How To Calibrate Your TV

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how to calibrate your tv
It’s a good idea for most to be able to know how to calibrate a TV. Knowing how to color calibrate TVs ensures that your viewing experience is always optimal; color depth and image quality depend greatly on how well the overall picture comes together, no pun intended.

Calibration entails adjusting settings on your TV with specialized software or, preferably, equipment and kits. It’s different than a simple setup of the user controls you can see or know how to access, and both are considered essential for peak performance.

This is especially true if you’re aiming to calibrate a TV for gaming: better color volume, less strain on the eyes, and much more will be yours.

Is it worth it, however, or are the claims in its favor overstated?

The Benefits Of A Calibrated TV (For Gaming And Otherwise)

We mentioned less strain on the eyes but there’s also another benefit of the same technical coolness that allows for that. A calibrated TV’s picture is much more contained and in a way dimmer than the default settings of a regular TV’s light output.

This means that it draws less power and can even have a longer-lasting lifespan owing to reduced strain, especially if the TV in question is an OLED, to the parts that produce light.

However, properly calibrated televisions might at first appear reddish – in other words, warmer than how we’re used to seeing most out-of-the-box (i.e. uncalibrated) television sets, not to mention with a “softer” tint owing to the dropping of the sharpness tool which exposes finer detail in the picture, meaning the picture has much richer color and contrast.

In fact, if you consider how to calibrate a 4K TV, most high-end sets require simply playing with settings for brightness, contrast ratio, gamma, and saturation is enough to forgo the proper use of a colorimeter and required expertise to handle one. This makes the pain of learning how to calibrate Samsung TVs (generally) much easier, as most of their products can be considered “premium” status in the market, being either smart TVs, UHD, or such.

A close approximation of how a TV looks calibrated is in the Movie/Cinema picture modes; watching a long film or the TV for a few days on this mode can help you experientially understand why this is the optimum and preferred way for many.

What makes this happen is the fact that manufacturers work with the Imaging Science Foundation that works with calibrators to produce these picture modes. In many cases, these are specifically referred to as ISF-Day or ISF-Night, building on the information of the expected amount of light that would be present in a room at different times of the day.

How To Calibrate A TV: The Professional Way

The “official” advice for calibrating a TV is to have a professional take care of it, and here is why that’s a good thing.

Many users report that – as we mentioned above – the calibration adds years to the life of a television set. If you’ve already dropped a cool couple of grand on your TV, the additional investment will make sure to protect your initial cost, adding a shield of protection at the very least, and ensuring optimal performance and maximum enjoyment.

If you’ve had a TV for a while now and are just beginning to consider improving the picture quality, then there might not be much to be said for paying a professional who would know how to color calibrate TVs or the specifics of, say, how to calibrate a TV for gaming.

However, with a new television, even having a calibrator handle the setup from the get-go is extremely useful, as we claimed at the start of the article, as they’d be handling the next, more complicated step in either case.

Why A Calibrator Is Worth It

Knowing how to color calibrate TVs is not an art, nor is it a skill. Rather, it is a precise science, with its own tools and equipment, as we’ve mentioned before, and the right application of the set of tools, with the most important apparatus being what is called a colorimeter.

Many websites claim to teach you how to calibrate your TV with the eye alone, but the eye is not an exact barometer for this. In many cases, the “right” image cannot be discerned, as a warmer or a cooler color still look “right” to the human eye in different situations.

This makes it especially important that you get people who have the exact know-how of how to color calibrate TVs with the right tools and expertise. It’s even more complicated when it comes to knowing how to calibrate a 4K TV as their wide-gamut color spaces require specialized knowledge; more so for HDR.

Your calibrator will also know how to adjust color points if your TV has the available controls to allow it. Ultimately, the goal is to come close to the D6500 standard that is used for producing photographic imaging and films, used worldwide in films and television, meaning you “see” exactly what the content creators worked hard to create.

How To Calibrate A TV On Your Own

While we believe that the “how” of calibrating your TV largely depends on you finding and ultimately paying a good ISF calibrator and discussing all the aspects beforehand of what he, she or they will be able to do with your model, there are also less-than-ideal home-based remedial workarounds that will help you at least feel better about what you’re seeing.

Our ultimate recommendation – with some caveats – is to look up your TV’s model and make and to search for it specifically on the AVS Forum or, better still, RTINGS. Following their calibration settings will get you the closest to someone who has already done the testing on your television’s model, which means you can approximate and replicate the same settings on your television.

Of course, from the rest of the article, you can guess that it’s not that easy to achieve the perfect calibration. Manufacturing tolerances in each part that makes up your TV means that each product is physically different from the rest in some way.

Finally, there’s also the very popular post from the AVS forum – it’s quite old at this point but still up and running and helpful for anyone in a pinch – specifically geared for the XBOX, from where you can download and use the attached MP4 files and Play To/DLNA (on the same network as the XBOX One) for getting your TV closer to its full potential in just under an hour.

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