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ISF Calibration, worth it?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by zAndy1, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. zAndy1

    zAndy1
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    Hi all,
    I'm tempted to get my new Pioneer 433MXE ISF Calibrated (by Gordon of course) but just wanted some views on this from people that have had it done. Is the improvement worth the outlay? What was the main difference about the picture after calibration that made you think 'wow, money well spent'? It's not a fortune admittedly but it's also a good few copies of AVIA! Is it not possible to get close to a calibrated PQ just by using AVIA or are we talking a whole different kettle of fish here?
    I'd be interested to hear peoples experiences..

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  2. thxultra

    thxultra
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    any thoughts from anyone with a isf cal panny 5 thinking of getting it done aswell
     
  3. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Hi Andy,

    Hope someone will come along soon and say they liked it!

    In the meantime..

    ISF calibration is designed to make a display more accurate in its reproduction of moving images. There are standards set down for how monitors should behave and the SMPTE made recommendations about how they should be used as well. The idea is to get the display to behave more in the manner of the monitor being used in the tele-cine bay when the film was transferred to video. To do this the front panel controls need to be set accurately to start. This is where AVIA or VE come in to play. I also use these discs to adjust overscan and geometry to be correct wherever possible as well.

    After this is done greyscale analysis is carried out to see how far from the standard of D65 the unit deviates. Then service menu or user controls are adjusted to make the unit track accurately and front panel controls are re-checked. During the process other facets of the display devices characteristics are checked and adjusted to be more accurate where possible.

    I’ve seen many clients units now. Some have been improved quite considerably by calibration others just a little. I have had customers who have owned AVIA and VE but have still been unable to set front panel controls accurately due to misunderstandings on the way devices interact with each other. It’s a kin to having a set of spanners and a Haynes workshop manual and thinking, I am a mechanic. Indeed you can get your engine and suspension working relatively efficiently but without specialist tools and training you won’t want to go racing…..

    I do not guarantee everyone will like the image after I am finished but I do guarantee the device will be measurably more accurate in its representation of the original content.


    Gordon
     
  4. graham.myers

    graham.myers
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    I set my PJ up with Video Essentials by eye.

    I got a new player (denon 3800), new cables (Van Damme component) and painted the room a dark maroon colour. The improvment even without calibration was notciable.

    I then got Gordon in to calibrate a "few weeks" after the upgrade. After setup we used Spiderman R4 to check it and it did look very good, almost 3D like. My pj had too much gain on green - I have to say I hadn't really noticed - it didn't look too bad. But once ISF'ed it took it to the next level.

    Definatley worth the spondoolies (and the hassle from the wife for spending it!)
     
  5. JamesTapp

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    Hi,

    I had my Panny calibrated by Gordon in December. No matter how hard I tried using the standard menus, the colours never looked right - skin tones either looked too red or too grey.

    Gordon spent 3 hours getting the plasma set up, and the difference was very noticeable - suffice to say that the standard menus are now set to zero by Gordon (with the exception of sharpness -8). And I never have any need to alter them. The images are more lifelike - especially skin tones, but overall the picture appears to have much more depth.

    The brain is good at compensating, and so using the PC to determine the actual colour output is a little like using a Sound Meter to determine the right settings for your amp and speakers, you can do it by ear - but accurate numbers need less subjective measurements.

    Hope that helps,

    James
     
  6. RobsterD

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    I asked this question about a year ago with my Panny D4,still haven't been able to find someone in my area,Southampton.Gordon is a little too far I fear,anyone recommend a ISF eng in the South and what price is the average visit ?
    Cheers
    Rob
     
  7. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Rob,

    Email me and I might be able to put you in touch with someone. Or you can wait till I am down your neck of the woods in a few weeks.

    Gordon
     
  8. BruceG

    BruceG
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    I had my Pioneer 502 ISF'd by Gordon last year, and in short, the answer is Yes - it is definitely worth it. I had a go at setting it up with AVIA and VE, but (and it's a big but) the scope for making a complete hash of it all is enormous. That's why manufacturers hide all manner of picture control parameters in service menus - not 'cos they hate us consumers, but because if you don't know what you're doing it's very easy to f*^£ it up;)

    Gordon - are you coming "darn sarf" again soon? I'd like you to drop in and have a look at something for me (fnar, fnar)!

    Bruce
     
  9. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Travelling through Yorkshire and London area next week probably. Might be able to stick my head in.

