Originally Posted by kerj
Alright--set to YCC4:4:4, black level at Low. I used the calibration disc, which actually had me set Brightness to 55 (higher than usual). Still having the same problems in overly-dark scenes.
That's because raising Brightness is not the solution to the problem. You may have been using the wrong Brightness setting, but you have a fundamental problem in some setting somewhere else. Either in the TV and cable/satellite box OR in the Blu-ray player but not in all 3 at the same time. Joel said the Blu-ray disc player is probably right because Sony's default settings are always correct out of the box on their Blu-ray players. If your cable/satellite box and TV are both set to full range RGB (0-255), black will look correct, but you Blu-ray disc player's blacks will look gray (because the default setting will send video at 16-235 which is what ALL your sources SHOULD be sending for consumer video. If the TV and cable/satellite box are set to 0-255, they expect black to be represented by digital level 0. If your Blu-ray player is sending black at digital level 16 (which it will with out of box default settings, black from the Blu-ray player will be 16 and never anything lower than that. That means black will be a shade of dark gray, not really black. WIth your setup, black has to be sent at digital 0 in order to look black. So you want to set the TV to YCbCr mode. By default, YCbCr is SUPPOSED to always be 16-235 so the Blu-ray player SHOULD look right. BUT, some TVs still have an active black level setting option when you select YCbCr mode (they should not do that, but sometimes they do). The black level settings are usually named expanded or full or enhanced or PC/computer to indicate 0-255 (what you do NOT want to be using) or normal, limited, standard, video or something like that to indicate 16-235. On some TVs, (most notably Samsung's) the black level control is labeled backwards and that confuses people considerably (as you might expect). When the TV, cable/satellite box, and Blu-ray player are all using the same settings, you should have the right black level from both cable/satellite and Blu-ray. Until you get those settings straightened out, you are going to continue having the problem you are describing and that you photographed. Your photo is a CLASSIC example of a 16-235 source (your Blu-ray disc player) being displayed on a TV set for 0-255 mode. No twiddling with the Brightness control will fix the problem you photographed.
Originally Posted by kerj
Maybe it's a gamma issue? I only have three options--"Low", "Medium", "High". Low makes things really bright, much lighter-grey in the blacks. Medium is what it's currently set on. High doesn't have much of a difference from Medium--maybe slightly. Wish there was more options there.
This is a classic case of not understanding gamma. Not a dig at you, most people who have not studied calibration and consumer video in general do not understand gamma at all. Gamma has nothing to do with black point or white point. You can change gamma all day long and your black point will never change, nor will your white point. What does change is how dark (or light) every point BETWEEN black and white is. High gamma numbers make everything darker between the black point and white point. Lower gamma numbers make everything between the black point and white point lighter/brighter. Your problem is that your black level (and white level, though that's not quite so obvious) is wrong when using the Blu-ray player. And unless you changed that setting in the disc player, we think it is more likely that you have the TV and cable/satellite box set to full range (0-255) even though you may not realize it.
Originally Posted by kerj
Also, in the calibration disc for White Clipping... moving from 0 to 100 doesn't change much. It's impossible to make some of the white bars invisible (the ones it's telling you should be invisible).
That is not unusual. Most test/setup discs fail to point out that some digital video displays NEVER clip white and you ALWAYS see all the steps from 235-254 no matter what Contrast setting you use. NO test/setup disc can help you determine the correct Contrast setting... all they can show you is whether the TV clips white or not (no steps visible above 235 is referred to as clipping white). And similarly, some digital video displays ALWAYS clip white at 235 no matter what Contrast setting you use. In fact, you have a pretty even chance of having 3 things happen when you view the so-called Contrast pattern on setup discs:
1) Above some Contrast setting, the TV clips white and you no longer see some or all of the steps between 235 and 254.
2) The TV never clips white no matter what Contrast setting you use - you always see every step from 235-254
3) The TV always clips white at 235 regardless of the Contrast setting - you never see any steps above 235
If any of these is more or less likely on newer TVs, I'd say #3 is getting less common than it used to be. None of those conditions tell you what the best Contrast setting is. But no setup disc will admit that. To know if your Contrast setting is correct, you really need a meter. Everything else is just guesswork. You COULD try to use eyestrain as an indicator of whether the Contrast setting is too high or not, but you'd have to view 2 or more hours of content then decide if you were feeling any eyestrain from squinting. If you did experience eyestrain, more than likely the Contrast setting is too high (best to do this test in a dark room and use a movie with a good mix of bright and dark scenes, if the movie is mostly dark, you'll probably never get eyestrain). If you reduce Contrast by 2 or 3 clicks, you then have to view another 2 hours or so of content before deciding if the picture is too bright. If you have a meter, we know that 30-40 fL is a comfortable light level in a dark room. 30 fL if the room is very dark, 40 fL if you have a light on or perhaps if you are using a bias light behind the TV.
Study what I've posted here... everything you need to solve your problem is likely to be in this message if you understand what I'm saying here.