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Pioneer PDP-LX5090 Calibration

by Vincent Teoh
3 July 2008

Greyscale

Predictably, the [Movie] picture preset – with [Colour Temp] left at its default setting of "Low" – provided a pre-calibration greyscale that was closest to the D65 standard on the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 out of the box:

Pre-calibration CCT
Pre-calibration CCT with [AV Selection] "Movie" & [Colour Temp] "Low"
Pre-calibration RGB tracking
Pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

Overall image was still a little plus-red though. After setting [Colour Temp] to "Manual" to gain access to the white balance controls, we tweaked the RGB cuts and gains to bring red channel in line with blue and green on the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 HDTV:

Post-calibration CCT
CCT (correlated colour temperature) after greyscale calibration
Post-calibration RGB tracking
RGB tracking & delta errors (dEs) after greyscale calibration

The result was beautiful... the equivalent of Monet in TV calibration terms. Delta errors (dEs) were largely confined to below 1 (well under the normal perceptible limit of 4) from 20% stimulus onwards... and that's without accessing the ISF C3 interface.

Gamma

The [Movie] picture preset also yielded the most pleasing gamma configuration on the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma TV, adhering closely to 2.2 across the entire luminance range. By contrast, no matter how much we tweaked the [User] picture preset (unfortunately the only one which allows for independent per-input memory settings) in the user menu, we just couldn't flatten the gamma tracking:

[Movie] gamma tracking
Gamma tracking in [Movie] mode
[User] gamma tracking
Gamma tracking in [User] mode

Colour

Just like previous Kuros, the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma television offered two [Colour Space] options. [Colour Space] "1" generated a wide colour gamut with oversaturated red and green primary colour points; whereas [Colour Space] "2" was closer to high-definition Rec. 709 specifications:

[Colour Space] 1 [Colour Space] 2
[Colour Space] "1" CIE chart
[Colour Space] "2" CIE chart

The good news is that [Colour Space] "2" did not throw up any deficit in 0% to 75% colour saturation that was witnessed (however slight) on previous Pioneer Kuro plasma TVs as long as [Colour] was bumped up to a value of "+3" or thereabouts. The bad news? Any significant tweak of the primary colour hues in the [Colour Management] submenu would distort the greyscale and gamma. Fortunately not much tweaking was required at all, as most of the colour points fell into place once greyscale was calibrated. Because most people probably wouldn't notice it in real-life viewing, and because we wanted to preserve the near-perfect greyscale and gamma, we decided to leave the marginally inaccurate green alone:

Post-calibration CIE chart
CIE chart with reference to HD Rec. 709 after calibration with HD source

Benchmark Test Results

Dead pixels None
Screen uniformity Subtle blotching/ streaking when screen is totally black
Overscanning on HDMI
0% in [Dot-By-Dot] mode
Blacker than black Passed
Black level Deepest we've measured so far (0.0031 cd/m2)
Black level retention Stable
Primary chromaticity Excellent in [Colour Space] "2"
Scaling Very good
Video mode deinterlacing Excellent
Film mode deinterlacing Passed 3:2/ 2:2 cadences with [Film Mode] engaged
Viewing angle Excellent (> 150°)
Motion resolution 1080
Digital noise
Slightly less PWM noise than previous 8G Kuros
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
Image retention Virtually none
Posterization Effectively none
Phosphor trails
Yes; severity depends on individual susceptibility
1080p/24 capability (PS3) No telecine judder if [PureCinema] engaged
Input lag (rel. to Samsung F96)
On par if [Game Control Pref] engaged, or in [PC] mode

Power Consumption

Default [Standard] preset
393 watts
Calibrated [Movie] preset
272 watts
Standby 1 watt

Screen Uniformity

In a totally dark room, we spotted some blotches and streaks of uneven brightness on our Pioneer PDP-LX5090 review sample when the screen was completely black (e.g. blank input or 0% stimulus pattern). Fortunately these blotching/ streaking were not visible to our naked eyes once there's some actual content on screen (even a 10% stimulus test pattern was sufficient), or when there's enough ambient light. It's not that these conditions eradicate the blotching/ streaking, but that they prevent our eyes from becoming sensitive enough to detect the brightness difference between these blotches/ streaks and the idling luminance on screen.

Black Level

As the black-level luminance of the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 Kuro plasma was too dark to be accurately measured by our current test instrument, we got our hands on a calibrated Macam L203 Photometer (capable of resolving down to 0.0001 cd/m2) to perform the task.

