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How much is too much when it comes to contrast ratio?

by 8IronBob / May 5, 2008 1:06 AM PDT

I find myself asking this question when it comes to the newer LCDs and plasmas that are out there, that claim dynamic contrast ratios from 50,000:1 to 1,000,000:1 all over the place, and I find myself asking this. How much is TOO much when it comes to making the contrast look too unnatural? I saw a few televisions in the store that claim to use a bigger number, but don't have the processing to back it up. To me, unless there's that equal balance between image processing and contrast, then the DCR means nothing. Somehow, I feel that there has to be a line drawn when these numbers will just make a picture look too fake, and when the balance is set in place that it will look almost like the source. What are your thoughts about the two factors? There's also rumours that the glossy screen on the A650 just adds too much to even make for a natural contrast, if that's even true.

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Real world contrast in contrast.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 5, 2008 1:11 AM PDT

At risk of using the wikipedia at the dynamic range of human eyes is about 1 million to 1 so that's as realistic as you can get. Less and you risk some loss in realism. So let's put a upper limit of about 2 million to 1 since we can't know what lighting exists in the room you will put the set in.

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the more the better.
by gabereyes / May 5, 2008 1:59 PM PDT

when you open your eyes in the morning everything you see is unlimited in contrast like the night sky.

although some clam that the human eye can only see so much, they also make the same clams about speakers that play sounds that we cannot hear, but to me the things we cant see or hear do change what we can.

most numbers on the TV or tag are going to be rounded up or will be a straight out lies, you will have to trust your eyes.

good luck

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Dynamic Contrast Ratio
by DennenTH / May 5, 2008 5:22 PM PDT
In reply to: the more the better. did have a bit to say on dynamic contrast ratio, so I felt since it was relevant, perhaps I should toss it up here.

"Almost every HDTV manufacturer publishes a contrast ratio number. TV Salesman explains the bigger the ratio, the better. If all other image criteria are equal, the display with the better contrast (brighter whites and darker blacks) would have the best picture and with it the best ?perceived? sharpness. However, this specification has morphed beyond a useful measurement into a new, meaningless number that manufacturers call ?dynamic contrast ratio?. With the recent arrival of 2008 models, it has ushered in the era of ?dynamic contrast ratio? boasting up to ?one million to one (1,000,000:1). The reality? Not only is the dynamic number meaningless, it reminds me of something Dr. Evil of Austin Powers fame would be promoting.

The way ?dynamic contrast is measured is a two step process. First the HDTV is fed a completely black signal (0 IRE). The level of black is measured. Next a test signal with a small patch of full white (100 IRE) is generated and the white area is measured. The ratio between the darkest and lightest signal is what is claimed to be ?dynamic contrast?. How does this relate to what you see when watching a TV program or movie? It doesn?t! We don?t watch content consisting of an all black screen, we see an image that has portions that will be dark (at times) light or something in the middle. An accepted contrast ratio standard measurement is called ANSI contrast, but HDTV manufacturers don?t specify ANSI contrast, they just specify contrast so we really don?t know how they measure it.

The same display that may provides a dynamic number may spec its normal ?contrast ratio as 1/30th-1/100th of the ?dynamic contrast? ratio number. Bottom line, disregard the dynamic contrast ratio, it is meaningless.

One last note. Black level is part of the equation, but you can?t perceive black level in stores like Best Buy and Costco where the ambient light level is many times higher than a the room in your own home where you view your new HDTV. Unless the dealer has realistic ambient light levels (that match the level of your home?s viewing environment), you may not notice that the blacks on the store?s demo set are really gray, until you take the HDTV home."

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Don't be fooled...
by sefuly / May 8, 2008 3:01 AM PDT
In reply to: Dynamic Contrast Ratio

Don't be fooled with ridiculously high numbers. Every manufacturer has their own standard by which they measure contrast ratio. Although that it may be true in some aspects mainly it's a great marketing ploy. If anyone sets their tv to dynamic you'll be blind looks way too bright and is very unnatural. Lets say Sony might claim 7000:1, Lg might claim 20,000:1,Samsung might claim 10,000:1, and for the top runner up panasonic which i almost choked because while laughing at a staggering 1,000,000:1. I mean major manufacturers like sony,lg,samsung,and panasonic claim high ratios you as the consumer have to judge the picture quality of each set yourself. Those are just numbers they threw in there for product description details. So in conclusion be informed and use your own judgement and don't go by what a piece of paper says or what the sales man says.

