Picture Perfect Step 2

In Step 2 we tackle the picture processing features and advise you how to set them
In Step 2 we help you choose the best settings for the various picture processing features on your TV.
If you make a mistake... don’t be concerned that you might break your TV. All TVs come with a reset or factory default setting which you can always use to return it to its factory settings and start again. In fact it might be a good idea to do a reset before moving on to Step 2, just in case you changed some of the other picture settings previously. If you do reset, don’t forget to repeat Step 1

To start, let's take a look at the various image processing features that are on most modern TVs. This is obviously a general guide, so not all TVs will have these features and not all manufacturers use the same names but hopefully you will get an understanding for how these features work.

The reality is that whilst these features might sound useful, they don’t necessarily improve your TV picture. Sometimes they actually introduce mistakes into the image.

In the July 2012 Home Cinema podcast, the editorial team behind Picture Perfect discuss the Step 2 guide. Click the play button to hear more about why manufacturers create these features and why, on the whole, they should be switched off.

Time:01:00:28 | File Size: 83mb | Direct Link

Energy saving features

These are not found on all TVs. If you don't have a feature like this on your TV, you can skip to the next section of Step 2.

Feature Name on different TVs Recommended Setting
Energy Saving Eco / Energy Saving Off Details
Saving energy is a great idea and by selecting the correct Picture Mode in Step 1, you've already ensured your TV is eco friendly. Don't, however, be tempted to use any other energy saving feature on your TV.

If your TV has any of these settings, make sure that they're switched off as they will affect the brightness of your image, causing it to fluctuate. Most modern TVs do not use excessive amounts of energy, so you don't need to resort to a power saving mode that dims and brightens the image in an unnatural way, ruining the image stability.

Dynamic brightness features

These are not found on all TVs. If you don't have a feature like this on your TV, you can skip to the next section of Step 2.

Feature Name on different TVs Recommended Setting
Dynamic Brightness Dynamic Contrast / Black Enhancer / Dynamic Backlight Off Details
This control attempts to give the impression of brighter whites and darker blacks by changing the contrast and brightness of the picture from scene to scene. As with the energy saving modes, it will dim and brighten your TV picture in an unnatural way and ruin your image stability.

There could be other features on your TV that also affect the picture quality, such as Black Enhancer and Dynamic Backlight. With all these features, the TV is trying to make the difference between black and white as noticeable as possible but in doing so, you often lose detail in very dark or very bright parts of the picture. We always recommend that you turn off these features, to keep your picture as detailed and accurate as possible.

Dimming features

Dimming features are only present on some LED TVs. If you don't have a feature like this on your TV, you can skip to the next section of Step 2.

Feature Name on different TVs Recommended Setting
Dimming Local Dimming / Global Dimming See Details Details
If you have an LED TV it may have settings for Local or Global Dimming.

LCD TVs need some kind of illumination at the back to create the light in the image. Standard LCD TVs use fluorescent lighting. LED LCD TVs (inaccurately named LED TVs) use LED lights at the back or side. LED back or side lighting is thinner and requires less energy.

Dimming features attempt to make the dark areas of the picture look darker by dimming the LED lights. Local dimming works by dividing the picture into a number of zones (the actual number will vary depending on the make and model) and then dimming the LEDs in the zones which match the darkest areas of the image. This allows the blacks to appear blacker but at the expense of detail in the darker parts of the picture. Global dimming works by dimming the entire image in darker scenes and again, whilst blacks appear blacker, detail in the dark areas is lost and the overall brightness of the image fluctuates.

If you have a full backlit LED TV, then the best setting for local or global dimming is likely to be Low. Not sure whether you have full backlit TV or not? We have produced a list of full backlit TVs here.
If you don't have a full backlit LED TV, switch global and local dimming off.

Sharpening and Noise Reduction features

These are not found on all TVs. If you don't have any features like these on your TV, you can skip to the next section of Step 2.

