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Panasonic PF50 Pro Plasma- initial impressions

SteveTM

Active Member
There seems to be very little mention of Panasonics commercial displays nowadays so if anyone is curious here are some impressions from a few hours initial use of a 60PF50E.

Before talking about the PF50 though I should mention its predecessor the PF30. I have used three different 50" PF30s over the past couple of years (all manufactured early 2011) and they all suffered from the dynamic gamma/fluctuating brightness issue which to my knowledge can't be fixed with a firmware update by the user. My older 50" PF30s were also prone to brief image retention - for example with high contrast white text, also a little line bleed and one set had quite severe vertical banding on the right side- so I was a little apprehensive about the new model due to these problems. Underneath all these issues however on the PF30 was a lovely clean and satisfying picture quality.

Onto the 60PF50E - The dynamic gamma/brightness is to my eyes FIXED! To be honest I expected it would have been by now but its quite a relief to get a more consistent stable image. Normal mode still seems to have a little bit of dynamic adjustment going on but Cinema, Dynamic and Monitor modes seem very stable.

Image retention- not noticed anything major so far with a few test cards and bright white text so I'm presuming at this early stage of using the TV that IR is also improved. Still some line bleed at times on the PF50 but I don't think any plasma I've seen has been immune from this entirely.

Colours- There's not much of substance I can add regarding colour as I am not a calibrator, nor do I have any calibration tools. I haven't felt the need to alter any high/low white balance sliders much so far in the advanced menu- which is something I usually had to do straight away on a new PF30.

Black levels- About the same as the PF30, perhaps a tad darker but this could be due to the set being brand new or larger in size. For everyday use I think the black levels are excellent and I would presume the PF50 will be similar to the UT50 or even a ST50 in terms of black level.

Posterisation - There is some occasional banding- mainly on skin, skies or clouds of mist/smoke. Not much change here from the PF30 and nothing that troubles me much.

Screen uniformity- on my unit -very consistent, no vertical bands visible even at low contrast and on scenes prone to showing it up- such as camera panning on grass pitches. A very mild green tinge to an area near the centre but overall nothing noticeable to catch the eye and interfere with the picture.

Intelligent Frame Creation- this is something I had to switch on a lot on the PF30 to get rid of flicker and some judder. I haven't really needed to use IFC so far on the PF50 so at this early stage it seems flicker is also reduced.

Overall in my opinion based on initial viewing the PF50 is what I hoped it would be. A PF30 with the immediate issues I personally encountered now much improved. So far I feel its a wonderful screen, also built like a tank and very heavy. With more time other aspects (hopefully good) will pop up and anything interesting I'll add to this post.

Finally I must put in a good word for the excellent service from NearlyNewAV (and Intevi) who supplied the brand new 60PF50 set for me from a batch at a much lower price compared to RRP. (The standard RRP for the 60” in my opinion is prohibitively high compared to the 50" at nearly twice the price.)

.....

Some additional findings after a couple of days use:

There is probably only 6,144 gradation steps in cinema mode (not 12,288 as speculated by myself in a follow up post below) as I've noticed similar dithering/gradation quality in all modes on very close inspection

IFC on 'mid' is still required if you easily notice judder with 24p panning shots or movement.

The preferable 'warm' mode does definitely need some white balance tweaking in my opinion. Green is still a little tricky to deal with like on the PF30 (and all Panasonic plasmas it seems).

Still not seen any image retention at all as yet (although I've not done a prolonged stress test on this).

Light output on the 60" seems a little lower than the 50". Possible due to having to output light via a larger surface area- or energy consumption restraints. Even at very high contrast the picture is great- whereas the PF30 would have had to be dialled back down.

Overall this PF50 is definitely the best commercial display I've ever owned from my time with it so far.
 
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mikelj

Well-known Member
Thanks for sharing your experience.

Despite the big improvements in the Vieras over the last couple of years, I'm still leaning towards a PF panel driven by a Radiance to replace my current TV as I have no use for Smart TV, internal tuners or internal speakers.

Have you seen this years Vieras at all, as I'm wondering how they compare to the PFs. Obviously, no CMS for PFs and black levels probably not as good as VT/ZT, but would be interesting to compare the basic picture.
 

stucarblne

Well-known Member
Thanks for sharing your experience.

