November 29, 2012

ISF Certified Calibration For Those Serious Videophiles.

For most of us when shopping for an AV display, be it Plasma, LCD, LED screens or projector system, in a typical electrical store environment, we'd instinctively go for the brightest set with highest contrast setting, due to it's razor sharp picture quality and dynamic contrast that delivers visual punch. I wish to clarify that if choosing display device in such a crude manner, we'd end up with a knock out(literally!), as the brightly contrasting screen, with razor sharp picture would prove fatiguing for longer term viewing, such as finishing a whole movie duration.

I'd highly recommend for those who owns big screens(55 inches or bigger) for AV pleasure dom to engage the services of an ISF certified technician to calibrate the display to ISF standards to achieve colour tone balance, gamma(input/output linearity), tint/hue, and grey scale contrast(from the blackest black to the whitest white) for accurate picture quality, just like audiophiles  aiming to reproduce music as accurately as possible with a flat frequency in room response measurement. Granted, some audiophiles will also argue that flat frequency response in it self is no panacea to great sound quality either. However in the context of video, that argument is dead in the water, as the calibrated results are there for all to see clearly, even to the most un-discerning folks, such as my wife and kids!
Before(top) and after(bottom) of  RGB colour tone balance calibration. Note the flat colour response output from all three colour generators, after calibration.

I recently had my Samsung PN64D700 plasma screen re-calibrated by an ISF certified technician. He brought along with him, tools of his trade, essential for getting the job right(don't let anyone tell you otherwise!). The tools include a tripod mounted photospectrometer(like the unit pictured below), linked to a laptop loaded with the necessary software(typically Calman, as pictured below in a printout of a job, NOT mine to be specific) to interpret the results of the scan. The job took more than 3 hours as the technician did the job in the following steps.

1) RGB colour axis locking, to ensure proper on screen registration between the three colour generators.
2) RGB colour tone balance, to ensure that all three colours outputs evenly across the spectrum.
3) Colour tint/hue adjustment, to ensure accurate flesh tones.
4) Grey scale contrast, to ensure the display is reproducing the blacks and whites in a step by step linearity scaling.

There are some fine tuning to further refine the setting such as setting the brightness levels of the screen back lighting to suit the room ambient light conditions.
A photospectrometer linked to a laptop loaded with a calibration software are essential kits that an ISF certified calibration technician should have to get the job done correctly.

The end result is stunning, with an even colour tone balance between RGB, I am experiencing natural and accurate colour reproduction. Flesh tones looked realistic, with faces looking neither too blue of red. Landscape scenes with lots of green is recreated with a wealth of details, never before seen or thought was there on the original Blu-ray source. Picture depth of field is reproduced with layers and layers of  details that increases the illusion of depth, even without the use of 3D(which happens to look fake and very etched). There is so much more details in dark scenes, which makes movies like Batman, The Dark Knight, that much more enlightening. Sitting thru an entire movie has never been more pleasurable. Like I said earlier, even the un-discerning noticed the improvements immediately.
A pre/post calibration report is usual supplied to prove the technical corrections done on one's display set.

I must admit to lack the technical depth to write more about the subject matter other than a short user experience, but here's a site link that will provide more details if one is interested to learn more about the technicalities of display calibration.

Go to  


naimky said...

Can share who is the ISF certified technician?

Ken said...

Big E,

How much does it costs?

Big E said...



The technician that attended to my request came from AV Designs. You can contact them on the tel no. listed on their advertisement banner on this blog.


Most ISF standard calibrations cost between RM$400 - $1000 per session, depending on screen size and type. Do note that NOT all display devices allow access for calibration in their sub menus. So do check with your prospective technician if the brand and model of your existing display device allows for it.

However, if you do buy big screens and projectors from AV Designs, the price they qoute usually includes the ISF calibration and instalation(where possible)

Wang said...

I had my plasma calibrated by AV Designs and the difference was well worth the cost, time and effort.

James of AV Designs is a bit of a perfectionist himself whenit comes to colour calibration. I gave up LONG before he did, going over and over just to get that "sexy" curve he wanted to get.

Qudos to him.

I have to mention that while it sounds easy, in reality, it's a pain in the b*tt.

Robert F. Crocker said...

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