measurements, I was surprised at this since gamma was already quite high, but I did feel it made an improvement short of a more complete calibration with the aid of test equipment. After making these simple changes, without the aid of test patterns of any kind, the F8500's performance improved significantly. Thus configured and viewed in a light controlled room, the F8500 is a real head turner.

Black levels

The richness of blacks and contrast is arguably the toughest test for any display, and traditionally a good plasma will outperform a conventional LED in that regard. While last year's E series took a timid step forward, there is no doubt the F8500's blacks take a more confident leap ahead. In Movie mode's picture options, a selection called Black optimizer does seem to make the blacks darker when set to Dark room. In that setting, the black level, which appeared excellent before, improved even further; coaxing what appears to be state of the art black level performance out of the F8500. Do the blacks appear illuminated with the lights out in the Dark room setting? Yes; not even the last run of Elite Kuros could claim otherwise. However, the F8500 is so good that nearly any significant picture content made the blacks appear extremely or even totally devoid of light, which is a significant accomplishment. Bright objects appear to come out of a velvety, inky black background. However, the extra darkness comes at the price of stability. Later testing revealed that Dark room caused dynamic fluctuation of the blacks, so it will be a judgment call on whether to take advantage of that circuitry.

Black levels were measured with a C6 meter profiled with a Jeti 1211 reference spectro to the F8500.

Black level measured .0069 fL with Black optimizer off and a 1080P/60 source. With the Black optimizer set to Dark room or Auto, it measured .0025 fL. With 1080P/24 and cinema smooth on, black level was .0072/.0025 fL, which is not significantly different. With Black Optimizer set to either auto or Dark room, Movie mode's modified ANSI contrast ratio was 7436:1, at 34.95/.0047 fL. That was further evidence of some black level floating, as the black level on a dark screen was significantly lower than black level of the checkerboard. Because of this fluctuating black level in the Dark room setting, I made the decision to do the calibration in Movie mode with the Black optimizer off. As calibrated, with Black optimizer off, the modified ANSI contrast ratio measured 6034:1, at 38.62/.0064 fL.

Calibration

After going into the service menu, I opened up the Cal-Day and Cal-Night modes, which are normally not present in the TV's menu. In a departure from previous Samsungs, these modes, before calibration, produced one of the worst, most peculiar pictures I've seen yet on a modern plasma. After resetting some curiously strange settings, things looked much, much better.

The F8500 is a light output heavyweight, breaking records in my experience for large plasmas. Light output could have been as high as 58 fL after calibration in Movie mode, though I backed that down to about 51 fL after viewing some program material. Cal-Day could be calibrated up to an astonishing 84.1 fL, but otherwise behaved similarly to Movie mode once the proper groundwork was laid. The light output with a 100% full white screen was a super strong 23.4 fL. Cal-Day could reach well into the 40's with the ANSI checkerboard pattern, which is a record in my experience. These are wonderful numbers for hockey fans, because the F8500 will maintain brightness better when showing a bright rink than any other plasma I know of. It's also great news for those who have brighter rooms, because the F8500 will remain punchy when other plasmas begin to look bland.

Calibration of Movie mode was straightforward, until I got to the CMS adjustment. In the past year, thanks to advances in software capability, I've transitioned from calibrating only fully saturated colors to focusing more on 75% saturations at 75% luminance, which gives a better approximation of real world picture content. With the F8500, it's just not possible to accurately calibrate the CMS at 75% saturation; it's color gamut shrinks as saturation is reduced. I ended up targeting somewhere in between the old standard of 100% saturation/75% luminance and 75% saturation/75% luminance. What I got was a perfectly acceptable compromise, with all color saturation delta errors below about 2, but with slightly pale shades below full purity.

Unlike the E series, the F8500 goes blue the more load is placed on the ABL circuitry by progressively larger measurement windows. This is subjectively more pleasing than the more earthy tone the E series exhibited with bright scenes. In my estimation, good window sizes to use for calibration seem to be either 5% conventional windows or approximately 18% APL windows.

With a 1080P/24 signal and Cinema Smooth engaged, my meter synced at around 96 Hz.

