Perfect Picture: A professional explains TV calibration

About The Author

CNET Editor

Former editor of CNET Australia, Pam loves being in the thick of the ever-growing love affair (well addiction, really) that Australians have with their phones, digital cameras, flat screen TVs, and all things tech.

Buying a new television is often fraught with difficulty. The vision you see on screen in the store showroom may look totally different when you take your new TV home.

Why? Well, a couple of factors come into play. In store, you're probably looking at a high definition feed (good) that has been split to display on multiple screens (bad). And often times, floor stock will have their picture settings cranked up to artificially high levels to stand out in the usually poor artificial lighting conditions in the store.

At home, with different input sources -- broadcast television, DVDs, game consoles -- different video connections -- HDMI, component, s-video and composite -- as well as different lighting and background environments, the images displayed on your new telly may not be what you expected. Fiddling with the contrast and brightness controls may help, but it can be a hit and miss affair. How can you tell which are the "right" settings?

Aaron Rigg, a display calibration professional from Avical Australia, says that ideally your television can be set to meet film and broadcast standards, developed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), so that its displays the images exactly as produced and intended by the content's creators. Calibrating your screen to reproduce these standards in your unique viewing environment and accommodating the variations from your particular source equipment can have surprisingly impressive results.

In addition to optimising the display with correct colour reproductions for your equipment and room lighting conditions (professional calibrators will do both Day and Night settings), proper calibration will give you full detail with no artefacts in both the bright and dark areas of the picture. The result should be a more three-dimensional "immersive" viewing experience, with less eye fatigue as well as an extended lifespan for the display.

Watch this five minute video to hear Aaron Rigg clarify what ISF calibration is all about.

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hunsoo1 posted a comment   
United States

I recenlty calibrated my new samsung plasma HDTV(PN51D7000) through Best Buy Geek Squad. Afterwards, the TV looked like I was looking it through a very thin piece of paper, a effect that calibrator called "filtered look". He said that it is what calibrated TV supposed to look like. Now the blacks look like kind of hazy. Is he right?


Robbie posted a comment   

@Phila: What were you expecting? A 5 minute "How to guide" on instant ISF calibration?


Seven7 posted a comment   


Phila commented on 31/07/2008 11:30 Report abuse

This didn't actually say how to calibrate or what to look for while calibrating- it's just about the benefits of it. Not helpful.

Phila, He is talking about something totally different then you with your Remote. What your calling Calibrating isn't the real deal. He's using a tool that cost about 5k+-


Jason posted a comment   

Calibration is A art & science so experience is the biggest asset to look for in choosing A calibrator second is the tools used to perform the display calibration by the Calibrator.. Simply put If you want the most experienced ISF certified calibrator in Australia Aaron of Avical is that person, Aaron spent 6 hrs calibrating my Highend CRT Projector,Video processor and video chain and made A huge difference to image quality...


Phila posted a comment   

This didn't actually say how to calibrate or what to look for while calibrating- it's just about the benefits of it. Not helpful.


test posted a comment   

thank you so much
for the explanation
for me mostly an update
in the terminology.

ernie wachter


James50 posted a comment   

Yeah, I as another consumer second that, Blinkster. He was helpful and humble, got the message across and answered all the questiuons I had about why I need to calibrate my TV.


Blinkster posted a comment   
Australia a consumer I found the video informative and well done. Aaron is a technician. Not a professional presenter. I thought he did well. I learned that I need to have my plasma screen calibrated and why. So I guess the video hit the mark!!
Obviously some other professionals could make their own video's for us to critique and see just how professional they are.


Captain posted a comment   

I found Aaron's explanation repetitive and uninformative. I work in the industry and he didn't hit any 'mark' I thought worthwhile. The people shooting the demonstration could have ensured the displayed image was at least colour balanced for the camera (the image has a blue cast) so all of that was lost. This was amply demonstrated by the (American) colour bars at the head of the demonstration. The Magenta bar looked distinctly Purple- a colour not represented in colour bars. The 'detail in the blacks' demonstration was not seen.

A better demonstration would see Aaron tightly scripted with regard to Brightness, Contrast and Saturation. Overlays of these adjustments occuring would make the demonstration so much more interesting and useful. I may be contacted for further discussion.

Captain Peter R. Miller


John posted a comment   

If you want to get free to air digital television, you have to have satellite to make it work clearly you know what I mean. How much will its cost to buy it because my old television make so much loud when changing channel therefore I don't no what wrong with it so please give me some advice about free to air digital television. thanks

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