Had my screen ISF'd

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs Forum' started by NikB, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. NikB

    NikB
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    This afternoon Piers came round to isf my PHD8. I've been wanting to do it for a while but was concerned that after spending all that money I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

    I have always been happy with the picture for the most part but I wanted to see if we could get any more out of it. So Piers brought his equipment to see what could be done.

    It was quite fascinating to see just how badly calibrated they come from the factory. A lot of the settings that you can do yourself I had in the right spot but the colours were off. I hadn't noticed this until the screen was calibrated. Skin tones for an example are now much better. We ran DVE before and after the calibration though saw more after than before. The difference that it makes is not night and day but, like Piers says, if you want to squeeze the last 10% out of your screen then the isf treatment is the only way.

    Now I've had time to sit down and watch the screen I'm pleased with the differences. There's more vibrance and the picture looks almost smoother. It makes me just want to watch it more.

    The big question most would ask is - Is it worth the money? That depends on your point of view. It's not cheap but compared to modifying a car its peanuts. If you just want a plasma for the big tv thing then isf calibration isn't for you. If however you want the very best pic you can extract from your screen then it's worthwhile if you can afford it.

    Piers is a thoroughly nice bloke and it's well worth the time just to get to know him.
     
  2. mjb-av

    mjb-av
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    :hiya:

    How much does a service like this cost and can anyone recommend someone in essex.

    :clap:
     
  3. 7up4it

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    What an honest opinion, tempting though it is to have mine IFS'd i'm still not sure!

    How much did it cost if you don't mind me asking?

    Cheers

    7up4it
     
  4. Mep

    Mep
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  5. NikB

    NikB
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    He can also setup your audio system too so that it sounds just right.
     
  6. flexiondotorg

    flexiondotorg
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    Hi,

    As a thread already exists about just having your system ISF'd by Piers, I hope you don't mind if I share my observations having had a visit from Piers yesterday? :)

    You can see my kit list in my signature below, the only thing to note is that I have all sources connected directly to the VisionDVI with one DVI-D connection from the VisionDVI to the panel.

    I finished installing my system in November 2005 and have spent the last few months clocking up the required viewing hours and learning everything I could about what the Lumagen VisionDVI and PHD8 can do so I could fully exploit them. So, before Piers arrived I had already configured a good deal of stuff.

    • Native resolution, [email protected]/60hz and [email protected]/60hz all perfectly aligned.
    • Setup the correct input/output colour levels.
    • Configured the overscan for all sources and an aspects.
    • Completed auto gamma calibrations from an 100 IRE test pattern via the Lumagen service menu.
    • Set up black and white levels using DVE, AVIA and the Lumagen test patterns on all inputs.
    • Done 5 point colour calibration (by eye) using the Lumagen and the it's built in colour filtering via the service.
    • Fixed the contrast fluctuation problem in the PHD8 via the service menu.
    • Corrected Y/C delay on all inputs.
    • Reported PAL de-interlacing and frame rate conversion bugs with the VisionDVI and helped the Lumagen engineers test the fixes. All resolved since December 2005.

    On the whole I was very pleased with the picture quality of both Freeview and DVD from what I had completed myself but I coud see some areas for improvement. Most noticeable was that there was some green and red push in the greyscale which was visible as green/red shimmer on some flesh tones but more apparent on old black and white footage/movies. Lower quality Freeview broadcasts and largely dark scenes via Freeview could exhibit obvious pixelation, macro blocking and colour banding. Dark scenes via DVD were too dark and on all sources dark greys/blacks had a green/red "fizz" to them.

    I had always planned to have ISF calibration as part of my install, but given the amount of work I had done myself I was becoming doubtful as to just how much improvement ISF caibration would make.

    Enter Piers stage right with some very pricey kit. First of all, if you are even the slightest bit interested in understanding more about ISF then paying for a visit from a calibrator is worth it for the education alone. Piers was more than happy to explain the details of the measurements and how the various configuration changes interact. Fasinating stuff, I loved it and so will you. The visit filed my knowledge gap with regard to calibrating, so much so taht I might invest in some basic equipment of my own so I can do a better job of setting up the systems I have insalled in the bedroom and kitchen.

    Piers was at my house for 5 hours and calibrated my plasma and my Lumagen. The Lumagen inputs were calibrated for Freeview, DVD and PS/2 for both [email protected] and [email protected] It was a pain staking process. The Freeview input settings were copied to the other inputs not currently in use so I have a close to ISF setup when I add new sources in the future.