Cinema Smooth caused a significant shift in gamma and white balance, adding an average of 3 dE to the grayscale run. Because of this, it may be desirable to either send a Blu Ray signal to a dedicated input, put up with some motion judder by leaving Cinema Smooth off if you're not much of a movie watcher, or calibrate with Cinema Smooth on and let TV content be a bit less accurate.

After calibration:

How does the F8500 look after all the tweaks have been made? Majestic, with bright scenes oodling pop and excitement like I've never seen on a large plasma. It's textures are smooth, devoid of graininess. Colors look very lifelike, but on the polite side of accurate. Blacks and contrast are excellent, though not a substitute for the late, great Kuro king. The black bars are just visible with letterbox movies, but only in a dark room. Because of the way bright objects change our perception, the bars tend to be more visible with dark movie scenes than bright ones. Shadow detail is superb, looking correct in intensity and neutral in color. Resolution and sharpness are as good as I've seen.

I've calibrated many Panasonic 65VT50s, with the last one being just a couple of days ago. Though I did not have one available for a side by side comparison, I know it extremely well and can give impressions of how it and the F8500 compare.

Compared to the VT50 calibrated in the normal fashion of ISF Day using mid panel brightness, the F8500 is punchier in bright scenes. It is also a bit smoother, especially up close. The VT50 has slightly superior color accuracy, though it looks a bit more “hot” and colored with skin tones than the F8500's more relaxed color palette. If you are easily offended by the sunburnt look skin tones have on many displays, the F8500's less saturated but still seductive colors will be like a soothing balm on your eyes. The VT50's blacks are superior, though subjectively they appear extremely close. Dark movie scenes in dark rooms may show the VT50's slightly superior blacks. Motion quality will depend on if you use Cinema Smooth or not, but I prefer the VT50's motion overall. The F8500's edge in brightness makes it superior in slightly brighter rooms or if you just like brighter images.

The F8500 is a winner, with special appeal to lovers of bright and punchy images. It's color was very natural and easy on the eyes, and over all it's performance keeps pace with the very best.



Samsung 64F8500 movie.pdf 1346k .pdf file
Samsung F8500_1.zip 2168k .zip file
Edited by Chad B - 3/26/13 at 7:53am
post #1232 of 1868
I'm start to reading now but first i want to thank Chad B and Cleveland Plasma smile.gif
post #1233 of 1868
Now I am off to read Kevin's review. wink.gif
post #1234 of 1868
Thanks so much for the review, looks like the ZT60 it is for me.
post #1235 of 1868
Well after I read a Great Review by Chad B like always...my conclusion is if i have a bright room and want brightness...go for F8500 and it has great blacks too but if i watch tv in a dark room and the day performance until now is unknown...ZT60 is my option.
post #1236 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slickman View Post

Thanks so much for the review, looks like the ZT60 it is for me.
Same. 2 steps forward, 1 step back (fluctuating blacks, no thanks).

Thanks, Chad.
post #1237 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinnie97 View Post

Same. 2 steps forward, 1 step back (fluctuating blacks, no thanks).

Thanks, Chad.

Vinnie maybe they fix the issue
post #1238 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad B View Post

Now I am off to read Kevin's review. wink.gif

Great review Chad.

Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2
post #1239 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by agkss View Post

Vinnie maybe they fix the issue
Yes, Samsung likes to let the consumer beta test, how could I forget? wink.gif Though, they are hardly alone in this.

What is notable is the 64" with the above colorimeter showed poorer blacks than achieved in the smaller panel measured by Kevin Miller (I'm more inclined to believe this is due to the different equipment used, but which one is more accurate?). Chad found the VT50's black level superior (which is opposite of what Kevin Miller found), so I'm not sure what to think. More corroboration is needed, but preliminarily speaking, perhaps the trend of better BLs in the larger panels has been reversed (stability would be ideal).
Edited by vinnie97 - 3/26/13 at 1:58am
post #1240 of 1868
A Klein K-10A VS C6...I don't have idea
Maybe we have to wait to cnet review too.
Edited by agkss - 3/26/13 at 2:18am
post #1241 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Ross View Post

It's kind of odd, I get this as an 'untrusted' site. I've known Kevin for years and trust him as well as his reviews explicitly. smile.gif

It's just the https certificate, not a browser check. Just change "https" to "http" in the url and the warning is gone. smile.gif
post #1242 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glashub View Post

LOL -- So much for all of the measurments we get caught up in - "I did a direct comparison between a fully calibrated TC-P65VT50 and the PN60F8500, and subjectively the two panels looked identical. Color and skin tone rendition looked exceptional on both, and bright and dark material all looked exactly the same."

