How to Calibrate Your TV
It doesn't cost a bunch to improve the picture on your TV. You only need our instructions and a $30 CD to complete a simple calibration.
Do you want know about how to calibrate your tv? Your TV’s picture quality can be greatly improved by calibrating it. Professional calibration is a time-consuming, costly process that needs specialised tools and experience, but you can improve the appearance of your TV for only $30 to $40 by purchasing a test disc and spending a half-hour fiddling with simple settings.
I’m an Imaging Science Foundation-certified TV calibrator, and these instructions will lead you through a very straightforward calibration procedure that doesn’t require any prior knowledge on your part. Ordering a Spears & Munsil Benchmark and Calibration Disc is all that is necessary (Opens in a new window). As the disc is currently an Ultra HD Blu-ray, a UHD Blu-ray playeris required to view it. The earlier Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark 2nd Edition(Opens in a new window) disc, which works with a typical Blu-ray player, is still available. It uses 1080p footage rather than 4K, but it nevertheless adjusts colour and contrast just as well.
Joel Silver, the creator and president of the ISF, suggests the Spears & Munsil disc as a very helpful tool for anyone wishing to calibrate their TV or simply learn more about how video signals operate. It comes with extensive instructions, both on the CD and in the booklet that comes with it, but much of them are superfluous and can be ignored unless you’re a pro and already knowledgeable about TV calibration.
Before I begin, I should say that most of the TVs I’ve examined over the past two years have great standard dynamic range (SDR) colour accuracy out of the box, frequently matching broadcast standards exactly when using the right picture preset.
When showing a high dynamic range (HDR) signal, they also frequently exhibit a tendency to be quite accurate, and in both situations, they exhibit excellent contrast performance.
You may get a viewing experience that’s about as close to optimal as a particular panel can get without going through a more exacting calibration process by following our guide to the best picture settings for your TV.
But keep reading if you’re curious about how TV calibration works or if you want to fine-tune your picture.
Table of Contents
1. Find the Best Picture Mode
Starting in the right picture mode will yield the greatest results. This is the default setting for many of your television’s unique visual settings, and it frequently makes some of the more advanced calibration adjustment options available.
Your television should, ideally, have an ISF picture mode that offers a full range of options for performing a full calibration (you won’t need to touch most of them; that’s for pros). In any other case, start in the Cinema or Theater mode. If neither of those are accessible, try Custom. Avoid using the Vivid, Game, or Sports settings at any costs.
2. Use the Warmest Color Temperature Setting
Once you’ve selected a mode that sounds appropriate, make sure the Color Temperature setting is on Warm. For the majority of current TVs, this produces fairly accurate colours all around when used in conjunction with the picture mode. With a thorough white balance/RGBCMY calibration, you can get pin-point accuracy for colour levels, but that requires a calibration specialist with specialised tools. The warmer colour temperature preset will work for the majority of consumers.
3. Turn Off Unnecessary Picture Features
Your TV likely has a number of settings that allow it to adjust the visual settings as needed to best suit the content you’re viewing. They serve a purpose, but calibration is hampered by them. The test patterns you’re viewing must be displayed with fixed settings, and the TV must not be making changes to them while you’re working.
Look for any submenu with the names Advanced Picture, Expert Picture, or Picture Options in the picture settings menu on your TV. Any feature that contains the phrases “adaptive,” “dynamic,” “motion,” “processing,” or “smoothing” should be disabled. If Overscan is an option, turn it off while you’re there (this will help in the next step).
Deactivating any motion-enhancing elements will, incidentally, lessen the jarring soap opera effect that most people detest. Motion improvements have a place, sometimes in live sports or video games, but for the most part, it’s much more enjoyable to watch movies and TV shows without them.
We go into more detail about what these modes do and whether it matters whether your TV runs at 60, 120, or 240Hz in our refresh rates guide.
4. Check Picture Geometry
If you’re switching between HD and SD channels, this can be a problem for cable boxes, but otherwise, you should be able to set up everything so that images display at their native quality. Look for an Aspect Ratio, Picture Size, or Zoom setting in your Picture menu, or a button on your remote control.
READ MORE: How Can You Upgrade Your Sony TV Picture Quality?
The Spears & Munsil disc can be used to verify the accuracy of the image geometry. Choose Setup and then Framing under Advanced Video. The limits of various resolutions will be visible on a test pattern. The edges of the screen will be touched by the white arrows pointing at the 1920 x 1080 lines if you are using a normal Blu-ray disc (this is also true if you are using a 4K TV; your player will upscale the image). The arrows pointing at the 3840 x 2160 lines on the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc will touch the edge of the display.
5. Set Contrast
The Spears & Munsil disc proves to be really helpful in this situation.Choose Video Calibration and then Contrast from the disc’s main menu. When the numbered bars below 238 are clearly different shades of grey and the numbered bars above 238 are white, your television’s contrast setting needs to be adjusted. The 10 coloured squares should be visible in the grey boxes that surround them on the top and bottom of the screen, and the gradient in the centre should slope down smoothly from a white band in the centre to black on the sides.
6. Set Brightness
Contrary to popular belief, your TV’s brightness setting actually modifies the black level. To access the Brightness test pattern, press right on your remote. Lower your TV’s brightness up so you can see all four of the grey bars in the centre, then gradually turn it down until just the two right bars are visible and the two left bars have faded into the background.
7. Note Your Settings
Ignore the suggestions in the Video Calibration menu to adjust colour or sharpness; the vast majority of TVs released in recent years have those settings set as defaults, and attempting to change them can result in visual defects.
READ MORE: The new TvOS 16.1.1 Update Fixes the Issue with Apple TV 128GB Storage.
By accessing the Demonstration Materials tab and watching a few of the video clips, you may verify your results. They ought to appear intricate in both light and shade, with delicate textures standing out. Natural-looking colours, not garish hues or pink or blue tints, should be used.
Record the Brightness and Contrast settings, the Picture setting, the Color Temperature setting, and any features you removed. By returning the TV to its factory default settings and consulting your notes, you can resolve any issues with the picture if you make modifications in the future.
Once your TV has been precisely calibrated, you should make sure you are delivering it the best signal you can. To learn what the various sorts of HDMI cables mean, what brands are available, and how much you should be spending to get the greatest performance, check out our information on HDMI cables.