    Gordon
     
  10. zAndy1

    zAndy1
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    Gordon,
    The comment 'I do not guarantee everyone will like the image after I am finished' worries me. If I'd paid £nnn and didn't like the image I have to say I'd be pretty annoyed! I'm trying to avoid stating the costs here as I'm not sure if you want them advertising too much but it's not an insignificant amount and if I felt the image was less pleasing to my eye afterwards I'd be pretty disappointed. Would you be able to look at the PQ as soon as you walked in the room and be able to say whether it was wrong or not and whether the improvement would be subtle or substantial? I wouldn't mind risking it if you felt there would be a big improvement but if you felt it wasn't far out anyway I might not bother (obviously I'd pay you for your time to that point).

    By the way any idea what day next week you'd be in my area , oh and do you do evening appointments?

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  11. JamesTapp

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    Andy,

    Gordon's statement on his comprehensive report "may contain traces of nuts" should also worry you :devil:

    Ask yourself this. Gordon is setting up your screen to as accurately as possible reflect the colours that the filmmakers wanted you to see. What is there not to like? :D

    Are you running your screen at the same contrast and brightness settings that the manufacturer has set? No? why settle for the colours they have set?

    The manufacturers are more interested in brightness than they are in displaying the right colours, I have used a screen where the colour of the Pie chart segment on my PC was yellow, and on the Plasma it was lime green.....

    You are probably going to spend less than 10% of the screen cost to give you a stunning picture with more depth, detail and realism than you have today. I spent more on the lump of metal fixing my plasma to the wall that Panasonic call a bracket.

    By the way, I don't guarantee that you will like it either, and this post may contain traces of nuts.... but you could always come back after the calibration and post your thoughts, which is what I did in December.....

    :hiya:

    Good luck,

    James
     
  12. RobsterD

    RobsterD
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    Definately interested in a visit Gordon can you give a 'ball park' figure on how much the visit + caliberation would cost.
    Cheers
    Rob
     
  13. codlord

    codlord
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    People,

    Sorry, just gonna stick my moderator oar in here...

    Don't think there is anything wrong with the thread so far, but if you are interested in booking Gordons services or want prices please contact Gordon direct. If A/V dealers started doing business on the forum we would act to stop it so we have to take the same stance here.

    Hope I haven't offended anyone, if anyone has any issues or differing opinions please contact me.
     
  14. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I am not at all offended by this. I always ask folk to contact me directly and they will be sent a price list, along with an explanation of how to work out the likely costs.

    Andy,
    I just put that sentence in because just as there are folk who may like a distorted audio sound there may be some who like a distorted video image. I've not found anyone yet, thankfully. I have never found a display that cannot be improved by calibration (when it is possible to access the controls to do this.

    Gordon
     
  15. steve36

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    Gordon,
    Thanks for contributing to a very interesting thread.
    I like many others may have seen plasmas in shops and thought 'I prefer the xxx because the colours look a) brighter or b) more realistic' than the yyy'. When in fact the shop has just taken a unit out of a box and plugged it in.

    When I heard about setting up I thought this could'nt be that complicated, after this thread I am sure that I was wrong, and that I will have to allocate some money to having it set up after running in. Otherwise I will not be getting the best from the unit.

    Anyway thanks again for the info.
    See you in the future thread on the Keydigital card (eventually !).

    Steve
    :)
     
  16. Dick Scratcher

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    Gordon did the business on my VW11HT when I first got it and the difference in may ways was startling. What surprised me was how much I'd got it wrong when I set the PJ up by eye. In my pursuit to get every last drop of contrast from the picture I was destroying the ability to see fine detail and subtle shading, the very things that create that cinematic 'look'. Last year I bought a CC40 filter and a 37" Panasonic 4 and had no hesitation in having Gordon back to recalibrate the VW12 with the filter and do the business with the plasma. The PJ is so much better than before, to the point where I don't bother looking for black references in the picture any more when watching a movie. As for the plasma, well, if the wife has noticed the improvement it's gotta be good. It makes you wonder what the manufacturers think they're doing when they set them up in the factory. Thank God we've got someone to sort the mess out. Unequivocal recommendation.
     
  17. symanski

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    My 2p worth.

    I've seen Gordon's work on a couple of occassions. Very impressive. Colours were just right, exactly how they should be.

    All the best,

    Dr John Sim.
     
  18. philipb

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    Not much to add to what's alrwady been said by Gordon's happy customers. I would say that until you've had it calibrated you do not know just how good the 433 MXE can be.

    Money well spent - just do it.
     
  19. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony
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    In a word, Yes!

