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how valuable is ISF calibration?


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#1 of 31 OFFLINE   Joe Becker

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Posted February 04 2003 - 04:19 AM

If this is a FAQ, I'm sorry..... I have a Pioneer Elite HD 520 (7 months old) and I think I'm ready for ISF calibration. I watch mostly DVD's in my 15 x 15 family room off the kitchen. I do have a black out shade on the window behind the couch (opposite the TV), and usually lower the kitchen lights. The dealer tried to dissuade me saying an ISF picture is "too dark." I don't mind the cost, but if the calibration won't give me a better picture, why bother. I'm really quite happy with the DVD picture as it is. Cable of course varys from acceptable to horrid. What's your experience with the calibration? If you've had it done, would you do it again with a new set? Thanks!

#2 of 31 OFFLINE   Michael TLV

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Posted February 04 2003 - 04:49 AM

Greetings What exactly does "too dark" mean? And what is it being compared to? 100% contrast? Well ... that's bad for your TV ... 2+2=4 ... yeah ... you won't like that ... because it is too low of a number. 2+2=9 is much better. Be aware that there are two types of calibration out there. Basic oil change variety and tune up variety. There is a difference ... Regards
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#3 of 31 OFFLINE   jeff lam

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Posted February 04 2003 - 05:24 AM

From what I have heard and seen. A full ISF calibration is worth every penny. Especially on RPTV's. Are you calibrated properly with video essentials or Avia? If you are used to a bright picture (high contrast), you will think it is too dark but this is the way it should be as too much contrast washes out the detail of the picture and also can damage your TV. If you are running a high contrast bring it down right away. It should be close to 30-40% or less.

#4 of 31 OFFLINE   Joe Becker

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Posted February 04 2003 - 06:49 AM

I did calibrate via Video Essentials when I bought the TV, and turned the contrast down. I really appreciate the detail in movies, so I guess what I'm hearing is that ISF will make an appreciable difference to the better.

#5 of 31 OFFLINE   Christopher~O

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Posted February 04 2003 - 07:13 AM

It was worth every penny to have my TV calibrated. Not only did the work squeeze more performance out of my TV, I learned a lot about the technology and learned how to keep settings like convergence tuned up. Cheers, Chris
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#6 of 31 OFFLINE   Alvin Lau

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Posted February 04 2003 - 09:34 AM

I have a Mitsu WT-46807 and a Panny PT-47WX49. Both units have been ISF-calibrated and the difference in picture quality was almost night and day. Even my girlfriend, who doesn't much care for the hobby, could easily see the improvement. If you like the picture after some basic tweaking with Avia/Video Essentials, you should love the picture after a good ISF calibration!
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#7 of 31 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted February 04 2003 - 11:15 AM

[quote] If you are running a high contrast bring it down right away. It should be close to 30-40% or less. [quote] Holy Smokes, that seems low! (<30%??!!)

I tried a 30% Contrast on my direct view 36-inch, and, man, it was really dark! (From what I'm used to that is.)

Will a 30% Contrast setting on a RPTV be any different than a Direct-View screen?

Well, I guess a person can get used to anything given time. Posted Image

Also: I've heard that many HTF'ers are keeping their Sharpness setting at about 25% or so! This, to me, also seems wayyyy too low! What is the benefit from such a low Sharpness setting? Is this damaging (i.e. Burn-In) too?

On my Tube set, a 25% Sharpness setting is awful. All on-screen text is smeared and blurry.

If members could please post their current TV Settings, I'd like to see them, for comparison. (Thanks. Posted Image)

Another parting Q.: How much is the average-priced ISF calibration? And does it really take all day to complete (5-6 hours I mean), like I've heard elsewhere?

#8 of 31 OFFLINE   Paul Clarke

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Posted February 04 2003 - 03:04 PM

David,

You really have to use a calibration DVD to truly evaluate any particular set. Most of the general rules regarding picture settings, esp. Contrast and Sharpness are correct but may not apply in every case. Only by checking grey scale will you be able to see something of the design philosophy of your set, it's power supply, etc. and where the baseline settings are to be found in the user menu and why.

I've seen TV's where the sub-contrast (old nomenclature-Screen, I think) value was set so high it rendered any control of the function within the user menu almost useless.
Likewise with Sharpness as well...the JVC 'D' series, while otherwise great sets, still have a very high level of detail at the 0 Sharpness setting. Entering the Service Menu you see a base level of detail already elevated which can make for grainy pictures with some sourcing even with a low Sharpness setting.

