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ISF Cal on my PJ

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
PaulyT said:
Oh and either I missed it, or nobody has talked about the ISF calibration we witnessed? Doung (I think was his name) from LionAV came over on Friday afternoon to calibrate T7's projector (I don't remember what model it is, T7 will have to fill in). That was really fun to watch!

We had spent a little time watching a few demo scenes before the calibration, to try to prepare to make some judgement about the results. Not that it looked bad by any means, it's a great proj/screen and there was very little to complain about in my eyes, but we did notice that bright red things seemed to pop unnaturally, and there was possibly a slight red/yellow tint to the picture.

The process of the calibration was fascinating to follow, for me at least. The basic idea is that there's a test signal generator that puts images up on the screen, and a detector that measures the results - sort of like a little camera pointed at the screen from a few feet away. Doug wasn't sure exactly how the detector worked (my scientific mind wanted to know), but he was pretty certain that it measures multiple light wavelengths simultaneously, dunno if it had just r/g/b channels or something closer to a full spectrum analyzer...

The basic steps were, from what I can remember - so someone correct me if I get this wrong:

1) Set the overall brightness/contrast to a reasonable level, so that the "blacker than black" is not visible and full white is just barely at saturation.

2) Calibrate the white balance with a 80% and 20% white signal. That is, make the measured r/g/b colors equal, and at the appropriate level for the signal. This involved taking a measurement, tweaking the color settings (down deep in a user menu on this proj, but not a hidden system menu), and re-measuring, and repeat until the result is correct.

3) Set the overall gamma to the 2.2 standard. Mostly he had to tweak the levels down on the low part of the brightness curve (<20%).

4) This proj doesn't have detailed color management, so he could only make some sort of general tweaks to color balance. We watched some demo/reference scenes, and Doug would make tweaks by eye.


So, the obvious question was/is, what is the improvement, if any? Well we all agreed that the color balance was significantly improved. Reds looked natural, and colors stood out better in general without appearing oversaturated. As has been mentioned before, the display did seem dimmer overall, especially in the shadow regions. Doug did say that the uncalibrated gamma was way too low, and thus, to use his words, "the projector was coming out of black too fast" - meaning that the darker grays were too light compared to the brighter grays. It took some getting used to, and some folks thought it was still a little dark. Looked good to me! So while the results were not night and day, there was (to me) a definite improvement. I don't consider myself remotely qualified to say any more than that. I know T7's got some opinion on the results and the cost, but I'll let him explain so I don't put wrong words in his mouth.

Anyway, it was great to get a chance to see this being done, and likening it to the (very crude by comparison) color calibration I've done with my monitor for photography.
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
That's a very good description of the process, thanks PaulyT!

Until I got the JVC DLA-HD250 I haven't owned a display where the cost of an ISF calibration made sense. I wouldn't pay 25% of a car's value to get a tune up. That said the vast majority of of the things I've read from those that have had a calibration done were very positive. Because of that and knowing that I got a great deal on the PJ in the first place I decided it was time to get it done. It's not that I was unhappy with the picture quality, I thought it was fantastic. I just hoped that the calibration would make it even better.

I did my research and came to the conclusion that Lion AV was the best in the business. I was put in contact with Doug Weil, the Midwest representative. He's a super guy. We talked on the phone a few times and he let me know exactly what to expect. It was clear to me that in addition to knowing his trade extremely well, he was passionate about video quality. Doug very graciously adjusted his schedule to accommodate our GTG.

Prior to Doug's arrival we watched a few reference scenes and I looked for things to nit-pick. In my opinion the reds were a little too bright. Bright red objects just popped. green looked over saturated as well. I was very happy however with the black level and the detail that I was able to make-out in dark scenes. I'm nomprofessional but on a scale of 1-10 I'd score my uncalibrated set an 8.

I had matters to attend to so I wasn't there to see every step but the calibration took around 3 1/2 hours. One thing that Pauly didn't mention is that the calibrator's experience let him pretty-much know what tweaks were going to be needed before he even got started. His equipment was connected directly to the HDMI cable feeding the PJ because the Onkyo pre wouldnt recognize the HDMI signal from the test equipment.

Once the calibration was done we re-watched the reference scenes. First was the opening scene from The Dark Knight. The color was better but all of the detail in the blacks was gone. This had to be because of inaccuracies in the BD player, the pre, or both. The calibrator made some quick adjustments and things were better but I still felt I was missing the details in the dark areas. This is likely because I was used to the inaccurate pre calibrated Gamma settings, which let me see more detail than I should have. I switched to another disc, Baraka, and my concerns were mostly alleviated. In addition to better color, in the darkest scenes there was still noticeable black-on-black detail. I did think that the overall color was a little bit yellow in some scenes but not all. One limitation of my PJ is a lack of color management. That means that the color was about as close to 100% accurate as he was going to be able to achieve without adding an additional video processor to the signal chain. On the same 1-10 scale I'd rank the calibrated set at 9. I may up that rating over time as I get used to the corrected gamma.

The picture was pretty damn good to start with. There is a definate improvement but IMHO it's not a huge, night-and-day difference. Post calibration there was a noticable improvement in color accuracy, but the lack of on-board color management means that color can only be dialed in so much. Also, some of he adjustments were imperceptible to me. Another thing to consider is that the calibrator pretty much knew what it was going to take before he started taking measurements. This leads me to believe that most sets will be pretty darn consistent across the product line. With all of that in mind, I probably could have gotten 90% of the improvement by surfing AVS to find the settings used by people who have done the calibration on this model PJ and used an average of their settings.

