Professional TV calibration yay or nay?

In the past my TV purchases haven’t been expensive enough to justify considering professional calibration and despite my initial “OMG what I have I done” reaction to my last two TV’s on initially starting them up my anal nature meant I spent some considerable time tweaking settings until my eyes were happy with the picture to the point that literally everyone who visited remarked on what great TV’s I have when in truth they were less expensive models than those saying it owned, but they were in the majority of people who just leave their sets on out of the box settings with very little changes.

I have a fair amount of money left over from what I’d budgeted for with my latest purchase so I’m interested in the opinions of those who’ve had professional calibration as to whether they think its worth the expense or I should just trust my eyes again until I get things right?

Given that people who sell colorimeters etc recommend you re-calibrate your screens every few months I prefer to spend the money on a measuring device.

If anyone has experience of calibration, professional or DIY, can they confirm whether one calibration suits every input device? Something tells me there are bound to be differences.

If you have an iOS device and the appropriate HDMI dongle (or are willing to buy one), you might check out THX tune-up.

The app is free, and all it really does is give you test patterns and instructions on what to look for. So it likely won’t be as accurate as a professional calibration, or even an amateur one with a dedicated piece of hardware, but for the cost of the dongle it does a pretty good job IMHO.

Buy yourself an X-Rite i1Display Pro and learn to do it yourself. The best calibration software (ColorHCFR and DisplayCal) is free and open source and quite easy to use.

Yup. I have a Spyder5 which does the job nicely but takes a long time with the near-blacks. They claim the Spyder6 is better with that.

There’s a bit of a learning curve, especially if you only have calibration options (ie adjustments on the display itself) as opposed to profiling (adjusting the signal being sent to the display).

From what I’ve read they calibrate for every device and input in light and dark conditions.
My main concern is that the £300 for professional calibration may be me throwing my money down the drain which is why I’d like to hear from people who’ve used the service.
My TV may be calibrated to the closest visuals the content creators envisaged but is that calibration a better viewing experience than my own eyes going through the settings?
We are all different, our eyes see things slightly different from the next person, I’d gladly pay that 300 quid if I get the best visual experience from my new TV but I would really like to hear from people who’ve used such services.

That’s my worry. So if you buy a new device, you need another £300?

Good question. And the evidence from this forum and others is that even then content creators don’t get it ‘right’.

From what I have read (no personal experience) OLED displays have an issue where the individual colors age differently from each other which over time means that the calibration changes not just for brightness (as with LED TV’s) but color accuracy as well. Although newer TV’s have built in profiles to compensate for these changes over time they are only a best guess as the aging rate is not entirely predictable. As such I would have to believe that a professional calibration would not be a single purchase if you wanted to maximize the performance over the life of the TV.

Displays that use a technology that is more likely to have image retention (like plasma or OLED) are also technologies that tend to degrade more over time. If you do calibrate, wait until at least 100 hours on the display, and probably 200-300 is better. I ran my plasma with various colored slides for a week before I put it into service. After that, brightness will slowly decline, so you’d need to re-calibrate every year or so. I don’t have much experience with current LCD backlight technologies, but I don’t think they lose much brightness over time…they either work or they die.

I have an i1 Display Pro that I use on my computer monitors, but don’t use it on my TVs, because the software really isn’t designed to handle the huge number of variables that modern displays can set. My plasma just got set by using posted values from other people who had professional calibration done…the numbers were remarkably close to each other on nearly a dozen displays.

That’s interesting, every professional calibration vendors site I’ve looked at says you can’t copy anyone else’s settings because every panel is different and you may well do more harm than good (well they would say that wouldn’t they?).
I knew I’d have to wait a while to let the panel “burn in” before I considered ordering the service, I think I might well look up others settings once it has been in use for a few weeks then decide from there, but would still like opinions from anyone on these forums who have gone through the pro calibration route as to whether they think it was money well spent?

Pretty much all LCD’s have moved to LED backlight in one form or another. LED’s do loose brightness over time, but they do it slow. I think the standard lifespan on most LED’s are in the range of 20k hrs and that is when they are expected to be down to about 70% brightness. That is not really relevant to OLED as they are very different in their construction and loose brightness in a much shorter period of time.

How long does the measuring device survive, though? I’ve owned two colorimeters, and both became unusable in two years.

