Calibration Discussion

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#1
Let's talk about calibration...


First off here are the home DIY Calibration Discs. There is also the quick and simple THX Optimizer that is available on many Disney DVDs. As well as GetGray.

This is different than professional calibration which uses test equipment to take readings of the screen. Some of the discs above use Color Filters to help set the colors correctly.

Ive used Digital Video Essentials, Avia, THX Optimizer, personally. I also have color filters for Avia.

You can rent these discs from BlockBuster or Netflix. You can purchase filters directly from Avia for $10.

Furthermore, you can often enter the Service Menus of HDTV sets and further modify the picture settings, however this is generally not advised for the non enthusiast....who hasnt researched deeply for information on tweaking within the Service Menu of his/her particular set.

THX Optimizer is a breeze to use, and can help the woefully lost, to improve picture quality. Not very many test screens, and easy walk throughs.

Digital Video Essentials gets into a lot of other areas of Home Theatre setup, like audio, but also has a lot of information that can teach the uninitiated about a lot of issues and tips about improving the overall system. It's a bit difficult to navigate and can be daunting and confusing for the uninitiated. Lots of test screens. I still like it, but prefer Avia for simplicity's sake.

Avia is my favorite. It targets video calibration only, and has many advanced test screens not available on the THX Optimizer disc. While avoiding the other topics of Home Theater that Digital Video Essentials gets into.

I havent played with GetGray but I hear its fantastic, similar to Avia with lots of test patterns, and lots of support online.

Totally unfamiliar with Sound & Vision disc....so cant comment...but I hear its not up to par with these others.

With the better discs here, color filter wheels, and some research into the Service Menu of your particular set, you can achieve fantastic results. Any of them (and without going into the service menu) will help the newbies and enthusiasts achieve a better overall picture.
 
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EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#2
Having said all that. Guess what I did. After calibrating my Vizio GV42LF, and using it like that for awhile. I chose to move away from calibrated settings, into my own preferences. Namely, I punched the constrast up a bit, and fiddled with the black levels, and the white levels, slightly increased color saturation, popped the sharpness up a notch...among other things.

Im not poo pooing calibration, however its not the be all and end all of enjoying the picture on your television. There is a reason people like the high brightness and contrast of the store settings. There is no wrong setting for your television, as long as you like it.

What say you? Which discs have you used? Which one's do you like and why? Anybody have a professional calibration done?
 
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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#3
EV,
I use my eyeballs for tv setup color correction, apparently as you ultimately decided to do!

I remember as a teenager going to Sears Roebuck and I looked at the 'pastel' settings on their displayed televisions and I took it upon myself to pop open the setup doors on several of their sets and I adjusted them to my preference, which was a sharp picture with LOUD honest colors.

Apparently, a salesman saw me doing this and he thanked me. Then, he went to every remaining set on display to 'brighten' their appearance, which probably helped him sell more sets.
Jim
 
#4
Jim, and also led to the industry wide realization that they should just come out of the box that way!

EV, it's funny you ask this today. I came across the Digital Video Essentials DVD that a neighbor loaned me a couple months ago. I put it in and watched it last night!

I completely agree with you about the difficulty in navigation on this DVD. I also agree that the sound set up and "extra" information contained is educational and helpful. I haven't seen the others, but I still don't think I will be recommending this one.

Here is the bottom line on calibration. The question is "Should I" or "Shouldn't I?".

I believe that there is one real (If/then) answer.

IF you are dissatisfied with your quality, verses others you've seen,
THEN you should calibrate.

IF you think yours is fine, and looks pretty much the same as the rest,
THEN don't bother with calibration.

Anyone who is searching for quality that they don't have, has the "eyes to see" and should hang around here for awhile as we cover this in depth. But not everyone is equipped with these eyes. Some people have eyes that are capable of seeing "fine grain" while some don't. (This is part of the physiology of the retina.) Some people just won't understand what the fuss is about.

In the battle of subjective versus objective analysis of picture, it is said that there is no substitute for human analysis. The machines just don't match up to the trained observer. They get us closer.

The elite in the calibration industry are said to have "Golden Eyes". Machine calibrations are considered second place versus using one of these elite viewers. The human eye is far more discerning than the calibration equipment and can get better with practice.

