i just spent a pleasant afternoon at the Rubin abode.
On the drive over, I concerned myself with the perils of the upcoming comparison which might leave me wanting to convert my pioneer into a fujistsu. Walking into Mark's display room underscored the concern. But this was a first impression, and as the tweaking went on, my concerns were tempered.
The F does have blacker blacks, seen by comparing IRE patches, background (when 2.35 material is displayed) and image details.
After tweaking brightness and contrast settings for both displays, the F still remained blacker by perhaps a full 10 IRE step. Detail resolution in the shadows, 20-30 IRE range, was virtually identical. The highlight settings were also so similar we could not distinguish a difference. This was after extensive user menu tweaking.
On the other hand, my opinion was that the color rendition was smoother on the pioneer, seen best in facial tone transitions which tended to be a bit too abrupt (contrasty, in a photgraphic sense) on the F. the color saturation seemed better on the P as well, particularly in more dimly lit condtions. (Faces in Gladiator pre-dawn battle scenes looked brighter and with more color in the P and not un-naturally so.) on the other other hand, less bright scenes with the P tended to have a slight veiled appearance compared to the F.
Color balance seemed off to me on both sets, even though the P had been calibrated by Cliff. there was a sort of beige/sepia tonal quality to the grey scale and this slightly affected pure whites in normal material. This might be viewed as a greenish tint, but it seemed more brown than green. The F however was purple-ish, definitely higher temp than 6500 and in need of a grey scale adjustment (the purple was more or less pronounced in different brightness ranges). we played with rgb balance and got the F to be quite close to the P for flesh tones in medium to strong light, but the overall image still tended to be purple. The P was overall better balanced for color temp and grey scale, except for the sepia tendency mentioned above.
We put on one of my favs, Roy Orbison in concert, all B/W. the F was almost purple black and super white, while the P was more sepia. both were off, though the F was more acceptable.
Bottom line: the F has built in HDCP and better blacks for an extra $2,000.
side by side, as viewed, the F might be more compelling due the apparantly larger dynamic range, but also sided by side, that purple wasn't right. assuming calibration can correct the purple of the F and the sepia of the P, its a close call. If you didn't see the two side by side you would love either one. If you weren't able to tweak each set, either one could show poorly.
as far as converting my P to an F...the jury is still out. I played Roy on my rig and it is definitely not sepia or greenish and its not cold black and white either, but I don't have the purple black F sitting next to it.
To reiterate, either of these displays looked great, but the side by side tended to exacerbate differences: cold purple black and more of it will make sepia look wrong, right or wrong.
edit note: we looked for a pattern as far as video noise, but when not looking at a frozen frame (which produces its own anomalies), and after setting brightness levels ith the black bars on avia, I had no issues. I realize some of these obsevations contradict Ken's, however, we did extensive modding and tweaking from the way the set was when I arrived today.
One last note: the F is sensitive to its sharpness setting. At the 0 setting, the "edge enhancement effect" was there, and I preferred a -5 setting. The image may seem more 3-D with the setting higher, but upon close inspection (12" away) you can see the white fringing at contrast break points in the image. Lessened sharpness take a bit to get used to, but most people prefer the naturalness of it once they adjust to the apparent loss of contrast (an artifact I would just as soon do away with)