Results and settings are at the bottom!
The end of LED is finally in sight
If prices continue to come down, I think OLED is the future of TV’s. LCD panels with LED back lights have never looked good to my eyes. It’s like viewing an image through a cataract. They utterly fail in producing convincing shadows and always succeed in making images look cheap, cloudy and digital. LCD/LED has always felt to me like a bad transitional period for televisions. Plasma has been my TV of choice for years – black levels and shadows are vastly superior to LCD/LED, and colors are much more lifelike and believable. The Samsung F8500 Plasma has produced the best image I’ve seen until now, best in terms of gamma and colour accuracy, contrast and overall viewing pleasure.
The LG 55EC9300 is the only reasonably priced OLED TV available to consumers at the time of this post. Needless to say it was a risky purchase as there were no other OLED sets available for comparison, and I’ve never thought of LG as much as I have Sony, Samsung and Panasonic. I spent a week looking closely at this TV in all the shops – salesmen and assistants would eventually walk off because I would spend 20 minutes at a time going through settings and assessing just how much potential OLED has for us videophiles, calibrators and home theater fanatics.
The TV is very thin. Think of 4 credit cards stacked together.
The answer: the potential here is huge. Apart from motion handling which isn’t the best I’ve seen, and software which boasts ISF Calibration features which are totally inaccurate, this TV, after having calibrated it, renders the most accurate, breathtaking image I’ve yet seen on a TV.
How It Looks
In Gravity, the blackness of space is indistinguishable from the edge of the TV in a dark room, and yet every tiny star is incredibly bright and clear. You’ve never seen contrast handling like this before, because each individual pixel is totally self illuminating. LCD TV’s have LED back-lighting which can only illuminate or darken broad regions of the display (Local Dimming) which looks as if flashlights are being pointed at areas from behind the screen. With OLED, clouding and washy illumination is completely nonexistent. You have to see this to believe it.
In I Am Legend, colours are incredibly cinematic. It looks just like it did at the cinema. That’s what I want – complete transparency and faithfulness to the vision of the filmmakers. Gray shadows are absolutely gray, skin tones are beautifully smooth, and even without Super Resolution on, there’s plenty of detail to behold.
Casablanca is rendered superbly well with no banding or colouration anywhere in the spectrum after calibrating. Shadows have plenty of delicious detail while remaining superbly dark until melting into the inkiest, deepest blacks I’ve ever seen on a TV (apart from perhaps the CRT displays back in the day.)
Back To The Future looks unbelievably good. Colour and detail is excellent. God I love the look of film. Grain is totally intact if not exaggerated, skin tones are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and shadows have excellent depth and detail all the way down to absolute black. Whoever graded this Blu-ray release has done extremely well because I’m seeing every ounce of it here and it really is something to behold.
Driving through the night in GTA V is a whole new experience. Things get equally as dark and clear as the room I’m sitting in, whilst stars and tiny lights in the distance still pierce through with excellent clarity. Cars look even more lifelike given the shear contrast range of the OLED panel.
Photographs of TV’s never do them any justice, but here you can start to appreciate just how black those pixels can get.
Gaming on the 55EC9300 OLED TV
This is the best gaming display I’ve ever owned. Period. I can not express what it’s like to play Destiny, Diablo III and The Last Of Us with contrast, colours and brightness THIS good. Before I pulled the trigger, I took my PS4 to the store to test the input lag and response time as it was the last thing I needed to assess. After changing HDMI Input label to PC, and enabling Game Mode on top of that, my games are even more responsive than they were on my plasma TV. Diablo III on PS4, being already a very snappy and responsive game, felt practically instantaneous when played on this TV.
There’s a lot of people out there who don’t like the idea of a curved TV. I was somewhat reluctant myself. But here, LG has kept the curve to a minimum, much more shallow than the Samsung TV’s I saw at the shops. Even when watching off-axis with a friend, the curve is barely noticeable to me. Not at all when watching movies or playing games. The one thing I would point out is that curved displays can present uniformity issues. The outer horizontal thirds of the display appear to have a very slight tint of magenta. That, or the middle third is greener. It’s very slight and only noticeable with full screen shades and when the LG menu is up. If I look hard, I can spot it when watching black and white movies, too. I think one could argue that even though the technology is new, tint gradation at this price point shouldn’t be acceptable.
I can’t put my finger on why or how, but occasionally the 55EC9300 will render dark blues or grays as a kind of seaweed green. It seems to happen throughout Super 8 quite often, and it’s particularly apparent when looking at the Start screen of Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls. It’s not something I’ve been able to correct with calibration, as the effect only seems to occur with very specific shades and colours that can’t be targeted with typical Colour Management systems and 20-point white balancing. It’s difficult to explain and not easy to counter, but like I said, all of my photos look exactly as I remember them, now with black levels and shadow performance that I haven’t seen since the CRT days.
