Monday, October 01, 2007

Panasonic TH-37PX60U Plasma Calibration

Another Panasonic so soon! I guess calibrations go in phases. For awhile it was Sonys. This plasma panel is a bit older than the 700U I wrote about recently. My client has had it about a year and he was ready to unlock its full potential. This 37" TV is a nice size for those of you who have an entertainment center or AV cabinet. It fits comfortably in or on many different types of furniture. If you want a TV that doesn't draw attention to itself, this panel is an excellent choice.

Since this is a 720p (1024x768 native) display, I set my pattern generator for this resolution. I also set the cable box and upconverting DVD player in the client's system for these resolutions. It is always best to feed a display its native format whenever possible to minimize any video processing done by the set. Color primaries measured a bit oversaturated for green and red and near-perfect for blue, typical of Panasonic plasmas. Interestingly, this client had the color temp set to a warmer than D65 level. Most people are accustomed to a bluish tint on their TVs and set the color temp to normal or even cool. This is the first client I've had who actually had become accustomed to a too-warm white balance. I also noticed a fair amount of noise in the various test patterns I displayed. Unlike the 700U, the sharpness control did not help this condition.

After doing rough settings in the user menu, I entered service to adjust white balance, and black/white levels. This was tricky at first as going into service sets the TV to Vivid mode. I was fortunately able to toggle between user and service to force the TV into Cinema mode. Cinema is the only mode that allows different settings for each input. The other modes have global settings. Once I set the Cinema mode, white balance was easily adjusted to within 100k of D65. Setting black level in service also allowed me a much finer adjustment than the user menu. Exiting service, I immediately noticed a huge reduction in noise. The multi-burst patterns were now very clean and sharp. Obviously, color adjustments on this set have quite an effect on overall noise levels. As with the 700U, the noise reduction controls in user had no visible effect. The only other adjustment required was to reduce the color and tint controls a bit to compensate for the oversaturated green and red primaries. My trusty CA-6X analyzer came through once again to help me align the decoder more accurately than I could using filters. To my knowledge, no other colorimeter has this feature. It allows me to adjust the color and tint controls to align the decoder to the measured primaries rather than the reference. This is far more precise than filters which only work if the primaries are correct and you're calibrating a CRT.

As usual, my client and I checked out some content when I was finished. Discovery HD over a Cablevision feed looked stunning (I really love plasmas for HD!). The color resolution was so much better than before. My client commented that he could really see an increased color palette. There's nothing like lifting the veil of image inaccuracy and seeing what the content creator intended rather than what the television's manufacturer intended. Raiders of the Lost Ark from a Sony upconverting DVD player looked great too. This THX-certified transfer is an excellent reference for any player or display. The clarity of this DVD release is matched by few other titles. Now that we're on the eve of having all our movies in hi-def, it's still gratifying to see standard-def DVD done so well.

Just like the 700U I reported on recently, this TV is a top candidate for calibration. The client and I were very happy with the results. He considered it well worth the price and I considered it well worth my time. A properly calibrated plasma is probably the closest we can get to the venerable CRT in terms of dynamic range, contrast ratio and color saturation. I do suggest viewing plasmas in a light-controlled room. Reflections from lights and windows can be seen on the glass screen. The image is plenty bright enough however, to compete with indirect light sources. As my client had his panel in a cabinet, he solved the problem of light reflection quite nicely.

Another happy customer, thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Alfredo said...

Nice to see another Panasonic plasma calibration, mine is TH-42PX60EH (European model), I would like to post my calibration just for comparison but unfortunately I'm unable to do it (no images). :(

Just FYI, in my case the more accurated primaries were achieved with the Normal mode, anyway, I must redo the calibration... I'm improving my skills (I'm not a pro). :)