Thanks to this forum, I have successfully calibrated my new TV. This is my first plasma TV and also the first time I had ever calibrated one. I come from photography world (not professional, just serious enthusiast), so I do have basic knowledge of color and display calibration. I do calibrate my computer monitor regularly but TV calibration is obviously not the same. TV calibration needs a lot of work going through the menu and a lot of adjustments, unlike monitor calibration, where the software automatically does most of the work for you. However, thanks to my basic understanding of color calibration, my transition into TV calibration was much easier after spending some time reading the calibration guides here. I think it would be helpful to somebody who is trying to do it yourself like I did by sharing my experience, especially for those who have the same or similar TVs as mine.
TV: LG 42PW350 720p 3D plasma
Sensor: Spyder3 colorimeter
Pattern disc: AVS HD709
My TV is an entry level, one of the least, if not the least expensive 3D TVs out there. However, I bought this TV with plan for proper calibration in mind so this TV fits me (and my budget) well as it was said to have ISF calibration ready modes. As I expected, it has 2 advanced picture modes called "expert 1" and "expert 2" with 20-point gray scale adjustment and CMS (saturation and hue controls for primary and secondary colors, I guess you call it 2-D CMS instead of full featured 3-D CMS). These advanced features allow me to do a full calibration and fine-tune the picture quality.
I was able to use my Spyder3 (Express version) colorimeter which I bought to used with a third party calibration software package for my computer monitors. It works well with ColorHCFR software. However, I had some problems with "spyder3.dll" file as many did. The file came in the driver CD was the new version and it didn't work with ColorHCFR, I had to find the older one.
The Spyder colorimeters are not recommended by many people here because of its accuracy and consistency. However, it has been reported that Datacolor changed their quality control process more than a year ago and the newer Spyder3 (made in the last year or so) has been much better. The folks at Dry Creek Photo recently tested and their findings seem to confirm this. They also found that the Spyder3 is now better than the i1Display2, based on their samples (17 units of i1Display2 and 12 Spyder3). Please check this link for more information about their test:
(The forum doesn't allow me to post URL to the test because I'm a newbie here, please do a Google search with "Display Calibration Hardware Capabilities", you'll find the test done by Dry Creek Photo)
So if anyone wants to calibrate but doesn't find spending 450 bucks for the cheapest Spectro (Colomunki) or nearly a grand for the i1Pro justified, getting a new copy of Spyder3Express for about 70 bucks might be a good idea. The Spyder3Express sensor are practically the same as those of more expensive Pro and Elite versions except the ambient light sensor which we don't use anyway. I have checked with Datacolor to confirm this. I got the Spyder3Express, just to get the sensor, and use it with a third party calibration software package because you can't do much with the Express software. But 70 bucks for the sensor, I don't think you can find any better option than that.
Working with 20-point gray scale was obviously not easy, especially for the first time DIY like me. However, after a series of trial-and-error attempts, I ended up with a workflow that I found efficient. I switched to 100% white and adjusted RGB channels first. When all of them were (or close to) 100% each, I recorded my luminance value and put this into an Excel spreadsheet. Then In Color HCFR, I went to Measure menu->Measure (or something like that, I don't remember exactly) to turn on the 20-point gray scale measurement mode (the default mode is 10 point gray scale). I then opened my luminance graph to see the reference curve (you won't see anything else because you haven't performed any measurement). It put mouse cursor over each point on the luminance reference curve at 0, 5, 10.....95% gray level to check the gray percentage. then record those numbers and put them into the same spreadsheet as the 100% luminance. Use these reference percentages and the 100% white luminance to calculate the reference luminance for each gray level of the gray scale. You'll need these number to do adjustment for a smoother gray scale curve.
After calculating all these luminance values, shifting through the 20-point gray scale to adjust one by one for RGB levels and the luminance. Try to adjust the luminance at each level (by adjusting all 3 channels up or down and retaining them at 100% level) close to the corresponding calculated values so your adjusted curve will be as close to the reference curve as possible. You may find adjusting at 0, 5%, or 10% pretty hard because the sensor can't really provide reliable measurements at these very dark levels. If you see the numbers jumping all over the place, you can skip and go to higher levels. By calculating the reference luminance based on the 100% white, I was able to make the gray scale curve of my TV smooth and bring it very close to the reference one.
Regarding color gamut, I switch it to "wide" instead of "standard" because I found the standard color gamut does not cover 100% of the HD709 color space. The wide gamut on my TV is actually much wider than the HD 709 standard so if you don't use CMS to shrink it and match HD 709, you'll see the much more saturated colors.
After spending a few hours with my new TV, the results were great. Although it's not perfect but I'm very happy with what I got and my inexpensive TV performs very well after my calibration effort. Please check the attached file for my calibration results.
If you have any idea to make my TV look better, I would appreciate that.
LG_42PW350_calibration.pdf 403.7880859375k . file