Posted on April 7, 2012 By Art Feierman
This is pretty straightforward. Simply stated, I have yet to encounter a projector, that, right out of the box, with no changes, produces its best possible image. In most cases, colors are a little off, contrast or brightness needs to be adjusted for better black levels, shandow detail and highlight detail, and so on. Mind you, a few get very close. In general, if a projector, for example, has a THX mode, that’s going to be really good, right out of the box.
OK, you go out and buy a new projector, and when it comes to calibration, you have exactly five choices:
Hook it up, turn it on, and watch it as is – what we refer to as “out of the box” picture quality – pick a picture mode (Cinema, Sports, Bright, Natural?) from those offered.
2. Same as #1 above, but you do a basic adjustment of Brightness and Contrast settings. If you know what you are doing, this can be done by eyeballing it, but a number of discs (mostly Blu-ray) have basic instructions and screens for adjusting these two (Star Wars discs – standard DVD also have this). A grayscale test pattern is really all you need, but there are plenty of good scenes from movies that can allow you to do just as good a job.
You deal with color adjustments as well. Best solution, get yourself an end user calibration disc, such as AVIA, or Digital Video Essentials HD (DVE-HD), and follow the instructions. These are designed with tutorials and to be used by the non-technical. Don’t worry, you can handle it. These will allow you to do not only brightness and contrast, but color. Your results won’t match a professional calibrator’s but should get you closer to their work, than what you started with.
The easy way out: Use the calibration settings we provide in each review. There are three limitations. 1. There is some variance (in terms of color) caused by the variation from one lamp to the next. 2. We calibrate early on – typically with less than 50 hours on a projector and lamp, since most times we are working with brand new projectors. The lamp’s color will shift slightly as it ages (many calibrators recommend holding off until the lamp has 200 hours or more).
Time after time, I get emails from folks telling me about the substantial improvement they are seeing in picture quality/accuracy, by using our settings. It’s not a perfect solution, but probably the second best, for most folks not planning to hire a professional calibrator, and lacking the tools and skills to do it themselves.
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