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PS50P96FDX Calibration, Tests & PQ

by Vincent Teoh
26 July 2007

Baseline CCT (Correlated Colour Temperature)

The CCT for [Movie] mode – where the default [Colour Tone] is "Warm2" – on the Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
measured just a tad cooler than D65:

Pre-calibration CCT Pre-calibration RGB
Pre-calibration [Movie] mode CCT
Pre-calibration [Movie] RGB tracking

Calibrated CCT

It took me only a couple of clicks at the blue offset and gain inside the [White Balance] submenu to achieve near-D65 greyscale with dEs below 4 from 30% stimulus onwards:

Calibrated CCT Calibrated RGB
Calibrated [Movie] mode CCT
Calibrated [Movie] RGB tracking

Baseline Colour Chromaticity

Auto Wide
Pre-calibration [Colour Space] "Auto"
Pre-calibration [Colour Space] "Wide"

The primary and secondary chromaticities on the Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
were excellent when [Colour Space] "Auto" was selected; [Colour Space] "Wide" gave an oversaturated colour gamut.

Calibrated Colour Chromaticity

Calibrated CIE
Calibrated [Colour Space] "Auto" CIE chart with reference to REC 709 (HD)

These colour points are probably as accurate as one could get on a flat panel television that does not offer an advanced colour management system.

Benchmark Test Results

Dead pixel 1 (six o'clock)
Screen uniformity Mild reflection moire (less obvious than on PS50Q97)
Overscanning on component 2.5%
Blacker than black Passed
Black level Excellent
Black level retention Stable with DNIe disabled
Colour chromaticities Excellent
Scaling Average
Video mode deinterlacing Average; limited jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing 3:2 and 2:2 cadence passed when [Movie Plus] enabled
Viewing angle Very good (≈140°)
Motion blur Slightly worse than top-tier plasmas
Digital noise reduction Average
Image retention Mild – precaution advised for first 200-300 hours
Posterization Noticeable dynamic false contouring
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
1080p/24 capability (PS3) Accepts 24fps – judder reduced considerably
1:1 pixel mapping Yes, when [Just Scan] (only available on HDMI) enabled

Picture Quality

High Definition (Blu-Ray)

My test disc on this occasion was S.W.A.T. on Blu-ray, a largely forgettable movie starring Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson. The action scenes were reasonably realistic, but the plot was too predictable (partners becoming enemies, a nasty superior, backstabbing, etc.) and sometimes downright ridiculous. But hey, I'm here to judge the TV, not the film.

Colin Farrell in SWAT

The first thing that struck me was how "right" the skin tones (and everything else) looked on the Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
, which I believe is the direct result of the excellent primary and secondary chromaticities, and the calibrated near-D65 greyscale. Whether it was sunshiny daylight when Hondo (Samuel L. Jackson) roamed around Los Angeles assembling his new S.W.A.T. team, or gloomy nighttime when the Lear jet landed on a bridge, the Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
conveyed the atmosphere with realism – I never got the feeling that anything (except the storyline) was out of place.

Black level was gratifyingly deep, though not as good as that on the reference-level Pioneer PDP4280XD. Where the Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
excelled was in shadow detailing: as Jim Street (Colin Farrell) and team explored the underground drainage system in pursuit of the bad guys, all the subtleties in the darkest crevices were clear for all to see. In fact, I thought that it looked overexposed, so I lowered [Gamma] to -2 (and subsequently recalibrated the television) to boost image contrast and achieve a more realistic rise from black.

Samuel L Jackson in SWAT

The director employed a fair amount of jerky camera shots (especially in combat scenes) to give the movie a more gritty and visceral feel. While these worked to a certain extent (it was nowhere near as nauseating as The Blair Witch Project), they also revealed more motion blurring on the PS50P96FDX compared to top-tier plasmas like the Pioneer PDP4280XD and the Panasonic TH42PH9. Engaging [Movie Plus] decreased motion blur slightly, but would introduce other complications such as intermittent shimmer around moving objects, loss of the film-like effect, and forfeit of 1:1 mapping (because [Movie Plus] is not available when [Just Scan] is enabled).

Firmware 1080p/24

Even without updating the firmware on the PS3 to 1.90, the Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
(which was loaded with firmware 1005) accepted 1080p/24 Blu-ray signal from the PS3 without any fuss. Now I'm not entirely sure of the rate at which the PS50P96FDX screen refreshes, but what I can say is that judder was significantly reduced, judging from the overhead panning shots during the violent bank heist opening sequence. Unfortunately these slow pans again highlighted the relatively inadequate motion processing on the Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
... it simply exhibited more image detail loss during motion and panning than both the Pioneer PDP4280XD and Panasonic TH42PH9.

Standard Definition (Freeview Digital TV)

Watching standard definition broadcast on a 50-inch 1080 screen is an exercise in seating yourself far enough from the television to avoid seeing too many artifacts. From twelve feet away, the SD performance on the PS50P96FDX just about reached my level of expectation in terms of picture cleanliness and detail preservation. However, there were two issues you should be aware of.

When watching Freeview using the internal tuner, there was a stutter every thirty seconds to two minutes... particularly obvious on the BBC News scrolling ticker (see video below). This stutter wasn't present if the Freeview signal was supplied by an external device. I've notified Samsung about this issue.

The Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
also suffered from quite noticeable dynamic false contouring, i.e. posterization that occurs during motion. To be fair, upon scrutiny this artifact could be detected on high definition too, but it was the low resolution/ bit-rate of SD programmes that truly brought the problem to my attention.

Secretary

I caught a glimpse of Secretary on Film 4, a dark love comedy/ drama about the S&M relationship between a troubled lawyer and his new secretary with a history of self-harm. Essential for character development, the camera naturally focused quite a lot on the faces of the protagonists. Here's where dynamic false contouring reared its ugly head: a bob of the head or a shift in camera angle would bring about distinct colour bands with dithering edges in areas where there should be seamless gradation of skin tone.

Dynamic false contours – a.k.a. "creeping moss" – typically also affect scenes with low light output. As Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal) laid in bed at night fantasizing about her "boss", her dim surrounding was generally noisy with low-level dithering shimmer, and the odd sparkle of colour that really shouldn't be there. I suspect this might be a sign of suboptimal subfield organisation and insufficient compensatory electronics that are probably inevitable in a first-generation 1080p plasma.

The solution? As with most video artifacts, sit far enough from the TV and you probably won't see these DFCs, but in doing so you may be giving up picture detail and viewing perspective.

PS3 Console Gaming

Gran Turismo PS3

The detail from 1:1 pixel mapping and the suitably vibrant and bright colours on Samsung PS50P96FDXBuy this for £1394.60 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £73.40 discount
provided an immersive high-definition gaming experience. Motion ghosting was no worse than LCDs. Because image retention remained a problem, ample precaution is advised for the first few hundred hours before indulging in long gaming sessions.


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