Are black levels really that important? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 17 Old 06-23-2019, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Are black levels really that important?

I was about to post this in the LCD forum but I'm trying to avoid a flame war. Basically what I'm trying to figure out is what gives OLED its superior picture quality? Is black level really the difference? I have always acknowledged that oled has superior picture quality but is blooming the end all be all?


I was in a high end electronic store yesterday viewing the OLED's next to top end LCD's. I feel like the oleds had a better picture even when they shouldn't have. Meaning in scenes that weren't totally dark. The best way I can describe this is that the picture of the OLED's seemed "Polished" while the picture on the LCD looked rougher. Almost as if someone polished all the rough edges out of the OLED picture. LCD's have come a long way and they are close but the Q90R was a small step below OLED. Keep in mind this is an LCD with black levels as good as they get for lcd.


When the discussion of black level deficiencies come up for LCD everyone focuses their attention on blooming. Basically blooming around letters and letterboxes. Does black level effect a bright scene that doesnt have a hard line against a dark object?
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post #2 of 17 Old 06-23-2019, 10:41 AM
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To me the answer is yes. Of course I came from a CRT SonyXBR910 to a Plasma Samsung F8400, and have a JVC LCOS projector. The kids TV's are LCD just for cost, but there has always been something about LCD's that just didn't look right to me. They look "artificial" to me compared to CRT/Plasma/OLED for whatever reason.

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post #3 of 17 Old 06-23-2019, 11:31 AM
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Its the greater contrast that black levels lends to PQ. Its not just black bars or any bright whites surrounded by deep blacks. Its dark color performance.

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post #4 of 17 Old 06-23-2019, 11:34 AM
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Yes, yes, yes, yes, and....YES. Very important.
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post #5 of 17 Old 06-23-2019, 12:55 PM
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It depends on the store. Unless you are in a store that has a relatively dark showroom, seeing the difference in black levels is pretty difficult. A lot of times stores are bright enough that reflections play a bigger role in the contrast than the panel's black levels do. The human eye also has a pretty limited contrast ratio, so it can be physically impossible to detect the difference if there is enough ambient light.

In a typical store environment, the factors that you are more likely to see are viewing angles, bright screen uniformity, and any differences in processing from the store demo modes. Viewing angles is the biggest one, which is probably one of the reasons why Sony and Samsung decided to sacrifice black levels for improved viewing angles on recent sets.
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post #6 of 17 Old 06-23-2019, 01:00 PM
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Short answer, YES. Without great black levels contrast, the most important element of picture quality is bad or mediocre at best.

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post #7 of 17 Old 06-23-2019, 02:39 PM
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Yes! Without perfect blacks and incredible contrast the picture will have no depth.

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post #8 of 17 Old 06-23-2019, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by convexmacrolabs View Post
It depends on the store. Unless you are in a store that has a relatively dark showroom, seeing the difference in black levels is pretty difficult. A lot of times stores are bright enough that reflections play a bigger role in the contrast than the panel's black levels do. The human eye also has a pretty limited contrast ratio, so it can be physically impossible to detect the difference if there is enough ambient light.

In a typical store environment, the factors that you are more likely to see are viewing angles, bright screen uniformity, and any differences in processing from the store demo modes. Viewing angles is the biggest one, which is probably one of the reasons why Sony and Samsung decided to sacrifice black levels for improved viewing angles on recent sets.



Thanks for all the replies. The showroom was dim for a showroom, not dark but dim enough that you could see a difference.



So basically the base black level effects the whole picture. The blooming is the most apparent to the eyes but there's a lot more going on on the pixel level on OLED. LCD's only chance in catching up is if the dual panel LCD works properly. I;m not an oled guy because of my habits but damn was the picture stellar!
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post #9 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 05:23 AM
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The lights must be out and your eyes must be used to darkness (no light pollution!), the TVs must be calibrated and the content must be a clean source that way you can make the best comparison. When comparing a OLED with a LCD with mediocre blacks in such condition you will see that the OLED picture has more depth and naturalness.

Some LCDs use backlit local dimming/zone dimming to improve blacks side effect of that is blooming. Since these LCDs have the best LCD blacks they are the ones that are often compared to OLED (which has perfect blacks).
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post #10 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 05:30 AM
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Yes! Black levels are the most important factor of image quality, along with the overall contrast (which is semi determined by the black level)

Then you have colour accuracy, colour saturation, resolution, greyscale accuracy, motion etc.
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post #11 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 06:02 AM
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Perfect blacks allow for great contrast even with low overall nit levels. Since most of content watched in a dark room (even in HDR) is best watched down in the 100nit range, good contrast is defined by the black level. Black level is just a measurement that helps define contrast. Even when true black isn't displayed, at low nit levels, high contrast between objects of all colors is not achievable by displays with high black levels.
A LCD can boast good contrast ratio numbers by high nit peaks, but in most content in typical home watching you are going dial down the peak of a LCD display so that contrast ratio is, in-effect, wasted. LCDs can have punchy contrast but only by driving the peaks to uncomfortable levels for dark room viewing. While HDR content on LCDs can benefit from the peak levels for highlights, it's the HDR non-highlight content that is mastered to low levels where black level is going dictate picture quality and peak white levels are irrelevant.
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Last edited by obveron; 06-24-2019 at 06:05 AM.
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post #12 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KD8118 View Post
Thanks for all the replies. The showroom was dim for a showroom, not dark but dim enough that you could see a difference.