    The end result of ISF was surprising, the first thing I noticed is that the colours are more vivid on all sources. The red/green push is completely elliminated, shimmering flesh tones are completely gone, black and white movies/footage are perfect, pixelation/macro blocking is significantly reduced, as is colour banding. In fact macr blocking and colour banding are now only evident on the lower bitrate Freeview broadcast, DVD is prestine. The picture is also much more stable now. For example, large areas of solid coloured backgrounds (such as interior walls) do not shimmer anymore and very dark/black areas of the screen don't have a green/red "fizz" to them, even when close up to the plasma. The picture has a greater sense of depth, some might say it looks more 3D but that is not an accurate description of the effect. Foreground objects are now shown in better relief to the backdrop beind them so you get a better sense of perspective. Dark scenes from DVD are now fixed and the difference in picture quality between DVD and Freeview has grown, they looked pretty similar before ISF but there is now a huge difference. DVD is significantly better quality than Freeview and you need to consider that Freeview is looking much better than it used to.

    It is hard to quantify, in words, how much better then picture looks now than it did prior to ISF but as part of the service you do get to see before and after measurements and charts which do show how much real improvement has been made.

    Charts and measurements are all well and good but last night when I watching Freeview and some films I found my eyes looking at areas of the picture where I knew I would previously have expected to see shimmering, macro blocking or other atifacts. There were none to be seen. So ISF has fixed the picture problems I had identified and also improved the picture in ways I hadn't expected. I don't need a chart to demonstrate the improvement, it is plainly evident from the picture quality in front of me. I am a very happy customer.

    So if you are thinking about having ISF done yourself and are unsure if it is worth the money consider this.

    If, like me, you have learnt as much as you can about your equipment and tweaked it as much as possible using DVE/AVIA and other test patterns and filters then you will benefit from ISF as both an educational exercise and by getting the final adjusments made to your system that you can't complete by eye alone. Some of the changes are subtle but the end result is still visibly better.

    However, if you don't understand the complexities of your video processor (if you have one) or you have never used DVE/AVIA, haven't compensated for overscan then the picture quality improvements will be massive once ISF'd. You will be amazed by how much better you picture looks at the end of the process.

    UPDATE

    Since writting this my wife and I have caught up on this weeks recorded programmes, Prison Break, House and Desperate House Wives. My wife, has for the first time ever, acknowledged that she can see that the picture quality has improved. This is no small point, she has never volunteered something like this in the past. In her words, "the colours are better and the are no blocks anymore, I like it". Given that she doesn't know how much the ISF calibration cost she is not saying this to justify the price. I will get my bollocking about that in due course ;-)
     
  7. Mep

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    Nice report mate.
     
  8. Fossil

    Fossil
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    Very nice report, just leaves me to find the funding and get it done myself, mind you not been helped by the head gasket going on the car, hot water cylinder springing a leak and the shower pump giving in all in the last 6 weeks.
     
  9. AndyH

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    One question I have..

    Does the ISF calibration take into account the fact you can tweak source and target devices? In other words, would a chap such as Piers dive into the setup menus of your DVD player, set top box, media PC etc.

    In my case, I've set my PV500 by eye with DVE and knowledge gained from this forum and elsewhere. I've ignored the fact Sky+ has its own contrast setting, I've only made obvious tweaks to defaults on my 868 HDMI output and I've adjusted my NVidia outputs for desktop and overlay so things don't look over saturated.

    If the calibration took into account all those interacting variables then I may well be tempted (once I've got a Sky HD box and upgraded my VGA card in the media PC)
     
  10. flexiondotorg

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    Hi,

    Well, maybe Piers or Gordon would be better placed to answer that question fully. But Peirs did check that my source devices were correctly configured as part of the setup, fortunately they were. I don't know how much they might do with regard to a HTPC though as I don't have one.

    I suggest you contact Piers and Gordon directly to find out what they can do for your HTPC stuff, but I am in no doubt that your DVD player and set top box settings will be factored into the calibration.
     
  11. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    ISF calibration requires detailed set up of the entire chain. So yes, we would look at the source and display and any bits in between.

    Gordon
     
  12. WSH

    WSH
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    Just out of interest, I have the Sky box on medium contrast (and cinema mode on the plasma). Is medium or low contrast the recommended setting?
     
  13. Mep

    Mep
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    I was told low by piers....and he was right of course :)
     
  14. WSH

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    Thanks for the quick response! I've had it on medium for 130 hours now so any damage is now done I suppose. I'll change it to low as recommended.
     
  15. Mep

    Mep
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    wont do any damage, it will just look better on low
     
  16. WSH

    WSH
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    :smashin:
     

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