SDD533-HD5 Arrived Today (long - set-up)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris Lehner, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    Around Noon today, 2 of Gen X's finest finally delivered my set [​IMG] . J/K...in all fairness, they were pretty careful with the set. I was surprised and delighted to find the box in almost perfect condition and the set reflected that; not a mark, scratch or dent to be found (had to wipe some of the "white smudge" from packing off the top of the cabinet and that was it). The delivery was as painless as my nerves allowed it to be.
    Once the delivery guys were out the door, I started by hooking up my DirecTV, through standard, composite output. OTB, the set was in STANDARD mode, with a NATURAL WIDE screen. Of course the contrast was through the roof; maxed out at 30. Funny enough, I later found out that this is a selectable setting, which returns contrast to 30 and leaves other picture settings detented at 0; like Pioneer wanted to make it easy for showrooms to get this ultra-bright picture. I knocked the contrast down to 0 before starting.
    I have to admit, I'd heard from other recent owners that the standard-def signals of DirecTV were not all that impressive on this set, so I didn't expect much. I didn't get it [​IMG] . Starting with HBO, my satellite signals looked VERY washed-out and soft. I also tried Trio, Discovery, Travel, AMC, TNT and the Food Network. TNT and AMC looked slightly better than the rest. I noticed a definite BLUE tint to the picture.
    I quickly moved onto setting up the DVD player; a Pioneer Elite DV-37, set for the first time to progressive (480p) mode. Before loading AVIA, I made sure to turn all picture enhancers off. This included FLESH TONES, BLACK LVL ENHANCER, SVM (Scan Velocity Modulator); COLOR TEMP was set to Standard, PURE CINEMA could not be defaulted using component inputs, nor could the 3D Y/C or NR filters be adjusted. I also set the RLS (Relative Light Sensor) to Off.
    Before going through the boring calibrations, I just had to pop a movie in and test the set OTB. I started with Jackie Brown, the Collector's Edition. This always seemed to be a bright DVD and the new transfer is great. Well, it's 2:35 : 1, so it was letterboxed when I put it in. Not having read up on burn-in fully, I opted not to test with this disc. I instead chose Toy Story 2, which of course is of reference quality and has been optimized for widescreen playback.
    When I poped it in, I remembered it had THX calibration signals on it and rather than go through AVIA right away, I decided to do the "basics" with these test signals.
    On my initial pass, I bumped the CONTRAST to 10 and set BLACK LEVEL to -15. After setting the Black Level, I upped the Contrast to about 18; nice and bright but still did not notice any bloom. I next set TINT to 5 and COLOR to 5 as well. I'm not sure what "absolute" Magenta and Cyan are supposed to look like, so I looked for colors that seemed "true"; for example, with the Tint too high the Magenta bar turns dark purple, too low and it gets pinkish. I also had a tough time determining when the RED started to bloom. I went high with the Color and brought it down until the Red bar seemed to "cool" and not push. Next was the Convergence test and even OTB the pattern looked pretty good. Then came Geometry and a big revelation; I had forgotten to switch my DVD from 4:3 to 16:9 :b . Holy Shit...scenes from TS2, which I had been watching intermittent with the tests, now really jumped off the screen. Even though, in theory, it may not seem it would have effected the previous settings, the OCD in me made me re-test them. I backed Contrast down to 15 (probably just a judgement rather than the aspect change), pulled Black Level down a smidgen to -16, Tint stayed at 5 but the Red bar seemed to really let me push it now. I settled the Color on 10.
    I was then back at my Geometry test. My circle seemed to look most "natural" in Natural Wide, but I noticed that the outline boxes did not match up on the right and left sides of the set; the right edge of the box was flush with the edge of the set, but the left side was slightly off the edge. I switched between screen modes (Natural Wide, Cinema Wide, Zoom and Full) and Full seemed to offer the best alignment. As others have mentioned, I went to check the Vertical Position, but it is not adjustable in Natural Wide or Full.
    With these basic settings, I started watching some titles. TS2 looked great; so bright and the colors were very saturated. Not overly really, but I figured a few tweaks down of the Color would give me back some sharpness. I went from 10 to 5 to 0 and things looked fine. Hell, they looked acceptable, IMO, all the way down to...is it -24?...one notch before B&W [​IMG] . I went back up to 5. I then put Jackie Brown back in. First thing I noticed is that, now with the DVD player's aspect ratio set correctly, no more letterbox, even though the film is 2:35 : 1. I watched the opening sequence and noticed some blooming around the titles, so I backed the Color down to 0. I also looked at Chapter 15, where they do the first money exchange (trial run). The scene is shot at the infamous (that is if you're a QT fan) Del Amo shopping center and there is a tremendous amount of color. The scene looked good. Then Monsters, Inc. Again, like TS2, and as is probably likely with most digital, animated transfers, the picture was bright, colorful and sharp. I noticed Scully's "magenta" patches more than in the past and in fact was concerned about correct Hue (Tint), but left it alone for now. I then put in Spider Man. Well, back to reality. The picture still looked good of course, but not like TS2 or Monsters. I was really aware of Flesh Tones for the first time and decided to check a few new controls.
    I switched between the STD, REF FILM, GAME and USER picture modes. I noticed that REF FILM REALLY smoothes out the image, as far as scan lines, but is on the "yellow" side. I noticed that it simply set all levels back to 0, except SHARPNESS, which I had yet to test; it was maxed "in" at -30. I decided to set my levels back, as far as Contrast, Black, Color and Tint and play with the Sharpness some. I settled down at -10. I then also experimented with COLOR TEMP for the first time. I liked FILM best.
    I then moved onto Shrek. I was expecting to see the same eye-popping picture I'd gotten with TS2 and Monsters, but I was surprised. Shrek seemed a little "soft" and especially in the scene where Shrek and Donkey are visiting Tuloc (sp), the cornfield in the background seems almost "fake". Maybe the picture is so good it is revealing "flaws" in the animation.
    In any case, those are my initial impressions. I still have a lot of tweaking to do. Not only the AVIA settings tonight (with the correct light), but I have to tweak my DVD player for YNR (Brightness Noise Reduction), CNR (Color), MNR (the infamous Mosquito Noise), BNR (Block Noise); Sharpness for High and Mid frequencies, Detail, White and Black Levels, Black Setup (for "floating" Black), Hue, Chroma Level and Chroma Delay. Shew, and I haven't even done a 64-point convergence yet [​IMG] . BTW, Elite DVD owners, perhaps we can share some tips on these tweaks and levels, as they would seem to effect the picture as much, if not more, than the monitor settings.
    Thanks for hanging in there 533 owners. More tomorrow, or perhaps Thursday, if I get mesmerized watching movies [​IMG] .
    Chris
     