Whenever the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 was powered on from standby, it would display a lighter black level of 0.076 cd/m2 for about 15 seconds, after which the on-screen brightness would drop in 3 quick successions to settle at the plasma's idling luminance. If a completely black screen (e.g. blank input or 0% stimulus test pattern) was held for longer than 45 seconds, the screen would automatically switch off (i.e. achieving zero luminance), and remain so until there's a change in on-screen content, at which point the whole cycle would repeat (meaning that the PDP-LX5090 would behave as if it'd just been powered on from standby, and begin again with 0.076 cd/m2 blacks).

Using the Macam L203 Photometer, we measured idling luminance (which also represented the calibrated black level) on the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 Kuro plasma to be 0.0031 cd/m2. This comprehensively smashes the previous black level record held by its predecessor the PDP-LX508D (0.015 cd/m2) if we discount the Samsung F96 LED-driven LCD TV which is capable of delivering 0 cd/m2 blacks but only when there's little to no content on screen.

Macam L203

In [PC] mode (which can be engaged by negotiating [Home Menu] > [Option] > [HDMI Input] > [Signal Type] > [PC]), idling luminance was higher, registering at 0.016 cd/m2. This might explain why we witnessed less blotching/ streaking in [PC] mode: the perceptible difference between the brighter blotches/ streaks and the now-higher idling luminance is smaller compared to any non-[PC] mode with darker idling luminance.

Static Resolution

With [Dot-By-Dot] mode engaged to attain 1:1 pixel mapping without overscan, the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma HDTV successfully resolved all 1080 horizontal and 1920 vertical single-pixel-wide lines over HDMI, though the vertical ones were intersected with full-field horizontal interference. Over component, the results were slightly worse – even the vertical 2-pixel-wide lines exhibited some noisy interference.

Needless to say, these interferences did not materialise during normal viewing, simply because most real-world material do not subject the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 to the same level of stress as these test patterns do.

[Enhancer Mode] "3" effectively halves the screen resolution of the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma: with it engaged, only the full-field 2-pixel-wide lines could be resolved. The single-pixel-wide ones, on the contrary, would "merge" with one another, resulting in a uniform grey screen.

Motion Resolution

Using Chapter 31 of the "FPD Benchmark Software" as our reference test pattern, the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 Kuro plasma fully resolved all 1080 lines (the highest possible) scrolling horizontally at a speed of 6.5 ppf (pixels per frame), a feat that to this day could only be matched by other full HD plasmas among all the flat screen televisions we've reviewed.

Video Processing

Pioneer plasmas have always fared well in our video processing tests, and the Kuro PDP-LX5090 was no different. For standard-def content, scaling/ upconversion quality was among the best we've seen on flat screen HDTVs, and jagged edges were smoothened very effectively.

The Pioneer PDP-LX5090 can deinterlace film-based material correctly, but only if any of the 3 [PureCinema] > [Film Mode] options – "Standard", "Smooth" or "Advance" – was engaged. Just like previous Kuros, the PDP-LX5090 was mildly sluggish in locking onto 3:2 cadence over 480i (as judged by the racetrack moire test scene), but we were hard-pressed to notice this in real-world viewing. More pertinently for UK and European owners, the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma TV successfully detected and processed 2:2 cadence over 576i.

Moving on to HD test patterns, the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 is one of the few flat panel HDTVs we've tested that properly deinterlaced both video-based and film-based (with [Film Mode] engaged) 1080i sources without any loss of resolution. Most 1080p television sets can do the former but not the latter, though this issue is slowly being addressed by more and more manufacturers.

Four video noise reduction features are available on the Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090: "3DNR", "Field NR", "Block NR" and "Mosquito NR". From our observations, on the whole their respective filtering algorithms were more advanced and selective than those found on other HDTVs, therefore not as much fine detail was needlessly truncated. For critical viewing (especially high definition content), we preferred to disable all of them though.

Sidenote: If [Game Control Pref] was set to "On" in [Game] mode, most of the excellent video processing on the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 would be disabled to reduce input lag, resulting in a loss of resolution during video deinterlacing, and also proliferation of jaggies. For this reason, you should refrain from sending interlaced signals (e.g. 480i, 576i or 1080i) from your game console to the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma television insofar as possible if you're going to engage [Game Control Pref] for its gaming response benefit.

5 Star Rating: Reference Level

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