Feature Name on different TVs Recommended Setting
Edge Enhancement Edge Enhancer / Detail Enhancer / Reality Creation / Resolution+ / Super Resolution Off Details
Whilst the various names used for this type of feature suggest that they enhance detail or add resolution, this is not actually the case. In general these features work by adding an artificial outline around the edges of objects to give the impression of greater detail. However, it's an illusion because while the image might initially appear more defined, in actual fact the edge enhancement removes some fine detail and actually reduces the resolution. The best approach is to turn off any edge enhancement features to ensure that you are watching an unadulterated high definition image.
Noise Reduction MPEG Noise Reduction / Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) Off Details
Some of the most commonly seen (and least understood) features on a TV are the noise reduction controls, and there are usually two types, MPEG Noise Reduction and Digital Noise Reduction (DNR), both of which are designed to reduce artefacts often found in standard definition digital material.

These artefacts are the result of digital compression which is a process that literally squeezes data into a smaller file size by throwing out most of it. As a result of this you get blocking (the image is composed of obvious blocks), most commonly seen on heavily compressed digital TV broadcasts. The other artefact is called mosquito noise and is characterised by fizzing around the edges of moving objects. It often looks like people are surrounded by a swarm of mosquitos which is where the name comes from and is also caused by excessive compression.

The noise reduction features on TVs use processing to suppress these artefacts but in doing so they rob the image of fine detail. They also tend to work better on static images and struggle when dealing with movement, resulting in blurring of the moving objects. The MPEG and Digital Noise Reduction features can be used sparingly on heavily compressed standard definition material but they should never be used with high definition material. If in doubt, turn off any noise reduction controls.

Motion Enhancement

Motion Enhancement features are not found on all TVs. If you don't have a feature like this on your TV, you can skip this section of Step 2.

Feature Name on different TVs Recommended Setting
Motion Enhancement Motion Plus / Motion Flow / TruMotion / Intelligent Frame Creation / Active Motion See Details Details
Your TV picture is composed of a sequence of static images which creates the illusion of motion. These images are referred to as frames. Sometimes fast moving objects can judder as they move across the screen because they take a small number of frames to move a long distance within the picture. Directors try to avoid showing you such visuals but sometimes it's unavoidable, like in live sporting events.

Motion Enhancement features insert new images into the sequence of frames in an attempt to smooth fast movement in the picture. Your TV analyses each individual frame of video, and those frames around it, and guesses what the inserted frames should look like. However, the new frames often contain errors, which make the resulting TV picture worse. These errors sometimes look like a ghosting of objects. And sometimes parts of the background momentarily follow moving objects around. Motion Enhancement can also make motion appear unnaturally smooth, especially when watching movies.
The technical term for this process of creating new frames is Frame Interpolation.

So when should you use Motion Enhancement? Well if you own a LCD TV and you watch a lot of sport, you might want to try the Motion Enhancement feature to see if it makes the action look smoother. However avoid using it when watching films or TV dramas and if you own a plasma TV, never use it because plasma TVs already have excellent motion handling. If in doubt, turn any Motion Enhancement off.

Cadence Detection

Cadence Detection is not a feature found on all TVs. If you don't have a feature like this on your TV, you can skip this section of Step 2.

Feature Name on different TVs Recommended Setting
Cadence Detection Film Mode / Clear Cinema / Real Cinema On Details
Whilst we would normally recommend turning your TV's picture features off, cadence detection is the exception to the rule and we suggest always leaving it on.

This feature is most commonly called Film Mode and it engages a process called cadence detection which helps when watching film based content on your TV. Cadence is used when converting film based content into video for TV broadcast or DVD. Your TV needs to detect this cadence and then correctly process it so that the content is shown without any artefacts or loss in picture resolution.

Some TVs only offer cadence detection when receiving an interlaced signal but when available we recommend leaving it on.

Colour Temperature, Colour Gamut and Gamma

These controls are not found on all TVs. If you don't have any features like these on your TV, you have finished Step 2.

Feature Name on different TVs Recommended Setting
Colour Temperature Colour Temperature / Colour Balance / White Balance Warm Details
It might seem strange to refer to colour having a temperature but if you think of the flame on your gas hob it starts to make sense. The hotter the flame the bluer it looks and the colder the flame, the more red there is.

This is exactly the same principle that is used when measuring how white something is in video terms. The colour temperature relates specifically to white, the higher the temperature the bluer the white looks, the lower the temperature the more red there appears.

Whilst a bluer white is technically hotter, it is often referred to as appearing 'cooler' and people like it because the whites look more brilliant, although that's just an optical illusion. Detergent manufacturers have been using this particular trick for years, putting blue dye in the washing powder to get your clothes "whiter than white".

