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Panasonic TH42PX80 Calibration
Panasonic doesn't appear to believe in offering white balance controls in the user menu of their plasma televisions (certainly the UK versions anyway), so we'll have to make do with one of their [Colour Balance] presets: "Cool", "Normal" or "Warm". On the Panasonic TH42PX80, [Colour Balance] "Warm" yielded a greyscale that was closest to the D65 standard:
|Correlated colour temperature (CCT)||RGB tracking|
I debated long and hard as to whether I should break into the service menu to further finetune the greyscale on the Panasonic TH42PX80, and in the end decided against it for the following reasons:
- Any improvement is going to be incremental rather than radical.
- The resultant calibrated greyscale would most likely drift 6 months down the line anyway as the phosphors continue to age.
- I can't see many people shelling out £300 to ISF calibrate a plasma screen which costs £800.
Again, not many controls in the user menu can be used to properly calibrate the colours on the Panasonic TH42PX80. [Colour] affects colour saturation and intensity globally, whereas [Tint] is only available with NTSC signals. [Colour Management] would make green and blue look more vibrant but inaccurate so I left it off. The colour gamut of the TH42PX80 plotted against HD Rec. 709 reference is remarkably similar to that I measured on the PZ70, with a green primary that's oversaturated and tilted towards blue:
Benchmark Tests At A Glance
|Overscanning on HDMI||0% with [Picture Overscan] "Off"
|Blacker than black||Passed|
|Black level retention||Some dynamic dimming
|Primary chromaticity||Average; green primary tilted towards blue
|Video mode deinterlacing||Good; effective jaggies reduction
|Film mode deinterlacing||Failed 3:2/ 2:2 cadence in all resolutions|
|Viewing angle||Excellent (> 150°)|
|Digital noise reduction
||Very good at baseline
|Sharpness||Defeatable edge enhancement|
|Image retention||Mild during the first 200 hours
|Posterization||Mild, though worse with poor source
||Yes; severity depends on individual susceptibility|
|1080p/24 capability (PS3)||Accepts 24fps; no telecine judder|
||On par with Samsung F96|
All right, let's get the first question on everyone's mind out of the way: the calibrated black level on Panasonic TH42PX80 was not as deep as that on the Pioneer PDP-4280XD, but it's getting closer. Here are some hard numbers I measured:
|Plasma Television||Calibrated Black Level (in cd/m2)|
In spite of the numbers, all of the above plasma screens produce what I would classify as "excellent" blacks. It's probably only during a side-by-side comparison in a totally dark viewing environment that you could detect a difference in precharge glow between panels.
As with all Panasonic plasmas I have tested to date, the TH42PX80 exhibited some undefeatable – though subtle – black level fluctuation when the content on screen was black/ near-black, but to be fair this was more obvious in test patterns than in real-life material.
There was no visible drop-off in contrast and colour even from extreme angles of 75° off-axis, but it's probably worthwhile pointing out that depending on your viewing angle, distance and content on screen (e.g. white text on a black background), you may see a ghost image repeated behind the original image, probably as a result of the multilayered glass screen implemented on the Panasonic TH42PX80.
Some of you may be surprised by a motion resolution of only 700 on the Panasonic TH42PX80, but there's a perfectly logical explanation. This is because the test pattern I used (Chapter 31 of the FPD Benchmark Software) to measure motion resolution is mastered in 1080i resolution, and so cannot be fully resolved by the Panasonic TH42PX80 which sports a native resolution of only 1024 x 768.
I'm not sure how the advertised "100Hz Double Scan" feature functions exactly (there was no option to disable this in the user menu), but motion handling and flicker (if any) on the Panasonic TH42PX80 looked no better nor worse than any other top-tier plasma televisions out there.
Except for scaling which was slightly softer, the various video processing elements on the Panasonic TH42PX80 were essentially of the same quality as those found on the PZ70 (i.e. better than the PX70):
- Video mode deinterlacing: jagged edges in moving diagonal lines were smoothened effectively.
- Film mode deinterlacing: unfortunately the PX80 failed all the 3:2/ 2:2 cadence tests in 480i/ 576i/ 1080i. When watching movies, you should let your playing device perform the deinterlacing by sending a progressive signal to the PX80 if you want to avoid witnessing deinterlacing artefacts like line twitter and/ or moire.
- Noise reduction: the picture was clean enough at baseline. The [P-NR] settings not only truncated fine detail, but also didn't offer much improvement in further noise reduction.
- Mixed edit detection: this refers to the ability of the television to correctly process video-based scrolling titles/ subtitles overlaid upon film-based content without introducing combing or jaggies. The Panasonic TH42PX80 handled this well without needing any intervention from the user (unlike the Pioneer Kuros).
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