  2. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    Wow, thanks for the in depth report Chris. I think I am starting to lean toward this set again... so keep it coming. A couple quick questions... Does the screen come with a highly reflective screen protector... and is it removable?

    And um... does the set have 2:3 pulldown... do I want that or need it?

    Please check out some space movies next... Star Trek or Star Wars... I wanna know how dark the space shots are!

    Ric
     
  3. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    Update:

    The misses and I settled in for her first viewing of the set. We started out with one of her favorites, and something I knew produced a nice picture, Monsters, Inc. I had already warned her that we would watch a few clips and then I'd like her help with the AVIA basic calibrations; I figured 4 eyes are better than 2. As we were watching Monsters, her first comments were "don't you think it's too bright?" and "it seems like the reds are oversaturated". I swear, she must be reading the HT magazines lying around the house...lol. Now that it was night, with the lights down, indeed the set was too bright and the color a bit on the high side. I knew I had a partner with a good eye to help me with AVIA. We watched a few more discs, just to get a sense of what we were looking for and how the set looked pre calibration. We looked at Toy Story 2 and again, reds seemed saturated and the picture was bright. I then suggested we watch something "real", to get a sense of flesh tones. We popped in The Fifth Element (can't wait to get this in SuperBit) and it looked pretty damn good, although the reds were causing some flesh tone problems. I then threw my girlfriend a bone and suggested she pick something she was very familiar with, so she could get a sense of how it looked on this set and how it might need correcting. She chose Practical Magic. It's certainly not a reference quality disc, but she did notice real flesh tone problems. As a quick fix, I tried turning on the Flesh Tone enhancer and there was a noticeable improvement. Nice feature. We turned it back off for calibration.

