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Is my 42" ED 7UY a lemon or are they all 'black" challenged

1844 Views 28 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  johnnymg

I've had my 7UY for about a month and can't figure out why the black levels suck sooooooo bad.

Viewing conditions are at night with all lights out in the room. I have the brightness way down at -20 and pic at -6. I've tried setting the brightness to the absolute lowest level and the 'glow' is still there. I don't notice the 'glow' during daytime viewing or if I turn the lights on in the viewing room.............. but I never use the display except at night with the lights out. The screen 'glow' is most noticeable during dark scenes.

***** Is this 'lack of deep blacks' a characteristic of plasma displays or is there something wrong with my display?? :confused: :mad:

BTW: pic "quality" (other than this black issue) is VERY good. Using a Zenith 318 as the input source on component. Before I resort to background lighting I'd like to see if the display can be "fixed".

Sorry for the rant-like post. :eek:

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The consensus is that Panasonic plasmas have the best black and contrast levels in the industry. That said, it is probably not a good idea to turn off all lights using a 42" screen. Try using a small backlight behind the display, and you may be surprised to see the apparent black level improved.
I have this tv as well and so far I've thought the blacks are great. I watched the last matrix film which has tons of blacks and the movie looked great. I found the back lighting had a great impact and made it looke even better. All it took was:

6ft Rope Light From Lowes = $5.97

Black Cable Ties = $1.97

2 Packs of Cable Black Mounts = $.99 each

Go to this thread to see the result.

It's worked great!

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Black level is not a problem for me with my 42PWD6UY. Can you find another new Panny to compare with yours?
Without actually seeing your display myself, I would say that you need to calibrate your plasma.

You should not have the Brightness ALL THE WAY DOWN.

Did you adjust the picture using your eyes only??

If so, go buy a Calibration disc. Digital Video Essentials or Avia, or use the THX Optimizer found on many DVD's (Star Wars, Finding Nemo, etc...).

This should help to correct your problem.

The reason I've come to this conclusion is because you said your Brightness is all the way down. This should not be neccesary to get the GREAT picture you've heard so much about.
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Thanks for the suggestions:

I have already tried the "light rope" and hated the yellowish cast. My next backlight will be a broad spectrum "white light". I would prefer to not use backlighting but if that is the ONLY way to fix the poor black level of this display then I'll go this route.

I have AVIA .................. I don't think this is a calibration problem.

I will check the 'offset' levels of the 318. Will also check the display on non used inputs.

To verify what I'm talking about check out your display in a pitch black room. Tell me if you display isn't like a huge 'night light'.

Thanks again :p

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Odd. I agree w/ others that having Brightness all the way down probably shouldn't be right. I do my calibration in, not pitch black, but dark enough that I can't tell which remote button is which. I don't have this problem. Can you try another source (i.e. different dvd player, video game, HD, etc...)?

I remember the Panny has some menu setting (don't remember the name) that automatically adjusts the light level, depending on the room lighting... make sure that's turned off.
Originally posted by johnnymg
To verify what I'm talking about check out your display in a pitch black room. Tell me if you display isn't like a huge 'night light'.
No more than my CRT is, which I had hooked up over the weekend side by side to do a SD test for my cable box. I had them both with no feed, and the glow was pretty much exactly the same.

When I first got my plasma and moved the CRT out of the room .. of course I was focused on the detail, black levels, etc .. and originally focused to much on the 'glow' just because it was a new TV, and I originally thought the black was poor .. but as the previous message stated when I compared them side by side, both the CRT and the plasma were nearly identical in the amount of light they put out on black screens.
Thanks again for the hints:

JR: I found your "settings" link for the 6UY and I have the brightness and Pic set pretty much the same as in your pdf file. However, I haven't changed the advanced settings: input level or W/B. What effect does the input level have??? Is it possible that this is goofing up the black level??

As a further comment: The display is behind some large sliding doors so the surrounding area around the display is like a black hole. ;) I suspect that the BLACK surroundings are just too severe for this set. FWIW, I dumped my 04 Mits RPTV due to other problems but I don't remember the blacks being this pathetic.

Thanks again

Hey there JohnG,

I think that my settings have changed a bit since then...let me double check for you when I get home. Maybe we can compare a dark scene in a movie to see if we are getting similar losses in black detail and level.

Our tv is sitting infront of a cream wall...perhaps that is making a big enough difference? On another note, I have noticed an odd "loss of black levels" when I have our backlight (ropelight) on, that I've seen a few times but haven't had a chance to replicate.

Perhaps it's simply an optical illusion, but the fact that the backlight makes the frame pitch black, I wonder if that is what's causing me to see what appears to be poor black levels on certain areas of the screen. That might support the black area causing some sort of low black level illusion...or simply showing that the plasma cannot make black blacks. :)

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On the Advanced Picture Settings change the Gamma to:

2.0 (dark)

2.2 (darker) - The one I use.

2.5 (darkest).

You can also try the Black Extension.

But it introduces a lot of artifacts (At least on my setup) to the Picture.
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It's your DVD player, have you tried it with another player yet?? See if you can get your hands on a Panasonic RP82 and try it.
I'll try the gamma mod and another DVD player on Wed night.

great suggestions ............ THANKS again

Having participated in the digital projector forum for a couple years before becoming a plasma owner, I've come to realize that black levels are largely subjective. While they can be measured and defined using contrast ratios and foot lamberts, what constitutes "good blacks" is a totally arbitrary decision.