Motion blur and judder IS visible on this TV unfortunately, especially at lower frame rates. It’s the one department in which this TV doesn’t brightly shine, perhaps made even worse by the excellence in other departments. Because motion is something you directly control in games, the effect is more easily overlooked, but when watching movies, it can be hard to look past. It can be helped by setting TruMotion to User and sliding DeJudder to at least 6, but now movies look much higher than 24 frames per second, appearing like soap opera TV shows. It’s hard to decide which I’d rather put up with, but generally I lean towards keeping that 24fps with some judder. Some reviewers have knocked off points for this issue alone. While it is something I’m beginning to forget exists, to get this TV to 10/10 in my books, LG would need to implement a much better method of motion handling here.
LG processing… ouch
The Vivid profile you see in the shops looks absolutely god-awful. Colours are blown out beyond exaggeration, even mild shadows are crushed to black, excessive sharpening makes edges and film grain look like hell, and contrast is pushed so hard that clouds and highlights become harsh blobs of solid white. Apparently consumers are going blind. The default settings of this TV completely negate the potential of the OLED panel underneath it all.
The TV can take an annoyingly long time to load, sometimes even longer than my PC. The LG software is also slow and clunky to operate. This is the problem I have with a lot of Smart TV’s — manufacturers are giving their TV’s the functionality of a computer but not the horsepower and software design to get the plane off the runway.
Calibration Results & Settings
I’ve spent 5 days calibrating the 55EC930T with my X-Rite Eye One Display meter and ColourHCFR, available for free on SourceForge. The calibration Blu-ray I used was AVS-HD 709, downloaded for free and burnt to disc. My Blu-ray player is a Pioneer BDP-320. This whole process has been long and arduous, partly due to the meticulous and inaccurate LG TV software, and partly due to the vast spectrum that OLED is capable of rendering.
My lowest visible gray is the recommended 17, my primary and secondary colours are 98% accurate, my gamma is 2.26 from IRE 10 to IRE 90, and my grayscale is Delta 3 and below accross the board.
The gamma chart displays my 5% gray as too bright, which I’ve set deliberately. If I set it back to gamma 2.2, I simply can not achieve a black level of 17 but rather 25 which means dark shadows become crushed and lose all detail. This is either a shortcoming of the panel or LG’s attempt to make blacks look blacker at the expense of detail and information. Even with 5% set brighter, blacks are still totally black and the very bottom end of the spectrum appears as it should.
(In order to achieve gamma this flat, I adjusted R G and B on all 20 white balance points)
(Pink line at the bottom indicates Delta values at each increment of brightness – 3 and below is considered to be as good as perfect)
(Firstly adjusting Colour on TV measuring Red, then using the CMS system to change Tint and Saturation of all primaries and secondaries to achieve accurate x and y values)
My settings of the 55EC930T at the time of measurements above are as follows:
PICTURE MODE: ISF EXPERT2
OLED LIGHT: 40
H V SHARPNESS: 0
DYNAMIC CONTRAST: OFF
SUPER RESOLUTION: LOW
COLOUR GAMUT: STANDARD
EDGE ENHANCER: OFF
COLOUR FILTER: OFF
EXPERT PATTERN: OFF (DISABLED)
COLOUR TEMPERATURE: WARM2
WHITE BALANCE 2-POINT
R:3 G:0 B:-5
R:0 G:0 B:2
WHITE BALANCE 20-POINT
(RED, GREEN, BLUE)
IRE 5: -9 -6 -19
IRE 10: -15 -15 3
IRE 15: -7 -7 1
IRE 20: -3 4 -2
IRE 25: 2 3 3
IRE 30: 4 3 4
IRE 35: 8 6 8
IRE 40: 5 3 4
IRE 45: 1 3 4
IRE 50: 3 5 5
IRE 55: -1 1 1
IRE 60: 0 0 2
IRE 65: -4 -4 -4
IRE 70: 0 2 2
IRE 75: 2 4 4
IRE 80: -2 0 0
IRE 85: -6 -5 -5
IRE 90: -1 0 0
IRE 95: -10 -10 -10
IRE 100: 0 0 0
COLOUR MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
RED: 0 0
GREEN: 8 17
BLUE: 2 8
CYAN: 0 0
MAGENTA: -7 -2
YELLOW: -8 3
NOISE REDUCTION: OFF
MPEG NOISE REDUCTION: OFF
BLACK LEVEL: LOW
REAL CINEMA: ON
MOTION EYE CARE: OFF (DISABLED)