Assuming all devices are within spec, render accurately, and output the same signal formats, yes. If, for example, you calibrate for YUV input and then want to use a device that outputs full-range RGB, then clearly you have a problem.

If two different devices output different YUV pixel values when playing the same video file, then you need to sell at least one of them and use something that is capable of decoding the video correctly - using calibration to help with video decoding errors is not the way to go.

Define “better”.

The way I see it, the mixing engineer who produced a recording (and the director and cinematographer of the film) spent a lot of time getting the film to look exactly the way they wanted it to look. And what I want is to watch the film the way they wanted it to be seen. So I want my TV to have the same calibration settings as the monitor they used when making the recording.

Maybe you prefer to make your own version of the film that looks completely different.

I owned a plasma TV that I calibrated by eye and watched for about two years before having it professionally calibrated, and initially the difference was profoundly off-putting - reds and blues looked ridiculously over-saturated. But after a while I began to think “Actually, those skin-tones do look very natural, don’t they? Oh, and those flowers actually are about that colour!” Everything looked real all of a sudden.

Since then I wouldn’t even consider not having a professional calibration done.

Having also tried the DIY colorimeter route, I would recommend against that; but you may find it fun. HCFR probably won’t be adequate, though, so factor in the price of the Calman software.

Personally, I would never spend money on a ‘professional’ calibrator. Unless your tv has a way of storing an actual profile (3d-lut) then all a calibrator can do is tweak the built in adjustment tools which are generally not very good even on high end tv’s. Since any calibration/profiling will probably need to be redone every six months or so then an inexpensive colorimeter like the i1 or even just a calibration disc like the Spears & Munsell is plenty good enough.

I don’t do 4K or UHD myself, but I’ve read that it’s essentially impossible to profile for Rec2020 UHD content since the specs are all over the place and there are no commercially available tv’s that actually comply with the specs. So all you can do is calibrate for Rec709 content (HD Blurays) and then do it more or less ‘by eye’ for UHD stuff.

Thanks that is exactly the sort of opinion I wanted I.E. someone who has used the pro calibration service.

No offense to anyone else posting in this thread but I know I can buy test equipment and try to calibrate the set myself but even with my best efforts I would still be an amateur trying to do a professionals job.

I am still open/hoping for other opinions of users of the service apart from @angry.sardine , although I do truelly appreciate that feedback but do not wish to base a reasonably expensive decision on one persons reply.

I think the term is chromatic accommodation.

The i1 Display Pro is generally regarded as being pretty stable (certainly good enough for consumer level tvs) and can be calibrated with a spectrophotometer for added accuracy.

Calman might have a nicer interface but I don’t think it can really do anything HCFR/Displaycal/Argyll can’t.

The Panasonic VT50 and VT60 plasmas were remarkably consistent. Maybe for “perfect” calibration, it might not work, but after downloading 5 different “after calibration” settings and seeing how close they were, I’m pretty sure I’m close enough.

The biggest difference between professional and personal is professionals generally have software that can do the job much more quickly by accessing all TV settings directly and automatically. Software like Calman will give you all the same test patterns, but you need to manually change TV settings (unless you pay for the pro version).

For SDR, you can get a much better display just by using something like the AVS HD 709 test disc and calibrating by eye. Software like Calman will help with all the details (e.g., adjusting green up 3% when the pixel brightness is between 10% and 20%), but a lot of that is hard to really notice.

Mine was unusable after two years. Anything below IRE30, the reading were meaningless.

Yeah, but my point was three-fold: first, that the calibrated settings were surprisingly far away from setting things by eye; second, that it took a considerable amount of time to adjust; but, third, once I had adjusted, I was significantly happier than I had been with the original settings - everything looked more realistic and indefinably “right” than it had previously.

I’m not sure I would agree with that. For example, there is generally not just one combination of settings that will give you the correct white balance and luminance at each IRE point. On my LG OLED, for instance, at each point you can adjust R, G and B independently, but you can also adjust overall luminance; so, if you want it brighter, you could turn up the overall luminance setting, or you could turn up all three of R, G, and B by the same amount. Either method can give you the correct values at the measuring points (e.g. IRE 50, and IRE55) but the performance in between the measuring points, or within the entire colour cube, won’t be the same in both cases.

A professional calibrator, if he knows what he’s doing, ought to know which approach is going to give better overall performance, or at least have the equipment to measure performance outside the basic greyscale points.

Plus, his equipment will simply be more accurate, of course.