The film and TV industry use a specific standard for the colour temperature of white, this is called D65 and it represents a piece of white paper illuminated by the midday sun. In order for your TV to adhere to the director's vision, it needs to reproduce white as closely as possible to D65.

The colour temperature control on your TV will provide a series of user selectable presets that are normally called Standard, Cool and Warm. In most cases, the Warm preset (or Warm 2 if is available) will be the closest to the industry standard of D65 and is normally the colour temperature used in the Movie, Cinema or THX modes.

Feedback in our Picture Perfect forum indicates that people are surprised that Standard is not the best colour temperature and they are somewhat resistant to choosing Warm. We have reviewed many TVs here at AVForums and find overwhelmingly that Warm (or Warm 2 if it is available) offers the closest picture setting to the standard.
Colour Gamut Colour Gamut / Colour Space / Colour Decoding / Live Colour / Vivid Colour / Colour Enhancement See Details Details
Manufacturer Gamut setting
LG BT.709
Panasonic Rec.709
Samsung Auto
Sharp Standard
Toshiba BT.709
A TV picture is composed of the three primary colours of red, green and blue, it takes those three colours and combines them to create all the other colours. The Colour Gamut of a TV relates to the number of different colours that the TV can create by combining red, green and blue.

The more colours that a TV can create, the wider its colour gamut and the more saturated and vivid the colours will appear. If the colour gamut is too vivid, then the picture will appear unnatural and whilst some people might like these over saturated colours, when was the last time a football pitch looked neon green in real life?

Just as with with the colour temperature of white, the film and TV industry uses a specific standard for colour gamut, which is called Rec709. The colour gamut on your TV should be as close as possible to Rec.709, meaning it replicates the industry standard used by all film and TV producers when making their DVDs, Blu-rays and TV programmes.

If you followed Step 1 and selected the Movie, Cinema or THX mode on your TV, it should automatically choose the correct colour gamut. However, if your TV has a separate colour gamut control it will provide any of the following presets - Auto, Standard, Native, Wide, EBU, DCI, BT601, B.T709 and Rec.709. In most cases, the BT.709 or Rec.709 preset is the best choice but in the case of Samsung the best choice is Auto and in the case of Sharp the best choice is Standard.

Features such as Live Colour, Vivid Colour or Colour Enhancement expand the colour gamut with the result that the colours no longer adhere to the correct colour standards and what you are seeing is not what the director intended. It is best to leave any such colour enhancement feature off.
Gamma Gamma 2.2 Details
This feature is designed to take advantage of how human beings perceive dark and light, in order to store and transmit video efficiently. Our eyes can differentiate between different levels of darkness much better than they can differentiate between different levels of brightness. The ability for our eyes to perceive light and dark follows a specific shape which is called the Gamma Curve.

If video images are not gamma encoded, they will allocate too much detail to bright areas where our eyes find it difficult to differentiate, and too little detail to dark areas where our eyes are particularly sensitive.

The gamma control on a TV usually includes a selection of different curves that are identified by numbers, such as 2.0, 2.2, 2.4 and the higher the number, the darker the overall image. As a general rule, we recommend a gamma setting of 2.2 and this is normally the gamma used in the Movie, Cinema or THX mode.

Did we help you choose the right settings? Did we help clarify what the features do? Then please...

Go to Step 3This concludes Step 2 of the Picture Perfect guide. Hopefully our videos and instructions have helped you select better settings for the various picture processing functions on your TV.

By chosing these settings, you have prepared your TV for the final stage of our setup guide, Step 3, in which you will set up the Brightness, Contrast, Colour and Sharpness controls using test patterns.

If you want to discuss any aspect of setting up your TV, you will find help at our our Picture Perfect forum.

  • Published
    Oct 6, 2013
  • Page views
The AVForums Picture Perfect Campaign
AVForums' Picture Perfect Campaign to raise awareness that most TVs will look better with a bit of easy tweaking.
We explain why, and show you how to improve the picture.


Introduction Is your TV Picture Perfect?
Step 1 Step 1 - start with the basics
Step 2 Step 2 - picture processing
Step 3 Step 3 - main picture controls
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