as promised, I report back: today, the cine4home-tuned Z4 arrived at my dealer's.
I had the chance to look at it for an hour with different material.
First, I have to make a disclaimer to eventual errors, that could have happened during the test.
We had two Z4s - one uncalibrated unit - I'll call it "Z4" here - (set to creative cinema / Kino hell), which was fed via YUV, the cine4home-one ("C4H") was fed from the same Denon DVD-Player via HDMI/DVI. So by covering up the lenses, we could "optically" switch between the both of them on the same screen. What could be of influence, though, are eventually different "Color responses" between YUV and HDMI/DVI. So this is no objective test in terms of perfectly similar conditions.
The room we tested in, is a cellar-room with no windows, walls are painted in a darker, reddish colour, ceiling is a dim white, floor is dark. Good conditions for black level, I guess...
Here are my observations:
First impression of the "C4H" was a wonderfully balanced picture. Skintones looked great on "Beggar Vance" and "LOTR II". Where on the Z4 Frodo looked a bit too "healthy" (without beeing sunburned or anything), C4H just seemed right on.
For my personal taste, the whole picture, even in daytime-scenes, was a bit too dim. I personally would have loved a bit of "spark" to the bright parts of the picture. Switching to Z4, I got that.(Note: from my home, I know, that even the default "Creative cinema" lacks the "spark" compared for example to ROnes setting, so where does that put C4H at my home??? Can't tell, until I saw it here - again: strictly personal taste - my taste must be off perfect adjustment!!!)
Black level: looking at darker parts of a normal daytime picture, the C4H had a slight bit more differentiation than the Z4. Gimly's "coat" looked a bit more natural and detailed ( a BIT!!!), another scene with Aragorn standing on top of a hill in front of the sky, his dark back of the coat had a little bit more detail.
The black bars on top and bottom of the 21:9 picture were noticeably blacker with the C4H than the Z4. The Z4 had a more greyish, washed-out attidude towards real black.
Whites: one major difference is the quality of the white. Z4 has a white with a slight blueish tendency - I would say, it tends towards "my detergent washes whiter than white"+"add some blacklight-white-discotheque-zing", whereas the C4H white is a bit more "eggshell".
Sky: Z4 is more my kind of thing in sky, with LOTR the sky seemed not all too blue on the C4HNOTE: since LOTR does use a distinct colour-scheme throughout the movie, please don't put too much weight upon the Sky-remark. I have not seen any "real sky"-DVD in that little test....
Observations with "Beggar Vance": C4H a bit dimmer, a tad more detail in dark clothing (jump to scene 10 and look at the people watching the players, especially the men in their dark suits). Greens not as saturated as with the Z4 - but I guess, the C4H is more "real" in that respect. Also, the Z4 tends to oversaturate brightnesses a bit and looses small amounts of detail, but again, gives the impression of a brighter picture.
We then put in the DVD "Robbie Williams at Royal Albert Hall". There, with the video-camera based material, the C4H had clear advantages: Skintones were just perfect, the Z4 showed more reddish faces, the whole picture looked fake with the Z4, whereas the C4H came across "live".
Then I adjusted the Z4 to the values, I copied from avbuzz (they are posted a few pages back in this thread). The picture of the Z4 got noticeably better with the Robbie-Williams-DVD, not as oversaturated and reddish, a slight correction with the colour-management on Robbie's skintone even improved it, but never was a match to C4H.
I made an interesting discovery in the scene, where Robbie sings the duet with that Saturday night live-host (or whoever that is, sorry, don't know him). In a closeup, Robbie looks to the right, you can see the right side of his face and the top of the wireless microphone. On the C4H, all is wonderfully balanced. On the avbuzz-Z4, the shadow thrown from his ear is dark-purple (C4H: darker skintone), the light's reflection on the black metal case of the mic is blueish (instead of blackish with the C4H).
Auto-Iris: since, as written in this thread, C4H seem to base their calibration on the dynamic setting, this involves some quite heavy iris-action (again: for my personal taste). A new scene stands unaltered for some seconds, then there is a slight "dimming", if the scene continues, then there is some sort of second step to even "heavier dimming". Both actions can clearly be seen - it looks, as if someone pulls the picture away from you and you feel drawn into...
If I could choose any preset with auto-iris-behaviour at all, then I'd go for creative cinema, which is not that heavy. Or - what we actually did toward the end - just shut auto-iris off and chose open iris.Just a quick insert: ROnes tweak were not appicable for that test - it was way too yellowish and would have needed a recalibration of the DVD-player to match PC-RGB levels, so no comparison possible here - sorry ROne, some other time, promised!
PETER FINZEL Test disc:
Pluge - C4H needed a few seconds of adjustment, then you could see the two small rectangles slightly appear in the upper, bright section. Steps between the four shades looked very evenly distributed. Before the auto-iris came in, no small rectangles, but grey and BTB-bar clearly visible, black background was more greyish than after auto-iris came in
Greyscale: the black bar right next to the "double-big" black bar on the far left was not distinguishable. After auto-iris came in (or was it before - sorry, I don't remember exactly) three steps of the greyscale were undistinguishable from the very left "double-big" one.
Whites were all visible, all the time, no matter before or after auto-iris.
BTB - the moving +4%, +2%, -2%, -4% patterns: Before auto-iris +2% as clearly visible, after it came in only +4% was visible. (should be: -2% hardy hardly visible)
WTW - all patterns were visible all the time (should be +2% hardly hardly visible)
Colour test with blue filter: that was strange, since with the filter, the portions of the test-pattern, that needed to match, did not, they were darker/brigther than the other one. But that may be due to the DVD-player not being properly putting out the signal, or the blue filter not being perfect or, or or.... So: just an observation with no conclusion - I guess, I should trust C4H&Colorfacts more in that regard than a blue filter....
My personal feeling is, that especially in the lower regions of brightnesses, the C4H is much more colour accurate than any non-filtered setting I have seen so far.
The dimmer picture is a matter of personal taste. For me personally, I would love to have an extra step of REAL brightness (I guess, that we then need to talk about LUMEN, right?)
If you are looking for a crash-bang-boom-impress-me-hugely picture, then you should take the filter off. If you like it the more natural way, then I guess you are right with the C4H-tuning. Go with the filter for "artsy movies" and take the filter off and choose a "heavy" preset, if you watch Star Wars and want the picture to match your subwoofer
Well, to be a bit more differenciated here: I also think, that LIVING with any of the presets / adjustments / calibrations is also letting you get used to it. Maybe, not having a comparision side by side always present, I would not miss the C4H-picture not being as bright as other calibrations but learn to value the real qualities of that tuning (quote from My Fair Lady: "I grew accustomed to her face"
). It's like with my HiFi: for best and most accurate reproduction, I have tuned my system with interconnects, loudspeaker-cables, the loudspeakers are exactly positioned, my CD-player is tuned and tweaked, my turntable is.... etc., but sometimes, in my car, I switch on loudness just for the fun of it...
I hope, I could give you a bit of a first (personal) impression on the C4H tuned Z4. Please, again, take it with a grain of salt - it's a quickly done observation, with personal taste involved.
To help you avoid searching, here are the avbuzz settings, that I used in this "test":
Color temp. Mid
Sharpness 0 (set it to your liking up to -6)
Lamp control A2
Lens iris -50
Lamp iris Auto
Auto black Strech Off
Contrast enhancement Off
Transient improvement L1 (or off)
Gain R -5
Gain G -9
Gain B +3
Offset R -15
Offset G +15
Offset B -2
Gamma R +5
Gamma G -5
Gamma B -3