Despite the big improvements in the Vieras over the last couple of years, I'm still leaning towards a PF panel driven by a Radiance to replace my current TV as I have no use for Smart TV, internal tuners or internal speakers.

Have you seen this years Vieras at all, as I'm wondering how they compare to the PFs. Obviously, no CMS for PFs and black levels probably not as good as VT/ZT, but would be interesting to compare the basic picture.

Scary good image quality i would imagine with the combination you mentioned :) . What tv are you replacing ?
 

mikelj

Well-known Member
Pioneer 507XD. While it's still going strong though, I thought I'd try to stick with it for the next few years and see what happens with OLEDs and 4k.
 

SteveTM

Active Member
Thanks for the replies. Mike, I'll waffle on with some more PF50 findings if you're still interested in the PF series.

Two aspects I'm certain the ZT/VT65 will win out over the PF50 like you mention is black level but also possibly gradation/dithering quality (based on the marketing blurb regarding gradation steps) but I don't know to what extent the difference will be in general day to day viewing.

The PF50 is listed as having 6144 gradation steps. In Normal/Dynamic modes this seems to be the case as rougher dithering on gentle gradients is noticeable up close. However put the PF50 in Cinema mode and the dithering does seem to be softer and smoother. Does this mean it uses the same trick as the BT300 to get 12,228 steps? I'm not sure- it doesn't mention it in the spec but I'm leaving it in Cinema mode on all inputs just in case.

The PF50 also has an ‘Advanced Motion Resolution' option hidden in the options which is something the BT300/VX300 also has, but the PF30 didn't.

Before I bought the PF50 I made a trip into town to look at a couple of VT65s on display but it was in a brightly lit daytime environment so was impossible to gauge either VT65 in any meaningful way. The 50VT65 was clearly flickering so I doubt either had had any settings tweaked to try and make them show what they are really capable of. I'm not sure a thorough side by side comparison or review with the latest PF will ever be made so you could be stuck with a collection of amateur feedback like mine. There was a brief professional verdict I read recently (a couple of forum posts) by an AVF reviewer saying the older PF30 was very close in overall quality to the BT300 studio model.

The only plasmas I've ever extensively used are Panasonics professional ones so any of my praise or criticisms exist in a sort of bubble. Having said that one non PF plasma I have used and that I would like to keep is a friends Pioneer 5090. At the back of my mind however are the basic functional strengths of the PFs and how much I'd miss them if I jumped ship to a Kuro or a Viera.

Extra colour setting options would be useful to calibrators but the few features and menu options (compared to a Viera) that remain on the PF50 are the ones I personally find the most vital. For example, daft as it might seem, being able to zoom up to 4x on a 5x5 grid is a feature I use a lot playing games to really appreciate the scenery finer details. Also with 1:1 pixel mapping turned on some image sources have a thin soft edge or black borders (I have to have an edge to edge clean image) so being able to move and change the h & v size geometry of each input instead of using the more wasteful overscan on/off option most other TVs have is another thing I feel I must have on my main TV and on each input separately.

I suppose the list could go on as to why the PFs remain my favourite TVs when features such as these are combined with the excellent picture quality- which while perhaps is not ever classed as reference overall by charts and graphs- is close enough to be the best overall package for my own requirements.

PF50 aspects I still need to keep an eye on is the mild gradient banding and line bleed. Saw a bit of line bleed on the green cloth of the snooker table while players walked up and down around it but other than that I've not seen any worse examples. Interestingly it seems flat areas of green (like snooker tables) reveal line bleed more than other colours.

The PF50 with 1080p60 pc gaming is just fabulous, it is so clean an solid, even more so than the PF30. The law of diminishing returns does apply but I did notice an extra sparkle, a little extra depth and quality. I've not yet tested any Blu-rays as videogames are always the main worry picture wise for me and so far the PF50 in that area is tremendous.

.....

Few extra details after a weeks use.

Firstly all my attempts at better calibration are all completely amateur, by eye, using clipping test videos and cards but (as mentioned before) the set definitely has a noticeable excess of green that thankfully can be removed via the white balance adjustments.

