Panasonic VT50 plasma picture quality - questions

anniep

Standard Member
I am no technical expert when it comes to plasma, I just know that I prefer it to lcd/led. I'm also not your expected follower of this forum, being a beyond sixty-year-old female! I had an Hitachi 42PD9700 up until a week ago and loved it dearly. When I bought that, I was on here reading everything I could about the set and settings etc. and I found it all very helpful. The picture was superb and still is but unfortunately, the screen filter has started to break down and so needs a replacement screen. The screen is no longer available so the decision had to be made to search for a new TV. None of this is relevant to this thread until I reveal the fact that my replacement is a VT50. You are all responsible for my purchase of this TV because, along with all the reviews, I have read every post on this thread and it seems that the VT50 is the dog's whatsits when it comes to new plasmas!

Now, being female, style is quite important to me and I love the styling of the set. However, I have a few niggles about the actual picture and the dimness thereof. I have tried all the different modes and "out of the box", it appears that THX Cinema Bright Room is the only acceptable one to use. Dynamic looks as though the whole thing is set to explode and using Cinema means that it's impossible to make things out, it's so dim. The modes in between are just so-so but still very dim. I'm talking both day and night here as it appears just as dim when the room is dark. Surely this can't be right, especially as all of you praise the picture quality for it's clarity and vibrance. It seems to me as though there is far too much green tint in the picture making everything seem dull, although there are no green splodges. It's just the overall appearance. There's a sort of softness about the picture that just doesn't seem right. On my other set, especially on close-up shots, you could make out every hair and skin detail super clearly. I don't see that on the VT50 and I feel that it should be a huge improvement on the Hitachi.

My question is, if I had the set calibrated, would it make a huge difference? Would we be able to see the detail that we're used to and would the greenish cast be neutralised? I'd love one of you enthusiasts to see it and give me your opinion because I just don't know enough about the subject. Are any of you anywhere near Southport? I just know what I like and at the moment, I'm not as thrilled about this telly as I should be. I know that different channels broadcast different quality and even some programmes on the same channel can look very different but watching "Hunted" the other night was not the experience that it should have been. Good programme, terrible picture. It was so dark, I had to use the dynamic setting to make anything out at all and it still wasn't bright.

Oh, by the way, I did the Munsell visual acuity test and scored a big fat zero, meaning I have perfect colour recognition. That's just before anyone says that because I'm an old lady, I don't recognise colours very well!

Help!
 

anniep

Standard Member
I have reset all the modes to the default settings because I had fiddled with contrast, brightness and sharpness on them all. I've tried all the stuff I don't really understand e.g. C.A.T.S. on and off etc., but nothing seems to make a huge difference. None of this is with bluray but we did try "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" last night and again, had to have it on THX Bright Room because it was so dull. I find the settings quite frustrating to be honest because there are no numbers showing the levels. With the Hitachi, if you changed any settings, you could see the numbered levels going up or down and make a note of the settings when it was perfect for you. I can't do that with this TV but I've seen pictures of the settings showing numbers. Would that be when it was being calibrated d'you know?
 

Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
We don't have numbers in the UK, people tend to count the amount of clicks up and down from default.
To see fine detail you need to be watching HD, bluray is the highest resolution at 1080p. To improve brightness you need to put contrast up, the brightness control effects the black level so if you have that too high the picture will become washed out.
Contrast effects the whites(brighter parts of an image) counter intuitive isn't it:rolleyes:

Calibration will help the colours and get rid of the green tint.
 
I'm currently watching my 55VT50 with the curtains open, in a relatively bright room (relatively as it's pretty cloudy outside). Mine is set to THX Cinema and I can't say it looks dull or unclear in any way. I think the picture is sublime, particularly with HD content.

It's possible there's something not quite right with your set but I'd be surprised. We all see and hear things very differently so it's pretty normal for people to find a picture preset dull whereas others don't. Therefore it might be as simple as that and your eyes just need time to adjust to the picture.

Either way I hope you manage to sort out whatever the issue is as one thing I can't personally fault with my VT50 is the picture, which is by far and away the best I've ever had.
 

anniep

Standard Member
Thanks Scooby. We watch in HD all the time through the Sky HD box and I knew about the brightness/contrast controls from reading on here. However, I've also read that having the contrast too high on a new TV isn't a good idea so I'm unsure where to draw the line. It seems to me that calibration is the way to go but having spent £1700 on the beast already, I sort of feel that having to have it calibrated before I get decent picture quality, is a bit of a con.
 

Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
Thanks Scooby. We watch in HD all the time through the Sky HD box and I knew about the brightness/contrast controls from reading on here. However, I've also read that having the contrast too high on a new TV isn't a good idea so I'm unsure where to draw the line. It seems to me that calibration is the way to go but having spent £1700 on the beast already, I sort of feel that having to have it calibrated before I get decent picture quality, is a bit of a con.

Yes Id not calibrate a set you aren't happy with, calibration is the icing not the cake so best to get a set you're happy with first. It my be the set or as is common, you may be used to a brighter LCD? Maybe go to a store with a demo room and look at another set of the same model.
 

anniep

Standard Member
You are lucky Paulybaby. If mine is on THX Cinema, it's far too dark and especially in daylight. I'm glad you've got a set that you're happy with and I know what you're saying about seeing things differently but we've had the set for over a week and put a lot of hours in, so I suppose I should be used to it by now. That's why I'd really like someone who knows about these things to look at it ab=nd give an opinion. Thanks for your good wishes anyway.

Scooby, I'm not used to LCD, bright or otherwise. I have a small LCD upstairs which is O.K. but it's not a set I watch very much. My last main TV was a Hitachi plasma and although it was only HD Ready, the picture was superb, very clear and bright. I did see one 55VT50 in the shop where we bought ours, and wasn't particularly impressed, but I didn't think they could have set it up very well especially after reading all the comments on here. We went up to Richer Sounds in Preston but they didn't even have one in stock, never mind set up, although he did offer to get one in for me to see. I declined because as he said, they would be left with an opened box and a used TV if we didn't want it. All the sets they had on in the shop were LED and it seems the same wherever you go. I guess I was a bit impulsive but I was so sure that our set would be fine because I'd be able to fiddle with the settings and get it how I wanted it :( I have upped the contrast somewhat on the THX Bright Room and it's O.K. but not fabulous. It's already very close to the highest setting available though, and that worries me a bit.

The thing is, what are the alternatives? I don't want an LED and it seems that both Panasonic and Samsung sets have their problems so I guess I'm stuck with what I have which is described as the best TV on the market. Sigh......
 
anniep said:
You are lucky Paulybaby. If mine is on THX Cinema, it's far too dark and especially in daylight. I'm glad you've got a set that you're happy with and I know what you're saying about seeing things differently but we've had the set for over a week and put a lot of hours in, so I suppose I should be used to it by now. That's why I'd really like someone who knows about these things to look at it ab=nd give an opinion. Thanks for your good wishes anyway.

Scooby, I'm not used to LCD, bright or otherwise. I have a small LCD upstairs which is O.K. but it's not a set I watch very much. My last main TV was a Hitachi plasma and although it was only HD Ready, the picture was superb, very clear and bright. I did see one 55VT50 in the shop where we bought ours, and wasn't particularly impressed, but I didn't think they could have set it up very well especially after reading all the comments on here. We went up to Richer Sounds in Preston but they didn't even have one in stock, never mind set up, although he did offer to get one in for me to see. I declined because as he said, they would be left with an opened box and a used TV if we didn't want it. All the sets they had on in the shop were LED and it seems the same wherever you go. I guess I was a bit impulsive but I was so sure that our set would be fine because I'd be able to fiddle with the settings and get it how I wanted it :( I have upped the contrast somewhat on the THX Bright Room and it's O.K. but not fabulous. It's already very close to the highest setting available though, and that worries me a bit.

The thing is, what are the alternatives? I don't want an LED and it seems that both Panasonic and Samsung sets have their problems so I guess I'm stuck with what I have which is described as the best TV on the market. Sigh......

I'm happy with the picture but there are other aspects of the set that I'd like to improve but unfortunately that isn't possible.

Of course you could get an engineer out to look at the set but the downside is if they deem the picture as 'within spec' then you'll most likely incur a callout charge, which is usefully around the £50 mark (a joke really).

If you explained your concerns to the retailer maybe they will offer an exchange. If that's the same then at least you can say this isn't the TV for you (I appreciate it is a pain in the backside swapping sets as I know all too well having swapped countless over the past 18 months).