I liken this to wine tasting. When you first begin tasting wine you wonder where wine tasters got so many descriptions of the subtle nuances in wine. Smoky, buttery, fruity, like toast, and the list goes on and on. As you begin tasting, you first pick up on some of the simpler things like "fruity". Then, the more you taste, the more your palate and nose begin to be able to distinguish. And here is the best wine tasting tip that I learned. To quickly understand the differences in wine, compare just two, side-by-side. When you first taste two Chardonnay, they taste about the same. As you go from one to the other, though it as if one bottle marches to one side of the table and one to the other. Their differences stand out and expand each time you go back and forth. As you learn different traits, smells, or flavors, you retain them and THEN you notice them in wines that you didn't notice before.

In the same way, the more that you see, the more you will see as your eyes and brain learn what you are looking for. Part of the "seeing" is physical and part of the seeing is learned. To develop the skill, practice. Practice on the older TVs that you have access to. When you get it right, you will be shocked to find out how much better TV could have looked all along.
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#6
Golden Eyes! LOL!

My eyes are terrible. However Im an optics fanatic, binoculars especially. And I know all the problems to look for in analyzing optical systems.

A lot of $30 vintage Japanese binoculars are very good....but almost no optical systems are perfect...even when money is no object. That is just the nature of optics focusing light.

It sounds like you might be a Golden Eyes....or at least a convert and proselytizer.

Should be an interesting conversation. Im no slouch at this. And I know lots about how the eye works, because of my optical fanaticism.
 
#7
Don't mistake poor eyesight with perception of detail.

I am very nearsighted (20/800 corrected 20/40) but near and far focus come from the shape of the eye, while detail is contained in the retina, like the rods and cones that allow us to see black-and-white and color.

(Have you tried my favorite 'nocs, Cannon w/image stabilization? AWESOME!)

By the way, I haven't uncovered any slouches around here. You guys are great!
 
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EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#8
Yes, I get best binocular use without my contacts. You adjust the focus of the optics to correct for near and far sightedness. Astigmatism, no such luck.

Glasses are better than contacts for use with other optics/binocular, the water on the surface of the lenses causes problems. Particuarly spiking in the light. You can see this on car windshields at night, where the oncoming headlights have diffraction spikes from the glass. Or a wet windshield in the rain.

The Canon image stablization is sweet. However they are a bit pricey. Im an old school porro man myself.
 
#9
EV,
I use my eyeballs for tv setup color correction, apparently as you ultimately decided to do!

I remember as a teenager going to Sears Roebuck and I looked at the 'pastel' settings on their displayed televisions and I took it upon myself to pop open the setup doors on several of their sets and I adjusted them to my preference, which was a sharp picture with LOUD honest colors.

Apparently, a salesman saw me doing this and he thanked me. Then, he went to every remaining set on display to 'brighten' their appearance, which probably helped him sell more sets.
Jim
Jim, I just realized exactly who started the industry to pervert the color settings for display...I won't name any names....:icon_beat:

(Don't worry, you're forgiven.:grin:)
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#10
Jeff wrote:
Jim, I just realized exactly who started the industry to pervert the color settings for display...I won't name any names....(Don't worry, you're forgiven.)
-----------------------------------
Jeff,
Here's another surprise: I've also been known to adjust the bass, midrange and treble settings on display stereos in stores as well as in friend's homes. I have a good ear and I used to run the sound system for several bands including a Jazz-Swing group with plenty of brass. :bigband:
Jim
 

scandiskwindows9x

Moderator of DTV Latino
#12
well i think that calibrate the television is as a bit dumb, not all the images looks the same ,i have just trusted in my preferences in my television and done, set the sharpness control to 100 percent, the color between 50-65 percent brightness 50 and contrast 100 and looks good, i have a Panasonic viera plasma tv and looks good,

well i just think that calibration by your instincts is better than with a guide of how to

best regards
Francisco
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#13
you can often enter the Service Menus of HDTV sets and further modify the picture settings, however this is generally not advised for the non enthusiast....who hasnt researched deeply for information on tweaking within the Service Menu of his/her particular set.
Just want to say, you can really F- up a TV in the secret "Service" menu! To the point where you can turn your HDTV into a really big brick. Then you'll have to take it to a shop for repair. Expensive!

Just because you *CAN* access a service menu, doesn't mean you *should* screw around with it.

(Along the same lines, NOTE to Mariah Carey: Just because you *can* hit those notes, that doesn't mean you *should*!!!)
 
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