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Anyone NOT satisfied with ISF Calibration

1140 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  R Harkness
I'm curious - given the cost of an ISF calibration isn't cheap (well maybe relatively speaking), has anyone even thought that they didn't get their money worth? I've never seen one post anywhere from anyone saying it wasn't worth it or that they didn't see a noticeable difference.

Anyone unhappy out there?
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You'll probably have a hard time finding anyone who is willing to admit they're not happy even if that's the case. I have read comments from people who feel that ISF colors are muted and not vibrant. I've also seen comments by ISF calibrators who have had customers change their settings when they finish the job.
I haven't and wouldn't touch my settings. I Love the results of my Calibration.

Hitachi 65XWX20B calibration performed by Bill Gambrel
Let me go out on a limb and answer your question with a - "It depends."

If you are starting with a set right out of the box with no tweaking (AVIA, Video Essentials, convergence, set-up menus, inputs, cables, etc.) - yes, you will notice a HUGE improvement with a good ISF calibration.

If you have done some tweaking AND know what you are doing - the ISF calibration will still provide a nice and noticeable improvement. This is because they have the proper equipment and training to analyze and adjust grey scale and high definition inputs that users do not have. Additionally most ISF techs have done numerous (or hundreds) of sets and have better experience with difficult geometry and convergence issues.

Of course this all depends on choosing a good ISF tech to start with. Get references.

I had a fairly good tweaked Mitsu 55" set that I had professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen - a true master. I noticed a big difference when he did the I2C fix to adjust the color decoder. He also goes well beyond the "normal" ISF calibration with the things he does. Finally, the simple removal of the glare screen provided a very significant improvement.

I have very high expectations - and I consider it money well spent. YMMV.
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Anyone have any recommendations on a good ISF tech in So. Calif?
There are some really great specialists up and down the state, depending on what type of set you have, I could recommend someone, or perhaps service you myself. I limit my traveling calibrations to fixed pixel displays (dlp, lcd, plasma, etc.), as they conform pretty well, in terms of time to completion, which is almost always under four hours. To do a full tilt job on a CRT can easily double that, so I prefer to be within an hour or so of home for those customers.
Im planning on getting the Panny 50lc13 within the next two weeks....live in Fullerton to be exact, only 370 miles from ya =). Would love a recommendation tho.
Gatoreye- You will most certainly find someone who is unhappy out there. It will do well to understand the difference between science and preference, and where they both fit in a calibration. The first benefit of a calibration is the science. It is no secret that video display devices use a standard color of gray, that is 6500K. If this is the reference that they use when creating video, it is what we must use to accurately recreate it. Any divergence of this is not accurate regardless of someones individual tastes. To do this correctly it requires the proper equipment for that display, which is usually quite expensive. There are many other benefits that an experienced tech can offer, that can often produce an even bigger benefit, such as mechanical focusing.

Aside from these things that can be backed up quantitatively, there are other adjustments that are subjective. Many sets have a terrible color decoder, and as such, cannot be trusted by adjusting with a SMPTE color bar pattern and blue filter, like you find with Avia or video essentials. After ballparking it that way, it usually requires some good closeups of peoples faces to set the final color adjustment. So I will usually set this with input from the customer, but also offering my own experience as someone who has a lot of experience in looking at a reference picture. But in the end, the final few clicks can certainly vary from individual to individual, and even from TV channel to channel unfortunately. So you will most certainly hear of those that have continued to tweak the user settings in search of their own utopia, and I encourage it, knowing they can always return it to where we originally set it. These types of adjustments don't make much of a difference to the color temperature, as color temp is based on the gray scale, and adjusted via internal settings. As such, there is not much of an effect on color temp, regardless of their preference for the color introduction setting.

But in answer to your question,

The only time I have really heard of an UNhappy customer, was a situation where they had no idea of what it was, but they ordered one up anyway because they thought it would be magical. As it turns out, all they were hoping for was that some of the cable channels would come in better (less snow). They never bothered asking the calibrator what was involved, and the calibrator just assumed that the customer knew since the customer was the one inquiring. There is no magic, only science. Garbage in is garbage out.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I thought your post might elicit negative posts, and I wanted to qualify it.
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Starman, I have sent you a PM for a referral
I talked to one person who had his set ISF calibrated who was unhappy. What he described was nothing more than user menu adjustments using Avia. I would get a clear description of what was included along with the tools (color analyzer, optical comparator, spectral radiometer, filters...) to be used and his/her experience with your particular set.
Is there a price difference between calibrating a CRT RPTV and a fixed pixel display?

It's less time consuming with a fixed pixel display. There are no convergence and geometry to adjust.
The pricing can vary depending on what you need. Many just offer a basic ISF type calibration, which can be just fine, as long as they are using the proper equipment. But many go beyond that, and on a CRT, there are a ton of extra options that can be done, like lens striping, cabinet lining, mechanical focus, etc. Whether your set needs all these things or not is usually determined with test material. And geometry problems can take up a lot of time as well. So in some areas you save time, however, with these Fixed Pixel Displays you must spend extra time in getting the grayscale to step linearly, and to achieve a good gamma curve. So if you are just doing a basic type of calibration, It's a full cal for an FPD, and in this case an FPD usually takes longer than a CRT. When looking for a good calibrator of FPD's, look for someone that has been trained on setting these up, and doing signal path calibration. The typical training for this would be from Joe Kane Productions (JKP), Jim Burnes' Fixed Pixel Display (FPD) course, or the Runco factory training program. The technician will also need to have an all display colorimeter or better yet, a spectroradiometer. The best of these, will provide the customer with detailed documentation of the pre and post data. I now use the ColorFacts software because it prints out this pre and post data in an easy to read graphical representation, which the customer can immediately understand without me explaining a word.
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There are a minority of AV enthusiasts (as opposed to inexperienced JSPs) who do not care for the look of D6500, and other picture parameters as rendered by an ISF calibration. But they certainly are in the minority.

I have been unhappy with my ISF calibration in that I ended up preferring my own settings over those arrived at by the ISF tech. But I'm pretty glad I did it, just for the learning experience, and to have those settings as a reference.

A big point of departure here is that I own a plasma. There is less for an ISF tech to tweak on plasmas, as opposed to RPTVs, especially CRT RPTVs, that give a tech more parameters to improve upon from the factory set-up.

It is very rare that I read an RPTV owner who does not care for the results of an ISF calibration, and most people rave about the positive difference.

So, even though ISF calibration wasn't for me and my display, I'd advise anyone with a CRT RPTV to get it adjusted and tweaked by a pro. Given all the happy customers, it just seems worth the chance.
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