So... Was it worth it? All things considered I'm glad that I had the calibration done. The picture is better and I have peace of mind knowing that its as good as it can be. I also got to meet and establish a relationship with one of the best in the business. Still, $450 is a lot money. If you are considering having a calibration done you have to ask yourself if a 10% improvement in picture quality is worth the cash.
 

mcad64

Well-Known Member
I have had the DLA RS10 for about 1-2 years now and I ask myself about the ISF calibration every now and again. I do not have a dedicated home theatre and I suspect the slight improvement would be lost in my room and with my old eyeballs!! As you stated it looks pretty damn good right out of the box. As you also stated I should probably just surf over to AVS and try someone else's settings!! In my case the extra 450(probably more like 600 here in Canada!!!) would be better spent on replacing my current subwoofer.
Mike
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
One thing to consider is the performance of the other displays in your home. There is a striking difference between my PJ and the other TVs in the house. I rarely watch TV in the other rooms but when I do I its hard to not notice the differences. If you watch a lot of material on displays other than your calibrated display you may take the time to try to match them within reason.
 

Huey

Well-Known Member
Famous
I started a thread either here or over at the old place about calibrating digital displays. I think the manufactures have listened to the videophiles and have produced a product that requires very little tweaking out of the box.

I kind of feel sorry for calibrators, as it probably takes the same amount of time to get a digital display to be perfect, but there isn't the wide variances as seen with analog displays, so there isn't that "wow" factor when completed.
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I don't think these guys need our pity. Certain types of people will always be willing to pay to get that last ounce of perfection. The consumer market may be shrinking but so will the number of calibrators.

I think the reduction in the cost of the display makes it hard for people to justify the expense. It's about value. I pay to tune-up my car, but not if it cost 25% of the price of a new car.
 

heeman

Well-Known Member
Famous
Towen7 said:
I don't think these guys need our pity. Certain types of people will always be willing to pay to get that last ounce of perfection. The consumer market may be shrinking but so will the number of calibrators.

I think the reduction in the cost of the display makes it hard for people to justify the expense. It's about value. I pay to tune-up my car, but not if it cost 25% of the price of a new car.


To me a car tune up is a little different to calibrating a display; I would say it is more like "blue printing" the engine. A tune up is more of a maintance procedure, not fine tuning for optimum performance.

So, calibration is for the optimization of perfomance, not routine maintance.

:text-imsorry: , Kick me in the ass the next time you see me!
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Yeah... That's a better analogy. im not competing with my display, and i didnt buy components to piece together. To me, it's still a value proposition.
 

heeman

Well-Known Member
Famous
Agreed........

I have been meaning to, I will call it re-adjust, my plasma with the ARIA Disc because it has been about 2 years, however never really find the time.

I guess another reason, is that the PQ looks good to us and I guess the little tweaks that we would make, would only make a small difference.

The PQ with your Projector and 110" Screen was awesome proir to the Calibration, and the tweaks that Doug made, just made it that much better.
 

walls

Well-Known Member
I had my 65" Mits CRT set ISF'd years ago and it made quite a large difference but I have yet to have my PJ done and its almost 5 years old now.
The difference in the two for me was that with the mits in order to calibrate it properly one had to go stomping through the service menus and after reading several horror stories about people jacking up thier TV's in those menus I fihured it was better to let a pro do it.
But with the PJ the menus are open to all and no matter how bad I screw something up I can always reset the PJ to its facory settings, then I found a 200+ page thread on my PJ on what settings to use with what screen and when I found my PJ/screen combos settings I used them...... and BINGO! The PJ looked really great so I figured no need to pay someone else to do it.

BTW I should also add that my 65" Mits is at least 8 years old and is still the best, most natural looking pic on any of my displays. IMO that is proof that if they are calibrated properly they last longer and look better then if left to the owners own settings or thier store defaults. Of course I am most likely one of the only people left with one of these beasts....LOL!!!
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
walls said:
I found a 200+ page thread on my PJ on what settings to use with what screen and when I found my PJ/screen combos settings I used them...... and BINGO! The PJ looked really great so I figured no need to pay someone else to do it.

I didn't want to come right out and say that in the beginning, but that's what I'll do in the future.
 

jamhead

Well-Known Member
walls said:
I had my 65" Mits CRT set ISF'd years ago and it made quite a large difference but I have yet to have my PJ done and its almost 5 years old now.
The difference in the two for me was that with the mits in order to calibrate it properly one had to go stomping through the service menus and after reading several horror stories about people jacking up thier TV's in those menus I fihured it was better to let a pro do it.
But with the PJ the menus are open to all and no matter how bad I screw something up I can always reset the PJ to its facory settings, then I found a 200+ page thread on my PJ on what settings to use with what screen and when I found my PJ/screen combos settings I used them...... and BINGO! The PJ looked really great so I figured no need to pay someone else to do it.

BTW I should also add that my 65" Mits is at least 8 years old and is still the best, most natural looking pic on any of my displays. IMO that is proof that if they are calibrated properly they last longer and look better then if left to the owners own settings or thier store defaults. Of course I am most likely one of the only people left with one of these beasts....LOL!!!


I have a 7 year old Toshiba 57" RPTV as my main display. I love that TV.
 
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