Sadly, a different green problem- the subtle green centre and pink edge symptoms of recent Panasonics panels is still evident here, albeit only really noticeable on around 15% grey- but it cannot be calibrated out (it could lessen with panel use however). I made the mistake of trying to compensate the white balance for this which of course made the rest of the image off balance. The green/pink issue seems to almost vanish when using dynamic/normal but cinema/monitor seem to pick it up a little more.

I've been pondering whether the set has 6,144 or actually 12,288 gradation steps. In cinema mode dithering and noise is noticeably smoother overall so I'm back thinking it does use code from the BT300 or even VX300.

Cinema mode does also reduce some subtle fast motion ghosting/dither on high contrast movement as well (e.g on moving bright text), perhaps due to the 'Advanced Motion Resolution' option- again probably from BT300 programming. Both the BT and VX have an extra main processor on the D board (for AI/sync/subfield?) but the PF only has a single of this type so I could still be wrong if these features require extra hardware instead of programming.

Line bleed- decided its pretty rare and nothing too concerning.

Image retention- still no issues (far far more resiliant than PF30)

Posterisation- better calibration seems to have reduced this a fair amount- very rarely notice any on skin, occasionally on typical areas such as the glow from a light bulb, pale fog and mist but overall pleasingly little posterisation generally.

The new tv scares and worries seem to be less with each day of use of the PF50. So far its been superb. If I had to be critical would love to have 100% perfect colour uniformity on all flat shades of grey, and of course even darker MLL, but no panel is perfect but this is the closest I've personally used. As I've not done any exhaustive testing of the ST/GT/VT series I can't compare the overall image but if its considered that consumer sets have the edge now on the pro panels, the consumer sets must be absolutely amazing- because this PF is excellent.
 
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stucarblne

Well-known Member
Pioneer 507XD. While it's still going strong though, I thought I'd try to stick with it for the next few years and see what happens with OLEDs and 4k.

:)

You know Mike, why i asked what tv you were replacing is because i thought you owned a VX100, of course a monitor. I don't know why i thought that but i did. The 4K OLED will be great (processing dependent of course).

Will you be 'upgrading' to the 4K capable Lumagen then one day in anticipation of OLED 4K ?.

I am on the lookout for an older (SD) Pro Panasonic monitor 42" or 50". Exclusively for broadcast SD. Does anyone know model numbers i should be looking out for ? . Budget £200 max, preferably with a scart connection
 

mikelj

Well-known Member
:)

You know Mike, why i asked what tv you were replacing is because i thought you owned a VX100, of course a monitor. I don't know why i thought that but i did. The 4K OLED will be great (processing dependent of course).

Will you be 'upgrading' to the 4K capable Lumagen then one day in anticipation of OLED 4K ?.

I am on the lookout for an older (SD) Pro Panasonic monitor 42" or 50". Exclusively for broadcast SD. Does anyone know model numbers i should be looking out for ? . Budget £200 max, preferably with a scart connection

If I owned a VX100 I wouldn't even be thinking of upgrading until OLED:).

I think the initial 4k capable Lumagen will be quite a bit more expensive than the current XE. Unfortunately I think it would be a few more years after the first 4k capable Lumagen before you would see an equivalent model to the current Mini.

Although I have the funds for a PF panel and Radiance Mini, I don't have the means to replace it all again in a couple of years for the 4k equivalent models, so I'll probably just hold on the to 507 for the moment.

The Pro PH models are the non full HD models, although they are 768 vertical lines. You have to go backing many years to find a 480 line panel. I'm not sure if any panel ever came with a Scart?
 
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[email protected]

Active Member
Interesting thread, cheers. Just getting back into A/V and still running my PHD8, so naturally was looking to upgrade to the latest panny pro panel as I've always loved the simple look/styling of them. I was a bit dismayed to read that the consumer panels were better these days.

I'm not sure if any panel ever came with a Scart?

Scart never came as standard but there was a scart board available. IIRC it didn't give a particularly good picture on the 6 & 7 series so most used a component board + JS RGB to Component adapter (or similar). Picture was ok with it on the 8 series.

Edit:
You have to go backing many years to find a 480 line panel.

The non HD version of the 8 series - PWD8, was the last 480 panel unless I'm mistaken.
 
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mikelj

Well-known Member
I was a bit dismayed to read that the consumer panels were better these days.