    Gordon calibrated my Loewe Vitros back in September, I had previously used video essentials to get a good picture - what Gordon achieved in a morning was an indescribable difference - it finally looked like my hardware investment had paid off as it looked like hi-def...

    ...as of this month I have upgraded my display device to a Toshiba MT-8 / Stewart Firehawk combo and Gordon is returning to astonish me once again with his visual prowess!

    I have no hesitation in recommending gordon and ISF calibration in general

    Regards to all

    M
     
  20. DJP

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    I had my 433MXE calibrated by Gordon last month. Well worth the effort.

    The Avia disk is okay but I found it extremely difficult to set the contrast levels correctly using this as Plasma's don't bloom the same way that CRT's do. (As an aside the contrast level of the Pio as shipped is way too high...eye burning brght)

    In addition, I can't see how it possible to set up the white levels correctly in the integrator menu by just using the Avia disk the bits of filter provided and the old eye balls.

    Another point, the Avia disk is NTSC. The Pio433MXE saves different setups for each of the inputs and each different type of signal it is fed with. So, for example, if you change the settings using Avia you can set up the output from your DVD when playing NTSC sources. However, the settings for playing PAL sources are quite likely to be a little different so will require further tweaking or a PAL setup disk - not sure I would trust the NTSC to PAL conversion in a DVD to be that accurate.

    Gordon starts off by measuring the output of your screen to see what it's like and then adjusts to get the best possible fit to how it should be using - in my case - both PAL and NTSC calibration disks. Given the number of measurements he has to make with that nifty camera of his I know that I could never come even close to the same level of calibration regardless as to what set-up disk was used.

    Whether or not you like the result is difficult to judge. Personally, it is obvious to me that the colours are now far more life like. Some people like more cartoony colours and brighter images. TV manufacturers often deliberately push the blue up too high as it looks better to the average punter and sells more screens. the end result is that we tend to get bombarded by poorly set up TV's and Plasmas in show rooms.

    Having lived with the new settings for 6 or so weeks I wouldn't go back. The only modifications I have had to make were very minor tweaks to the display when viewing Sky so that the output delivered by Sky more closely matched that seen from my DVD player - it's a shame Gordon can't control the output Sky produces :D

    Hope this helps.

    Derek
     
  21. akash

    akash
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    Having Gordon calibrate my plasma correctly was one the best things.

    He helped me a great deal last year in choosing a plasma and as I have had previous calibrations done for my normal tube televisions i knew that i needed someone who knew their job well.

    The difference in picture quality is believe it or not clearly visible, an effect which i can only describe as a 3d view/depth in the picture is one of the benefits, colours are vibrant and you will get less eye strain.

    And the picture will feel like you are a a cinema.

    Hope this helps.

    Ax
     
  22. nhk

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    So how much should I expect to pay for ISF calibration of a 50" plasma (Pio or Panny)?

    I see the threads saying it is worth it - but that surely depends on the cost.
     
  23. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    The value of EVERYTHING is different for different folk.

    The cost for a calibration is anywhere between £175 and upwards dependant on many factors. For exact pricing you can email me.

    Gordon
     
  24. ASH1

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    Gordon,

    on a slightly different note, which plasma would you recommend between £3000 and £4000, bearing in mind you can get a panny 42" for £3,500 or less? :confused:

    ASH1
     
  25. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I bought a 433 MXE. I'd look at the Fujituse based on the Panny4 glass, the Panny5 and the MXE. All have good points.....

    Gordon
     
  26. graham.myers

    graham.myers
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    Gordon, didn't you mention there was some "issue" with certain plasmas and x-boxes?
     
  27. ASH1

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    Gordon,

    thanks for the info, I have a panny TX32PH40 at the moment which is the only crt that I know of that does pal progressive. Is it worth me having it calibrated and can you please pm me with a price. :)

    ASH1
     
  28. jericho

    jericho
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    hi gordon
    i have a toshiba 50" rptv model 50wh18
    just wanted to know how much roughly it would be to calabrate it and when u are down in london next to do it?
     
  29. NicH

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    I've just had Gordan setup my Toshiba, and despite him saying it was pretty well set up to begin with there is a noticable improvement. Thanks Gordan
     
  30. thxultra

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    A question for gordon or anyone who knows

    if you get your plasma calibarated do you need it done again if you change one of your sourses ie. dvd digibox etc.Going to get it done soon but want to change my digibox to one with hard drive but not pacetwin. Waiting for all the other makes to come out with theres.Dont want to have to get it done twice.
     

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