Sharpness is subjective according to whose eyes are doing the viewing---that's true. But the ringing effects and the excessively grainy pictures of high Sharpness levels are not subjective. Same with High Contrast---washed out color and detail is not subjective. And shortened tube life (and the effects of viewer eye strain) is certainly not subjective either. Ergo, the general rules.

But for your set 25% Sharpness may actually be too little. The only way to know is to run a calibration session with AVIA or VE. If you find something amiss or not to your liking then there's always ISF.

[quote] Will a 30% Contrast setting on a RPTV be any different than a Direct-View screen? [quote]
Depends on how much light output there is with each set.
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#9 of 31 OFFLINE   Alan Pummill

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Posted February 04 2003 - 10:11 PM

Joe, I have had my Pioneer Elite PRO-620HD for about 5 months now. Several months ago, I had it ISF calibrated by Gregg Loewen. WORTH EVERY PENNY!!! As you know, the Elites have great pictures on them, but they get better with a calibration. My particular set was out of focus, and had quit a bit of over-scan. The color temp. was way off also. Joe, watching HD and DVD's on my set is like looking through a window. Look, you paid good money for ,IMHO, the best HDTV on the market. Why not spend a little money and get the best possible picture from it that you can. And BTW, I had calibrated mine with Avia before Gregg did his magic. Boy was I way off!!
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#10 of 31 OFFLINE   MarshawnM

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Posted February 05 2003 - 02:28 AM

Joe, Where did you get the black out shade? Also, does it keep 100% of the light from coming through? Lastly how much was it? I had a Mits 55809 that was calibrated the difference was night and day. The picture on DVDs and Dish Network’s HD feeds looked like you're looking through window. I'm trying to find someone to calibrate my 55908, the guy that did my 55809 moved and the only other ISF guy in the area told me "There's nothing that can really be done about the red push that the Mits have." I know that is not true, so I'm wondering if this guy really knows his stuff. So I'm not letting him touch my Mits 55908. Calibration worth every Penny!

#11 of 31 OFFLINE   Jan Strnad

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Posted February 05 2003 - 03:00 AM

David VP,

The numbers on settings in the user controls are meaningless. Even comparing two sets of the same model, a "35" on one won't equal a "35" on the other.

All of the user controls affect levels that are established in the service menu, which you aren't supposed to have access to. So if white level (i.e. "contrast" or "picture") is high in the service menu, you might very well end up with a low setting in the user menu; if the white level is low in the service menu, you'll have to notch up the number in the user menu to compensate.

That's why you need to set up with a test disc like Avia or Sound&Vision Tuneup, and do it under your normal lighting conditions.

Once you're set up as the disc recommends, you can always fiddle with the settings...which of course you have written down...to fit your personal taste.

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#12 of 31 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted February 05 2003 - 02:20 PM

[quote] The numbers on settings in the user controls are meaningless. Even comparing two sets of the same model, a "35" on one won't equal a "35" on the other. [quote]
This seems ludricous to me.

WHY is EVERY single TV monitor set up differently within the service menu (esp. when you're talking about the SAME manufacturer)??!!

Aren't there some "standards" that are applied when programming such settings at the factory?

Really seems stupid, IMO, to have such a wide range of settings for the exact same model of TV!

If my neighbor, Joe Blow, and I own the exact same model, it seems natural to me that I should be able to rely on Joe's user settings to help calibrate my set. (Personal preferences and room lighting notwithstanding of course.) But I guess not.

I guess it's just another excuse TV manufacturers must have to make the consumer spend even MORE cash on such things as V.E./Avia, and of course the high-priced ISF man!

WHY can't the settings be set up correctly (or dang close at any rate) in the first place, without the need of ISF calibrators?

ALL ISF calibrations should ALREADY be done before a customer ever sees the TV. Geez, the darn things are expensive enough as it is, not even factoring in the obligatory ISF servicing! Posted Image

#13 of 31 OFFLINE   Gregg Loewen

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Posted February 05 2003 - 03:18 PM

David, sorry but it doesnt work that way. It is an engineering impossibility. Regards Gregg

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#14 of 31 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted February 05 2003 - 04:06 PM

[quote] It is an engineering impossibility. [quote]
Why?