Better blacks, in-built film cadence detection and a 3D CMS and 10-point gamma. But if one were planning to use a Radiance to drive a Pro panel, then de-interlacing and calibration controls are not an issue, so better blacks aside, it would be interesting to compare the Viera to a PF series as the Pro panels have always seemed to have a 'cleaner' picture to me.
 

SteveTM

Active Member
Yes, there are four fans on the back. They are 80mm with a depth of an inch similar to a normal pc case fan. I expect this means they can revolve slowly and move enough air without making too much of a whine- I dont notice the sound at all from the distance I usually watch from. The power supply also has very little buzz and hum when showing a bright image- probably the quietest power supply of all my PFs.
 

Eitzel

Active Member

SteveTM

Active Member
Hi Stu,

Thanks for asking for an update. No major issues at all with the 60PF50. Nothing new to add really so I'm confident I've got a rock solid durable work horse which is what the PF range is still hopefully built for.

As mentioned before, the main.... 'it would be perfect if....' issue that sometimes catches my eye is a slight DSE and unevenness with colour uniformity as the PF50s haven't totally escaped the dreaded centre green blotch/circle/halo from the previous series. It is relatively faint compared to some examples I've experienced with previous sets, but even so it's a kind of signature of Panasonic plasma panels I wish had been sorted.

Regarding using a Radiance with these panels, knowing that there might be a chance of these imperfections- however slight that will always sit on top of the feed you send to the panel, I can't recommend the PF entirely for that kind of setup just in case all PF50 sets have the same mild uniformity trait. (As my set only has about 300 hours use this uniformity trait could dissipate with more use and I'll update these posts if that happens.)

Anyway, onto the positives. I know its recommended to use external processing to get the best from these sets but the built in scaler and processor seem to do a great job- the main scaler is an iChips IP00C812A. One interesting thing is that I don't need the sharpness set as high as on previous sets I've used (the bigger screen size helps as well). Even around zero sharpness its more or less fine. On a 50” I did have to set sharpness pretty high to read text clearly, obviously adding edge halos on everything.

Apart from some inherent foibles of plasma tech in general, (posterisation, 30fps game movement looking blurry, IR worries) I'm very happy with the 60PF50. Usually after owning a set for a month or so other subtle nasties pop up, but there isn't really anything else to report without getting unnecessarily picky. I haven't regretted getting the latest PF at all. It's almost like these panels are built just for me- the way I like to use a TV and the way I like a TV to be designed.

The included PF50 remote is quite poor though with buttons presses rarely responding. Luckily the old remotes from the 6/7 series still work fine and are much better. Also I think that the 60” PF UK price is probably £500 too high at around £2800. I got very lucky finding the a 60" brand new for way less (its listed as a new discontinued PF30 on the sellers website but my jaw didn't half drop when a PF50 arrived) so if anyone is interested in a large screen 50 series pro panel, NearlyNewAv did have one left a few weeks ago.

On a different topic - I was curious about the increased power draw of a bigger plasma so I checked the wattage of the set with a meter (contrast around 55%, normal mode) and it runs at around 70w blank input and 160-220w normal Sky tv viewing with power save on. No power save and no peak limit will usually add 30-40w to the average scene with bright areas. A full screen mainly bright white image can accelerate the power draw to around 350w with these restrictions off however. There is also an eco mode which can cut a further 20-30 watts in general viewing but its a tad too dim for serious viewing.
 
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stucarblne

Well-known Member
Nice post Steve

Sounds like an all round plasma stunner in general - i know what you mean about the bit with the cosmetic feature of build though. 'Proper' tv's are built well - none of the super model skinny ones - no thank you ;) :D :thumbup:
 

ArthurKeith

Standard Member
Thanks for the write up

These displays are in a league of their own for their simplicity and picture quality, no feature is without it's purpose and it really feels like they don't get the recognition they deserve. I've owned the PF30(manufactured may 2012) for a few months now and instead of annoyances I'm finding more things to like about it all the time, as far as gaming goes these can not be beat and that is coming from someone who has put several thousand gaming hours on the GDM-FW900 aka the holy grail of computer displays.