So basically the base black level effects the whole picture. The blooming is the most apparent to the eyes but there's a lot more going on on the pixel level on OLED. LCD's only chance in catching up is if the dual panel LCD works properly. I;m not an oled guy because of my habits but damn was the picture stellar!
First, YES black levels are that important, it also helps that OLED's do (almost) everything else very well.
Second, I may be mis-reading, but blooming is an LCD issue, OLED's do not have any blooming.

Another point to consider, that most people have a misconception about. Bright LCD's really only shine (haha) with high APL content. Dark scenes with bright highlights are visually better (much better IMO) on OLED. A dark scene with a bright highlight an LCD manufacturer needs to make the choice of relatively dim highlights to avoid blooming and blowing out the black level in the area OR giving a very bright highlight, but blowing out the localized area. OLED can do full black and the next pixel beside it can be full bright, which gives dark scene highlights some REAL pop! High APL content on the other hand, think sunny outdoor shots, OLED's are limited in full field brightness compared to what BRIGHT LCD's can do.
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post #13 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 09:43 AM
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Think of a canvas with black base and painting bright colors on to of it. the black is important as it's the foundation of the painting. similar with an oled tv. oled can display peak highlights while keeping the black perfectly black. so oled highlights give better overall punch than lcd highlights despite peak highlights only going upto around 800 nits on oled. If a lcd fan says his tv does peak highlights upto 4000 nits, what he ignores is that , to display that 4000 nit highlight, his lcd has to significantly raise the black level.
In dark scenes, better black also gives more depth to the image. And blacks can also help with better color punch. Lg did a hdr video to demonstrate that pure black makes every color look better. This is the video, it's got very good color punch and this must be seen on an oled tv
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post #14 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 10:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plasma_fan View Post
First, YES black levels are that important, it also helps that OLED's do (almost) everything else very well.
Second, I may be mis-reading, but blooming is an LCD issue, OLED's do not have any blooming.

Another point to consider, that most people have a misconception about. Bright LCD's really only shine (haha) with high APL content. Dark scenes with bright highlights are visually better (much better IMO) on OLED. A dark scene with a bright highlight an LCD manufacturer needs to make the choice of relatively dim highlights to avoid blooming and blowing out the black level in the area OR giving a very bright highlight, but blowing out the localized area. OLED can do full black and the next pixel beside it can be full bright, which gives dark scene highlights some REAL pop! High APL content on the other hand, think sunny outdoor shots, OLED's are limited in full field brightness compared to what BRIGHT LCD's can do.

I didnt phrase that too clearly. What I was trying to say is that on an LCD they are trying to solve the visible blooming around letters and borders. This thread shed some light (Pun Intended) that it's a lot more than just that!



I agree with your assessment completely as different LCD manufacturers use different strategies on what they want to do with their black levels. Sony always chooses the path of more accuracy VS someone like Samsung that will alter accuracy for other benefits.


LCD's have come a long way and I thank OLED for pushing them to their limits! I had my hopes up for mini-led (Not Micro) but it seems like this will not bridge that final gap. My only hope now would be the dual panel LCD. I hope it pans out.
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post #15 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menarini View Post
Think of a canvas with black base and painting bright colors on to of it. the black is important as it's the foundation of the painting. similar with an oled tv. oled can display peak highlights while keeping the black perfectly black. so oled highlights give better overall punch than lcd highlights despite peak highlights only going upto around 800 nits on oled. If a lcd fan says his tv does peak highlights upto 4000 nits, what he ignores is that , to display that 4000 nit highlight, his lcd has to significantly raise the black level.
In dark scenes, better black also gives more depth to the image. And blacks can also help with better color punch. Lg did a hdr video to demonstrate that pure black makes every color look better. This is the video, it's got very good color punch and this must be seen on an oled tv
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuyyF4HN2a4



I've was always aware of the fact that OLED hangs so well with LCD due to this reason. I cant wait until we have the technology to give us pure blacks next to thousands of nits!
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post #16 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 11:52 AM
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The effect on color and contrast in a busy image full of objects and colors can be subtle to my eye. But what isn't subtle is this. . .

When things emerge out of blackness (titles, logos, or actual film content), do I want them emerging out of true inky blackness or a glowing grey?

I hate seeing things emerge out of glowing grey.
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post #17 of 17 Old 06-24-2019, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menarini View Post
Think of a canvas with black base and painting bright colors on to of it. the black is important as it's the foundation of the painting. similar with an oled tv. oled can display peak highlights while keeping the black perfectly black. so oled highlights give better overall punch than lcd highlights despite peak highlights only going upto around 800 nits on oled. If a lcd fan says his tv does peak highlights upto 4000 nits, what he ignores is that , to display that 4000 nit highlight, his lcd has to significantly raise the black level.
In dark scenes, better black also gives more depth to the image. And blacks can also help with better color punch. Lg did a hdr video to demonstrate that pure black makes every color look better. This is the video, it's got very good color punch and this must be seen on an oled tv
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuyyF4HN2a4
Fantastic. This will help me with my comparison Z9G (4000 nits) vs C9 (800-ish nits).

happyness ;>)
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