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ANSI contrast
by jostenmeat / May 8, 2008 7:15 AM PDT
In reply to: Dynamic Contrast Ratio

is had by using test patterns. The published specs of contrast are typically "ON/OFF" contrast. Besides these two, the 3rd type of contrast spec is called Intra-Scene contrast.


AVS Contrast Thread - Now with Dynamic Contrast Results!

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"Contrast Ratio" is NOT "Brightness"
by Dr. Planarian / May 9, 2008 9:52 PM PDT

Remember, although they can be related, a monitor's "contrast ratio" is the ratio between the whitest pixel it can produce and the blackest. Although some monitors like the newer LGs can get very bright (too bright, in my opinion, and they have to be set far darker than the factory defaults to be usable), extremely high contrast ratios are due to their ability to produce blacks that are nearer to "true" black.

LCD monitors, which nearly all of them are now, have trouble producing true black because of the inability to completely screen out their backlights, usually fluorescent bulbs. Some now are available with backlights consisting of LED matrixes that follow screen activities and that can be darkened in black areas, and these are the ones talking about the 1,000,000/1 contrast ratios. Theoretically, the new OLED displays can have a very nearly perfect contrast ratio in a dark room.

Remember, if any set were able to produce a genuinely true, 0,0,0 black, its contrast ratio would be infinite even if it couldn't get very bright at all.

Blacker blacks result in truer picture colors. Higher contrast ratios are better, but you really have to be picky to need much better than even mid-price monitors provide today.

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Use your eyes
by guywayne / May 10, 2008 9:29 AM PDT

The number really doesn't mean a lot. Look at the picture and decide if you like it. I recently bought a decent lcd tv, I got a lower priced one, which loooked pretty bad next to all of the much more expensive ones in the store, but when I got it set up in my house it looks great! Buy what looks good, and what you can afford, and return it if it doesn't look good at home.

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by Riverledge / May 10, 2008 12:13 PM PDT


Best wishes,

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Don't negate the response time
by Acts7 / May 13, 2008 2:32 AM PDT

If you can find a contrast ratio that is non-dynamic you have found a true measurement.
But don't be fooled by contrast ration numbers.
Keep in mind that if you are watching HDTV (high-def cable - you are only getting 720p anyway).
Now when it comes to blueray etc then you need to be concerned about other factors.

But here's something I found.
I REALLLY wanted a Samsung LN40A550.
But I found that I was able to save $200 by going with the

Whats the difference?
well, here's where you have to watch your stores versus valid mfg specs. The store touted 20,000:1 contrast ratio. In reality the 530 is 12,000:1 (according to But in reality, I don't notice a difference.


Well because all things being equal the contrast ratio is the only difference. (that and a usb input but what benefit is that since you can connect a computer anyway).

Here's what you should consider:
RESPONSE TIME - 4ms is currently the fastest.
Both of these tvs I mentioned have a 5ms response time.
Their brightness ratio is the same at 500cd/m

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Sounds great... Can't wait for Sony's Z Series this year!
by 8IronBob / May 13, 2008 3:06 AM PDT

With all due respect on your assistance in this matter, it seems like Sony lists both standard AND dynamic contrast ratios on their TVs, and will probably lead to that choice overall. It seems like that's where all the best features for the price might come into play, I have a hunch. It'll be a tough call whether to go for Sony's Z Series, or the Samsung A650, since they'll both be pretty evenly spec'd, from how it sounds on paper. I'll definitely look at these two side-by-side later on in the summer/early fall when I plan to pull the trigger.

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by baardya / August 4, 2008 4:04 AM PDT

You know Acts7....i am debating between the same 2 TVs u have considered and the contrast ratio numbers were what brought me to this page...and i agree with u completely and u have made my choice much easier. thanks a lot...
actually, when i saw the 2 TVs in best buy...i thought the A530 looked much better than the A550...but i may be wrong after reading comments that watching a tv in a store can be misleading...
anyways...thanks again...!!

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Sharp LC46D85U
by Anthy14 / January 4, 2009 6:44 AM PST
In reply to: thanks!

I just purchased this LCD TV and it is everything I researched about it. The quality of the picture is phenomenal. The Motion Enhanced feature has been terrific and transition is seamless when watching action sports. It has 5 1080p compatible inputs and it's 10,000/1 DCR is as good as any which I compared in all electronic stores (Best Buy, P.C. Richard, Sears and several local stores)side by side and I did not see any differences whatsoever. It is very user friendly. If you are looking to buy an LCD TV, you will not be disappointed with this model. Sharp did a Fantastic job with this one.

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