I'm sure I read in some review that the Panasonic ST50 gives the brightest picture of all the *T50 series so I don't know whether this version is available to you? Alternatively the Samsung E6500 gets very good reviews from all and I've never come across any posts on here with owners being concerned by the lack of brightness.

As you rightly say, both Panasonic and Samsung have their issues but don't they all?!
 
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Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
First thing Id do is contact my retailer and say you have concerns, they may well send an engineer out for free. Then depending on what happens give the E6500 a go, after that sadly only option would be to get LCD.
 

anniep

Standard Member
Thank you so much for your comments both Pauly and Scooby. I might well go back to the shop but the only TV's they stock are Panasonic so I expected them to be really red hot on the technicalities. It didn't massively fill me with confidence though, when I mentioned calibration and the guy had no clue what I was talking about! Anyway, they'd probably send an "engineer" out and as Pauly mentioned, I'd be told it's all within spec :(

I'm not sure where to go to see the E6500 Scooby. We're a bit short on specialist TV stores here which leaves Comet and Currys. Do they stock it? Not that I'd want to buy anything from them anyway!
 

fluxo

Distinguished Member
I went Googling for the brightness of the Hitachi, out of curiosity, and I keep seeing
this 1400 cd/m^2 figure. Surely that can't be right?

If that was the peak output of your Hitachi, I can imagine why you'd think the VT50
is comparatively dim.
 

scottthehat

Distinguished Member
I cant see that, thats more than 3 times of lcds.
 

anniep

Standard Member
That would be interesting Fluxo if I had the first idea what you mean! I did some googling myself and discovered the same as you about the panel luminance of the Hitachi. I'm guessing from what you say the the figure of 1400 is very high. Well all I can say is that the picture quality on my old set is excellent, bright and crisp and nothing like the false looking colours on an LCD/LED. We were very happy with that set for nearly 6 years but there's a problem with the screen filter now and no way of fixing it :(

I must say the the VT50 has behaved not too badly tonight, since Scooby advised turning the contrast up :) Maybe we'll get used to it.
 

Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
That would be interesting Fluxo if I had the first idea what you mean! I did some googling myself and discovered the same as you about the panel luminance of the Hitachi. I'm guessing from what you say the the figure of 1400 is very high. Well all I can say is that the picture quality on my old set is excellent, bright and crisp and nothing like the false looking colours on an LCD/LED. We were very happy with that set for nearly 6 years but there's a problem with the screen filter now and no way of fixing it :(

I must say the the VT50 has behaved not too badly tonight, since Scooby advised turning the contrast up :) Maybe we'll get used to it.

What contrast are you using? also try changing the gamma.
 

DaMacFunkin

Active Member
I have to say (and i have touched on it elsewhere) i have seen this dullness in a VT50, if there is a white in the centre of the screen is it a bit yellow no matter what setting you try?
 

rupert81

Active Member
I have to say (and i have touched on it elsewhere) i have seen this dullness in a VT50, if there is a white in the centre of the screen is it a bit yellow no matter what setting you try?

The vt50 isn't dull at all. In thx cinema at default it's too bright and garish.
My contrast is at half way like it was on the pz800 it replaced. The only problem i have with mine is the green cast but i'm getting it calibrated on Sunday:thumbsup:
 

anniep

Standard Member
Scooby, I've no idea what measure of contrast I'm using now as there are no figures but I would say it's about three quarters of the way along the bar. I have it on the Normal setting now with the brightness and colour at about 50% and sharpness a tad over that. I expect you'll think it's all too high but the picture is so much brighter and crisp with loads of detail. I'm not sure what you mean by gamma, is that brightness?
DaMacFunkin, the white did look a bit yellowish or off-white and even now doesn't look blue-white but I would say that now I've turned the contrast up, I get a more natural or brighter white than before. I don't want a blue cast anyway, that's not very natural. I'm glad you've noticed the dullness though, makes me feel like I'm not a lone voice!
Rupert, you're very fortunate because my TV set on THX cinema at default, means we're barely able to make anything out on the screen at all and the greenish cast is very obvious. It seems that your VT50 isn't dull but I can assure you, mine most definitely is, or at least, was, until I changed the settings.
 

Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
Scooby, I've no idea what measure of contrast I'm using now as there are no figures but I would say it's about three quarters of the way along the bar. I have it on the Normal setting now with the brightness and colour at about 50% and sharpness a tad over that. I expect you'll think it's all too high but the picture is so much brighter and crisp with loads of detail. I'm not sure what you mean by gamma, is that brightness?
DaMacFunkin, the white did look a bit yellowish or off-white and even now doesn't look blue-white but I would say that now I've turned the contrast up, I get a more natural or brighter white than before. I don't want a blue cast anyway, that's not very natural. I'm glad you've noticed the dullness though, makes me feel like I'm not a lone voice!
Rupert, you're very fortunate because my TV set on THX cinema at default, means we're barely able to make anything out on the screen at all and the greenish cast is very obvious. It seems that your VT50 isn't dull but I can assure you, mine most definitely is, or at least, was, until I changed the settings.

Those settings actually look quite good;)
Gamma...hmm not a simple subject...basically it controls the difference between light and dark, so brightness controls the blacks(lower end) contrast effects the whites(top end) and gamma effects what goes between.
Set it too low and you will get a washed out picture, hence me mentioning it, set it too high though and you can lose detail. For a light room a lower gamma around 2.2 is recommended, in a darker environment 2.4 is best, another owner of your set can't explain your sets control and where to find it.:)
 

anniep

Standard Member
Thanks for that Scooby. It's a relief to know that my settings aren't too high to do any harm. I'm much happier with the set now, in fact, I watched "Light the Ocean" on NatGeo Wild HD today and it was beyond stunning. There's certainly a huge difference between channels and how they're broadcast, and this TV seems very sensitive to those differences. I'm not sure I'll bother searching for the gamma setting unless someone casually mentions how to do it on here, but thanks for the suggestion and for your patience :)
 

Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
Thanks for that Scooby. It's a relief to know that my settings aren't too high to do any harm. I'm much happier with the set now, in fact, I watched "Light the Ocean" on NatGeo Wild HD today and it was beyond stunning. There's certainly a huge difference between channels and how they're broadcast, and this TV seems very sensitive to those differences. I'm not sure I'll bother searching for the gamma setting unless someone casually mentions how to do it on here, but thanks for the suggestion and for your patience :)

Yeah ironic really, better the set the more issues in the content show up.
If you get a IR then you may want to drop the contrast a bit, otherwise it should be fine, where's the sharpness? For HD you don't want it too high.
 

fluxo

Distinguished Member
Scooby, I've no idea what measure of contrast I'm using now as there are no figures but I would say it's about three quarters of the way along the bar. I have it on the Normal setting now with the brightness and colour at about 50% and sharpness a tad over that. I expect you'll think it's all too high but the picture is so much brighter and crisp with loads of detail. I'm not sure what you mean by gamma, is that brightness?

It's a little different. Gamma is a nightmare to explain, but (roughly speaking)
it determines how the brightness levels vary between the darkest and lightest
shades.

Lower gamma than the default 2.2 will result in a brighter looking image, but
it might tend to look a little washed out. Higher gamma will result in a more
contrasty image, but it will tend to be darker.

This is an exaggerated simulation of what gamma does:

1opLLRE4hmS38wF3tiYq9FBNiS12ig.png
 

anniep

Standard Member
Scooby, my sharpness level is just a tad over 50% but the HD picture is fine.
Thanks for the explanation and example Fluxo. I understand what you mean by gamma you've made it very clear but I think it can only be altered on this set by professional calibration. Of course, I could be wrong, it happens!
 

rupert81

Active Member
Scooby, I've no idea what measure of contrast I'm using now as there are no figures but I would say it's about three quarters of the way along the bar. I have it on the Normal setting now with the brightness and colour at about 50% and sharpness a tad over that. I expect you'll think it's all too high but the picture is so much brighter and crisp with loads of detail. I'm not sure what you mean by gamma, is that brightness?
DaMacFunkin, the white did look a bit yellowish or off-white and even now doesn't look blue-white but I would say that now I've turned the contrast up, I get a more natural or brighter white than before. I don't want a blue cast anyway, that's not very natural. I'm glad you've noticed the dullness though, makes me feel like I'm not a lone voice!
Rupert, you're very fortunate because my TV set on THX cinema at default, means we're barely able to make anything out on the screen at all and the greenish cast is very obvious. It seems that your VT50 isn't dull but I can assure you, mine most definitely is, or at least, was, until I changed the settings.


Honestly if your picture is so dull you may have a faulty set. :(
 

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