Yet the Sammy out measures the VT.

Subjectively it will be extremely hard to tell the difference between two reference/near-reference displays without running through exhaustive serious of tests, which takes more than just a few hours.

It's hard to see the difference between 0.001 ft-L and 0.002 ft-L in a typical dark, shadow heavy scene. Ever noticed how even in a dark letterbox scene, often you can, without too much trouble, still pick out the picture in the middle from the black bars on a display with great blacks? The average pixel luminance in the picture is still well above black, and at the end you are looking at something that is several hundred times brighter than an all-black screen. Your eyes will simply have trouble picking up the difference if you just scan over the picture.

To more easily see a difference, you have to stare at where the picture meets a large area of actual black, for example where the actual content meets the letterbox bars. Or you can look at where the letterbox bar meets the bezel, assuming the bezel is dark. Even then, it will be subtle.

In other words, a typical dark scene lacks enough "black" to make the difference between those two black levels discernible. Performance in those scenes lies mostly in the ability to calibrate and get an accurate gamma in that range. The black levels on both displays offer enough headroom for an accurate gamma in that range, so the end result is something that looks very similar on both displays if the gamma itself is correct.

A difference of 0.001 ft-L is more easily seen in a side-by-side comparison when playing content that is predominantly true black or very close to true black. This is generally not seen in actual content, except for fireworks, space, end credits, and Kuro demos. However, these are scenes where ANSI contrast matters, and according the review, the F8500 does not exceed the VT50.

The difference between 60 Hz and 96 Hz mode on a VT50 is approximately 0.0005 ft-L. It is very difficult to discern the difference in black levels in a shadow heavy scene. Even when staring at the difference between the black bars and the bezel, the difference of 0.0005 is at most, very subtle. I don't expect a difference of 0.001 ft-L to be easily seen either. However, the difference is much more easily seen with either an all-black, or near all-black scene with high contrast spots.
post #1243 of 1868
Kevins review give a clear nod to F8500 while Chad´s seems to favor the old VT50 if we use it for mostly dark rooms frown.gif

I hope F8500 gets better with more reviews otherwise VT60 or ZT is the only ones left.
post #1244 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by agkss View Post

A Klein K-10A VS C6...I don't have idea
The Klein is more sensitive for reading blacks, though the C6 is capable at this level and Panasonic 50 series level.
post #1245 of 1868
Oh well...guess I will wait for the zt.
post #1246 of 1868
So what that review means? ZT60 will be better overall? F8500 isnt better than VT50 overall? I am confused...
post #1247 of 1868
I think it means all three are reference quality and if calibrated would be hard to tell the difference. But if you need extra brightness, the 8500 is the better option. Also means the VT50 is a great bargain now. And probably the ZT60 will be the new reference?
post #1248 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad B View Post

Now I am off to read Kevin's review. wink.gif

Chad, with increased brightness in Cal Day the black level rose too?
post #1249 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by superbooga View Post

Subjectively it will be extremely hard to tell the difference between two reference/near-reference displays without running through exhaustive serious of tests, which takes more than just a few hours.

It's hard to see the difference between 0.001 ft-L and 0.002 ft-L in a typical dark, shadow heavy scene. Ever noticed how even in a dark letterbox scene, often you can, without too much trouble, still pick out the picture in the middle from the black bars on a display with great blacks? The average pixel luminance in the picture is still well above black, and at the end you are looking at something that is several hundred times brighter than an all-black screen. Your eyes will simply have trouble picking up the difference if you just scan over the picture.

To more easily see a difference, you have to stare at where the picture meets a large area of actual black, for example where the actual content meets the letterbox bars. Or you can look at where the letterbox bar meets the bezel, assuming the bezel is dark. Even then, it will be subtle.

In other words, a typical dark scene lacks enough "black" to make the difference between those two black levels discernible. Performance in those scenes lies mostly in the ability to calibrate and get an accurate gamma in that range. The black levels on both displays offer enough headroom for an accurate gamma in that range, so the end result is something that looks very similar on both displays if the gamma itself is correct.