    We then did our AVIA tests. What a difference the lighting makes. During the day, when I did initial set-ups, I had some outside light that I cannot keep out of the current room (the living room, while I finish the dedicated room in the basement). Based on that, and the simple patterns I used from the TS2 THX optimizer, my settings were...as I noted above:

    Contrast 15
    Black Level -16
    Color 5
    Tint 5
    Sharpness -10

    After AVIA:

    Contrast, a much friendlier 5
    Black Level, a crisper -20
    Color, a warmer -10 (I had been as high as +10 before)
    Tint was spot on at 7...the easiest test of the bunch

    Sharpness, we had some trouble reading the test pattern. We settled in at -10, but I suspect I will bring this down over time to somewhere between that -10 and the REF FILM setting of -30.

    With our Color at -10 and Tint 7, BLUEs were true on the color decoder key, GREEN was between +5% and +10%, and the all important RED? My girlfriend and I both agreed somewhere between 0 and +5% !!

    We left FLESH TONE and BLACK ENHANCE off and COLOR TEMP set to FILM.

    We rewarded ourselves with a full viewing of X-Men. I'd never watched this disc before, but I wouldn't call it reference quality. Still, there were some nice scenes and the set looked pretty good. When we were done, we took a quick look at some of the previous clips with our new settings. Monsters looked FANTASTIC !! The Reds and Magentas were PERFECT !! I popped in Shrek real quick and I don't know...I don't think it's picture is in the league with Pixar's work. Still, it looks damn good; the Greens on this set, with it's +5% - +10% push (which we know are the least offensive), look great.

    Still more work to do. I plan to take the ISF class soon, so I'm taking copious notes of all adjustments, but I thought I'd share what I had so far. Hope everyone is still enjoying their 533.

    Chris
     
  4. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Chris,

    Very nice series of reviews. Interesting that, without actually saying so, you noted something that I am now coming to terms with; this set will quickly tell you which transfers are good, and which are not so good.

    My previous set (a 32" Sony) although calibrated with Avia would tend to homogenize things (for lack of a better word). You could still tell the bad from the great, but the 533 gives you a lot more info to work with!

    I will try to post my exact settings later on, but I am currently running Ref Theatre mode with Film color temp. I then tweaked with Avia, and made further adjustments to color based on the title; sometimes up a bit, sometimes down.

     
  5. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Here are my current settings. Keep in mind that these are based on Reference Theatre mode/Film color temperature, and were derived by using Avia via the component inputs of the set. All gee-wiz stuff is off (SVM, Black enhancement, RLS, etc.)

    Contrast -25
    Black Level -9
    Color +11
    Tint +8
    Sharpness -17

    These were set in a very dark room. When using the Avia Needle Pulses and Steps pattern, I can not really detect any blooming on the blocks on the top right half of the screen regardless of how high the contrast was dialed up. However, I was able to dial the contrast down until the thin black lines on the lower half no longer had any noticeable bending or wavy-ness. As for sharpness, this was not all that easy to see either. What I did was look for white shadowing around the black text on the sharpness pattern, and set the level so that this is not visible.

    The other settings were pretty easy to set, although again, you may find the need to tweak the color control based on program content.

    With actual program content (viewed in a dark room) the set exhibits a tremendous amount of dynamic range....dark scenes look dark (perhaps a touch too dark, maybe), and bright scenes look bright (duhh). I may set the contrast up a few clicks and see how that looks on dark scenes.