You're telling me the TVs cannot be calibrated CLOSE to what is deemed "acceptable" by HT fans at the factory? Why not? What's the difference between calibrating the sets BEFORE a consumer gets it, or AFTER? It's still the same set (with the exception of customer preference levels and room lighting, etc.).

#15 of 31 OFFLINE   Paul Clarke

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Posted February 05 2003 - 04:44 PM

Hi David, You're right that same model sets from the same manufacturer should have (and most do) the same Service Menu values by and large. But because there are variances within tubes themselves, variances within other components (although usually within tolerance) and even variances within the assembly process itself, etc...no two sets can be guaranteed the same settings. My new 27" Toshiba flat has a series of internal screens which are used for quick setup at the factory requiring no external connections. It may well be that another Tosh 27" flat owner can use my service menu settings but that set might have a number of visual variances with my test screen results. As to calibration, it varies between brands and between varying areas of the calibration process itself. In my experience Toshiba direct views have extremely accurate color decoding right out of the box. Other brands do not. I recently had a series of direct view JVC's in my house on try out. Wonderful to look at with a very nice color picture. But AVIA showed color accuracy nowhere near the level of the Tosh at even the 'supposed 6500K' setting. That didn't make it a bad set...it just wasn't as accurate out of the box. Virtually all TV's of every technology type can use some in-home calibration. It's a fact of life.
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#16 of 31 OFFLINE   Michael TLV

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Posted February 05 2003 - 04:55 PM

Greetings Go to the keohihdtv site and read up on the ISF section on why TV's don't come ISF'd from the factory. Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
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#17 of 31 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted February 05 2003 - 05:20 PM

Thanks, Paul, for your post.

Makes sense.

Chalk up my ignorance to my novice status re. RPTVs.

Thank you for taking the time to spell it out. (Of course, a Google search for "ISF" wouldn't have hurt me either, I suspect.) Posted Image

#18 of 31 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted February 05 2003 - 05:21 PM

Another Q.: Do direct-view (Tube) TVs ever require AVIA / ISF calibration methods? Or are these tweaks inherent only to rear-projection?

#19 of 31 OFFLINE   TimTurtino

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Posted February 05 2003 - 06:55 PM

Yes. I can personally speak for the usefulness of Avia, as I've tried it on my 27" Panny. However, any TV can benefit from AVIA and/or ISF calibration, for exactly the same reason an RPTV does. You hear about it more with RPTV simply because A) Many people around here own those B) A higher percentage of people who own RPTVs care about image quality than those who own tube TVs C) The difference is even more breathtaking on a larger screen (isn't everything?) Me

#20 of 31 OFFLINE   david_b_m

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Posted February 05 2003 - 07:41 PM

[quote] You're telling me the TVs cannot be calibrated CLOSE to what is deemed "acceptable" by HT fans at the factory? Why not? What's the difference between calibrating the sets BEFORE a consumer gets it, or AFTER? It's still the same set (with the exception of customer preference levels and room lighting, etc.). [quote]

See, but it's NOT the same set... like you said, customer preference, room lighting are factors. Other factors include what type and model DVD player a person might have, the cables they choose to attach them to, right down to the operating temperature of the TV depending on room temperature and how close it is to walls or other electronic components that could trap heat or radiate more heat into it. And those are just the things that affect brightness. Go into something like convergence and you start encountering the effects of TINY variances in production tolerances, products getting jarred and bounced about in shipping, etc. etc. etc.

You want all this accounted for by the factory? It's not impossible. But it would increase the cost of each TV by probably 10-100 TIMES what it would cost to have an ISF tech calibrate your box.

The reality is, MOST consumers are satisfied with these things out of the box. Manufacturers gear their quality control to that majority, not to the minute percentage of consumers who expect to be "looking through a window" every time we switch on the TV. We, as HT fans (snobs?) want more than the general public. If we want more, we are going to have to pay for it. Relate it to any other engineered product... if you want to drive a Ferrari, you're going to pay more than to drive a Honda Accord. And you're also going to pay more for maintenance. A LOT more. Because you demand more of your car than a Honda owner.

The majority of HT hobbyists I believe are using relatively standard consumer electronic equipment, not something that cost 10x as much to start with. So we are buying Honda Accords and expect Ferrari performance out of them. Well, maybe it's possible, but you're gonna have to dish out some money to a guy who REALLY knows what he's doing if you want to get that result.




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