A difference of 0.001 ft-L is more easily seen in a side-by-side comparison when playing content that is predominantly true black or very close to true black. This is generally not seen in actual content, except for fireworks, space, end credits, and Kuro demos. However, these are scenes where ANSI contrast matters, and according the review, the F8500 does not exceed the VT50.

The difference between 60 Hz and 96 Hz mode on a VT50 is approximately 0.0005 ft-L. It is very difficult to discern the difference in black levels in a shadow heavy scene. Even when staring at the difference between the black bars and the bezel, the difference of 0.0005 is at most, very subtle. I don't expect a difference of 0.001 ft-L to be easily seen either. However, the difference is much more easily seen with either an all-black, or near all-black scene with high contrast spots.

Thank you for taking the time to write that.
post #1250 of 1868
Thank you to Chris, Chad B., Robert and Kevin for putting integrity ahead of sales and relationships. I appreciate the fair and balanced reporting.
post #1251 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvrw2 View Post

Chad, with increased brightness in Cal Day the black level rose too?
Black level was the same for Cal-Day. smile.gif
post #1252 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glashub View Post

Thank you to Chris, Chad B., Robert and Kevin for putting integrity ahead of sales and relationships. I appreciate the fair and balanced reporting.

+1

Correct me if I'm wrong but bottom line for us 50" lcd/plasma peeps is the Samsung PN51F8500 is THE best 50" TV bar none including what is expected to come out throughout the year??
If there was a 50" ZT60 we'd have to wait and see the comparisons but that's a moot point so its game-set-match for us... Nice job guys for the unbiased reviews, for me its the best of both worlds for my personal preference, reference blacks and led brightness.. damn,
The 60-65" guys can battle it out from now on but I believe for us lowly 51" guys the fat lady has sung smile.gif
I can see the 51F8500 already being everyone's "Best 50" TV" by any and all reviewers..

If I wasn't flying to the west coast for Easter week tonight I'd be ordering a 51F8500 right now!!

Now back to your regularly scheduled F8500/ZT60/VT50 discussions biggrin.gif
post #1253 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad B View Post

Black level was the same for Cal-Day. smile.gif

Great!

One more... what is the exact brightness value in CAL Day during ANSI test? You said "40s"..

I imagine all your work to calibrate, but you don't plan on calibration using Black Optimizer? It's where the black gets its best.

Thank you for all your effort!
Edited by dvrw2 - 3/26/13 at 6:17am
post #1254 of 1868
Hey chad b. thanks for the review. Do you think the increased brightness will increase chances for burn in?
post #1255 of 1868
all i know is the mll seems to be consistently higher on Chad's meter and lower on Kevin's. i guess that's the difference of the two measuring devices. i just wish i knew which one tells the truer story.
post #1256 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvrw2 View Post

Great!

One more... what is the exact brightness value in CAL Day during ANSI test? You said "40s"..

I imagine all your work to calibrate, but you don't plan on calibration using Black Optimizer? It's where the black gets its best.

Thank you for all your effort!

44 fL on the ANSI checkerboard with Cal-Day mode close to maxed out.
Black Optimizer didn't change the measurements much if any. It would be OK to turn it back on, you'd still have a calibrated picture.
post #1257 of 1868
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thelt2000x View Post

Hey chad b. thanks for the review. Do you think the increased brightness will increase chances for burn in?
Ordinarily yes, but I saw so little IR from my test patterns that I believe the F8500 is quite resilient in that regard. But I would use caution if you use Cal-Day mode just to be safe.
post #1258 of 1868
The tests, Kevin and Chad, are in conflict at some points, but more different is in brightness during ANSI test. The brightness value in ANSI Checkerboard are much different. Kevin said the F8500 it's lower than a VT50 (24fl vs 33fl), but Chad measured 38.62 (F8500) vs 20.95 (VT50). mll varies according to the equipment used, but the brightness does not change much.
post #1259 of 1868
Chad B's review contains the level of detail that I'm interested in.

Don't know about any of the other DIY calibrators, but the idea of trying to split the difference between 75% and 100% saturation and luminance sounds like a complication that I'd rather not get involved in.
post #1260 of 1868
Great review, Chad. Thanks. Looking forward to having you out to calibrate whichever display I end up getting this year.
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