    BL
     
  6. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    Brian:

    Thanks for sharing your settings. I think our Contrast and Black Levels are "similar". Even though you are -25/-9, respectively, and I am +5/-20, since Contrast and Black effect each other so much, I think the fact that I am higher Contast/lower Black to your lower Contrast/higher Black makes sense. Our Tint is very close: as I mentioned, my set was DEAD on at 7 and my girlfriend and I flipped between 7 and 8, so I think that's a good call. Your Sharpness is lower than mine, -17 vs. -10, but as I said in my post, I'm planning on trying to live with it lower; somewhere between -10 and the REF FILM -30. Of course our big discrepancy is in Color, which does cause me some concern. I see you're +11. This is not a "I'm right, you're wrong" comment by any means, but that seems awfully high. I admit, as I also said in my post, I initially set my Color as high as +10 and then backed it down to +5; I just had the hardest time really getting the RED color bar to bloom. As I posted, I raised the level high and backed off until the RED seemed to "cool" and "true". But watching films, especially those like Monsters and Toy, really showed the Red was a bit high. This was before the AVIA test. With the Blue filter and "flashing patch" test, I set the level all the way back down to -10 and those films seem to play much warmer, with accurate reds. I'm curious what your push measurement was on the Color Key test? Perhaps the Contrast has something to do with our differences in Color setting. I agree that the image was so detailed, I (we) had trouble detecting bloom with Contrast maxed out as well. We relied more on the top and bottom sweeps for out setting. And of course I mentioned trouble making Red bloom as well. I also VERY strongly agree with the fact that this set is not as forgiving as I had heard and expected. My 2 best sources at this point are Monsters and TS2 and they look STUNNING; I mean, no where near ISF calibration time and I could freeze one of those frames and post it here like those guys, post Tech, do. But then things go down in grades. Even TS1 looks softer than these titles. I also watched parts of Forrest Gump, which looked good not great, and the Criterion Collection transfer of Armegeddon, which also, disappointingly, looked good not great (normally I put a lot of faith in a Criterion transfer, but we are talking 1999). Of course, it is daytime and I do have a lot of light filtering in. I'm going to continue to tweak and tweak and tweak, but I'm going to start paying more, or at least as much, attention to how MOVIES look, as opposed to only the test patterns. As always, I'll keep posting.

    Oh, BTW, the Jackie Brown transfer is 2:35 : 1, but is enhanced for 16x9 display. I assume that is why, with the aspect ration correctly set on my DVD player, there are no bars on the set.

    Chris
     
  7. Bleddyn Williams

    Bleddyn Williams Supporting Actor

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    While I'm at work, and can't check right now, my settings are probably close to Brian's. I'll make a note tonight and post em here just for fun.

     
  8. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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  9. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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  10. Chris Lehner

    Chris Lehner Agent

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    ** Point well taken about the Contrast. I forgot that you should try and live with it as low as is tolerable. I'll try playing with it and Black Level tomorrow night.

    ** Also a good tip about different modes not being equal at zero. I thought they were simply presets. So, it makes sense to test AVIA with all modes? See how service menu values effect the test patterns and what settings are best in that mode I guess.

    ** Yes, I also noticed the circle pattern for wide mode was most symetric in Zoom, but I just assumed this was because it's not truly a "stretch" mode; it just blows the picture up from the middle outward, so it won't distort the circle.

    ** Actually, I wish someone would answer this question, because I'm not sure myself. Yes, I realize Fifth Element is 2:35 : 1 and that there are black bars. And perhaps the "regular" Jackie Brown is listed as 1:85 : 1. But I am looking right at the back of the box of the Collector's Edition Jackie Brown and it says "Widescreen(2:35 : 1)-Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions". So, what makes a 2:35 : 1 ratio film, enhanced for television, like this one, different from one that has NOT been enhanced? I assumed it fully fit a 16x9 screen. Can someone shed some light on this?