The only roadbump so far was having to access a secret menu in order to change the nanodrift shift mode from "smooth" to "pixel", heres hoping that was corrected in the 50 series.
 

hdiam

Active Member
The only roadbump so far was having to access a secret menu in order to change the nanodrift shift mode from "smooth" to "pixel", heres hoping that was corrected in the 50 series.[/QUOTE]

How do you access this? I have a VX and that has the same hidden menu but I have never located it?

Thanks in advance
 

SteveTM

Active Member
The nanodrift 'off/smooth/pixel' extra options are still hidden in the 50 series but the same key press from the 30 series does reveal them.

To hdiam, the extra nanodrift menus are accessed by holding 'OK' for 3-5 seconds while highlighting the nanodrift section in the signal menu.

......

Just a little update regarding the slight green halo/blob areas I have on my set after 400-500 hours use. I do think it's easing a little bit in normal or dynamic mode. I rarely see it nowadays- even watching Formula 1 which has a lot of flat grey tarmac areas and flat beige gravel run offs which did used to reveal the problem- so overall still very happy with the PF50.
 

ArthurKeith

Standard Member
Hello Steve, may I ask why the sharpness controls were necessary for you? when using digital input(DVI) at native resolution -15 and 0 look the same to my eye, I'm wondering if it has something to do with motion
 

SteveTM

Active Member
Hello Arthur. I know most folk recommend keeping sharpness at zero, and it does look right viewing close to the screen like that, but I 'm always about 3 to 4m away and I feel text in games appears too soft at that distance at zero.

To me all inputs including DVI need a little extra sharpness, especially on my 50PF30, but yes, not much difference between zero and -15 at all at the other end of the scale. I also wear glasses (with a prescription that's a bit out of date) so sharpness is something I have to tune just for my own eyes.
 

button_sw

Active Member
Hi Steve

Thanks for the great impressions of this TV, I have just purchased a used 50PF50 and after coming from a calibrated Samsung D8000 I didn't think the difference would be that big but the black level is soooo much darker than the samsung and the picture is so much more stable!! I've been after a pro panel for a while and this came up at a great price and had to get it. The colors seem pretty accurate on Cinema Warm mode and Gamma 2.4 seems closer to 2.2 to my eyes (have not measured it yet) but do these panels have a CMS or a way to calibrate the color in the service menu?

I have notched the color control to -5 as on 0 it seemed a bit too saturated, did you find this with your panel?

Cheers
 

SteveTM

Active Member
Hello,

There is a chance you snagged the 50PF50 I also had my eye on if its the low priced one listed on ebay a few days ago. The listing ended early so not sure what it actually sold for but if you managed to get it near the opening price you have probably the best bargain pro plasma around!

Glad you like the black levels and also the stability. There is still hardly anything that gets me down about the PF50, its weird. So sad that there will never be a PF60 or any more Panasonic pro plasmas.

Anyway, I do also find colour needs to be set down to -5 or so like yourself.

No CMS sadly, just the high and low white balance as you will have seen in the options. You can also adjust RGB drive and RGB cutoff in the service menu but no 10 point adjustment anywhere that I know of unless there are some secret hidden button presses to unlock them- but I doubt it.

For whats it's worth, and it's probably not much, these are my current settings, (these are just my preference by eye on the 60" model and not professionally calibrated):

Warm
Gamma: 2.2
Brightness: +5
Colour -4
Tint: 0
Contrast: varies
WB High R: 0
WB High G: -14 (always far too much green at zero on every PF I've used in warm )
WB High B: -2
WB Low R: -1
WB Low G: -1
WB Low B: +5

(Edit Jan 31st: Updated some settings above a little bit further)

Anyway, glad you're liking the PF50 and can corroborate a few of my own findings.

Steve
 
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Getgaff

Well-known Member
Will the PF50 be the last of the professional displays? I'm thinking of upgrading my 50PF11 to a 60PF50 within the next three months of so.
 

SteveTM

Active Member
To be honest, I just presumed there wouldnt be a PF60 series as they usually launch around this time of year and I have found no information on them anywhere. Early details tend to be available as PDF spec sheets mid summer but again nothing. The latest (and perhaps final) pro models are possibly the 50PB2 and 65PB2 line of interactive plasma screens (with the built in touch pen functionality). They 'might' also use the 16th gen 60 series panels but not sure.
 

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