I've owned 4 digital projectors in the last two years. The SX21 had blacks that I considered acceptable, but not outstanding. The Sharp 12K, which has a rated (and measured) contrast of at least 4000:1 after calibration, has a black level that I find better than my 42PWD7UY. Not a lot lower, but definitely lower.

Just as there are those who were satisfied with the SX21, there were those who were equally dissatisfied with the 12K (mostly former CRT owners). Plasmas are no different. Some people love their low-rent Gateway plasma, and some people buy Fujitsus and are less than thrilled.

Having read all the posts about the amazing black levels of Panasonic plasmas, I was a bit surprised at how high the black level is on my 42PWD7UY in a dark room. I added a small backlight, which has noticeably improved my perception of contrast.

Don't use the rope lights. Get something with a cooler output that's closer to a neutral grey. I'm using a small flourescent desk lamp I dug out of the closet. It's not perfect, but the yellowish cash of those rope lights is going to throw your perspective off and affect the way you perceive colors onscreen.

I can assure everyone that my 7UY is properly calibrated using OpticONE and Avia Pro. When a 0 IRE test pattern is displayed onscreen, there is no dithering. The panel can't get any blacker. I was experiencing a severe blue push at 10 IRE and below, but further tweaking in the service menu has lessened the blue cast considerably. Grayscale is pretty much flat from 20 to 100 IRE, with only minor blue push below 10 IRE.

John, I submit that there's nothing wrong with your plasma. I'm guessing that you simply have different expectations than some others. Comparing a plasma to a CRT projection TV is unfair from a black level/contrast perspective. Plasmas have gotten really good, but not that good.

If you had your brightness set to -20 at one point, I can tell you that you saw the blackest blacks you can expect to see from the panel. You also most likely clipped a huge amount of low IRE information (shadow detail).

As for gamma settings, my Panny defaulted to 2.2. I tried 2.0 during my calibration, but the image looked too flat. I didn't bother with 2.5 because I don't think current plasma technology has a fine enough grayscale to accommodate such a high gamma.

Get yourself a good calibration disc such as Avia (avoid DVE; many of its test patterns are terrible and the disc navigation is the worst I've ever seen) and learn the basics like proper brightness/contrast/color/tint/sharpness. Don't use settings posted by others. Calibrate your display for your source.

Let us know how it goes.
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I think I watch TV much like the original poster. Your plasma is probably fine. Be thankful you went with the Panny because plasmas from other manufacturers would just be worse. My S/O loves to watch dark horror movies so this drove me nuts for a long time.

If you're like me, you probably had your previous CRT tuned to be so that black emits no light in a dark room. Plasmas can't do that. The contrast ratio has only to do with how much brighter-than-"black" the pixels can get. Black level or gamma settings will not help.

So yes, adding a little ambient light will largely correct the issue for you. You'll get used to the different way of watching TV also. You may even come to realize you like being able to see things in dark scenes. I noticed at the local theater that film's "blacks" aren't perfect either.

I sometimes wonder if the "night time" picture could be improved by "tinting" the glass. Or perhaps I should just wear some sunglasses? ;)

-- Rob
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Thanks Rob and Jay for the very thoughtful comments. Much appreciated.

Yes, I am comparing the 7UY to my previous RP-CRT Mits that had VERY BLACK 'blacks'. I can't do a direct comparison since the set is gone but my recollection was that the display was pitch black with no input signal. The Pani 7UY is anything BUT pitch black. Subjectively, the black level on the Pani is really quite AWFUL. Anyway, if the "problem" isn't a setting (I don't think it is) then it looks like the only solution is a good broad spectrum backlight. I sort of suspected that would be the answer but I wanted to check with people that have a lot more experience with plasma displays than me.

Note: Overall I'm still satisfied with the overall picture. It is, however, pretty interesting/odd that many people rave about the black level of this display. :confused: If I wanted to be 'cold' I'd describe this display as a huge "night light". :eek:

I'd still like to hear from other folks who have done the 'lights out' check.

big regards
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Originally posted by johnnymg
FWIW, I dumped my 04 Mits RPTV due to other problems but I don't remember the blacks being this pathetic.
If you want absolute black, you only have one option. CRT. With the lights out, every plasma I've seen, including my 4UY and my moms 7UY definitly glow. My previous 34" CRT HDTV was totally black. My buddies Pioneer Elite RPTV is completely black although he keeps having other problems. You can't even tell they are on. However, compared to LCD panels, LCD RPTVs, LCD FPs, DLP RPTVs, DLP FPs, and all non-Panasonic based plasmas, they kick serious butt (I think DLP may be getting there). Personally, I find the black level to be completely acceptable on even the darkest movies.
My 50HD6UY is inky black with only a slight glow in total darkness. Under soft living room lighting, it's exceptionally crisp. I've got recessed lighting in the ceiling, the eyeballs cast a light on the wall behind the plasma, so I get a nice dimmable effect. The lighting is tungsten and too red, but it really doesn't seem to be bothersome.
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