    Also, I have 2 quick questions:

    1) I have noticed 3 or 4 times the sets power quickly "popping" off: there's a green flash, the picture ratio goes very briefly to 4:3 and then resets itself to 16x9. Where it is right now, temporarily in the living room while I finish the basement, I wouldn't bet against the power being suspect. But is this the issue the manual talks about as "the protection circuit to correct the electric discharge phenomenon in the CRT" or should I be worried?

    and 2) I came home tonight from my pool league, surprised to find my girlfriend still up and watching the new set. 11:40pm is usually way past her bedtime on a work night. She fell asleep with the Shrek menu title on...at 8:30!! Now, it's not completely static...it has the Donkey jumping up and down. But evidentally that looped on my new set for about 3 hours. Problem? Remedy?

    Chris
     
  11. Chris Strasz

    Chris Strasz Stunt Coordinator

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    So I ran Avia tonight, and the settings I came up with for reference, film color, all settings turned off were the following:

    contrast - 17
    Black Lvl - 5
    Color - 20
    Tint - 11
    Sharpness - 23

    This seemed to be right at the time when I ran it. Granted I ran it on my ps2 through s video so I don't know how much a progressive scan component setup will change this (will eventually get this). These numbers seem quite off from what Brian and Chris have. I know sets usually never come out of the box identical to others but still I have to wonder if my settings are "wrong" in some way.
     
  12. Chris Strasz

    Chris Strasz Stunt Coordinator

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    Also to hanson - since I remember speaking to you previously regarding gamecube on this set maybe you could help me out.

    What do you find that you use for settings for the gamecube in relation to your default dvd settings. The game setting looks 'alright' but the user(reference) setting I had created for DVD's kinda looks crappy for games (real smooth).

    I'm not blown away by the quality of the gamecube at this time on the set however, this may be due to me using regular composite cables. The PS2's s-video seemed to make that console sharper.

    I get the component cable for the cube on Friday so I'm imagining that even non progressive games will be dramatically improved (I hope?) Any verification of this or am I being too optimistic to see quite a bit of improvement in clarity/sharpness.
     
  13. Bleddyn Williams

    Bleddyn Williams Supporting Actor

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    Here are my settings....
    Contrast -30
    Brightness -18
    Color +17
    Tint +6
    Sharpness -21
    Ref Theater mode, color temp film, everything else off.
    *
     
  14. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    Even if your source is not progressive, the component video signal will look markedly better than composite. In my experience, even better than S-Vid (richer colors). Also, I have the TV audio out going to my receiver and the TV volume set to zero so I can get GC in surround. For both, start with the Game mode, dial down the contrast as much as you can and turn the brightness up to compensate. I don’t think I touched the color or tint settings, but I did dial the sharpness down.
     
  15. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    OK, I bit the bullet, took a shot and rolled the very expensive dice. One Call got a call from me today and this set should be winging its way to me in a couple of weeks (I opted for the white glove delivery).

    Part of me thinks I'm crazy for ordering a set I have never seen, I based my purchase mostly on customer reviews here and elsewhere. It was between this and the Mits 55411, but after hearing the Pioneer has better stretch modes and less of a red push problem, I decided to go for it. I also went with a 3 year extended warranty and will most likely renew it when it expires.

    Time will tell if I made the right decision... keep those comments coming...

    BTW, One Call has extended their 10% off sale and the free shipping til the end of December.

    Ric
     
  16. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    Ric, I did the exact same thing. Never so much as looked at the SD533-HD5 or its competition. Glad to say I haven't regretted it a bit.
     
  17. Bleddyn Williams

    Bleddyn Williams Supporting Actor

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  18. Chris Strasz

    Chris Strasz Stunt Coordinator

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  19. Chris Strasz

    Chris Strasz Stunt Coordinator

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  20. Jim Douglas

    Jim Douglas Second Unit

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    Check out this component switcher. I ordered one when I got my Panasonic DVD recorder because my set only has one input.
    It works great and does not degrade the signal at all. I think Kehoi HDTV did a review on it also. Anyway check it out here http://www.inday.com/
    Later
    Jim
     

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