For the Cinephile
The average cinephile values realism over visual tricks and will want to calibrate their TV picture settings to produce the most natural and true-to-life results.
If this is you, become familiar with the details of your particular model, from screen type to the available settings. Then, find out if your television manufacturer offers a calibration guide for your particular model. You can also search the web for forums and posts by other users who own the same unit. For example, you'll likely find many useful Reddit threads with optimized settings specific to your TV model posted by other users or a professional who has calibrated it.
You can also hire a professional to help out. Your local Best Buy or AV dealer usually offers a TV calibration service, in which a technician will come to your home. If that option is too pricey, or you live in an area without a local pro, you might consider shopping for a calibration disc instead. Our friends at Digital Trends recommend the Spears and Munsil HD Benchmark, and they also offer a great calibration guide based on different TV models.
Don’t have a disc player hooked up to your TV? There are apps for that. A quick search of the app store for Apple or Android using the term “TV calibration” will bring you many options to choose from. And remember, what constitutes the best picture is a subjective matter. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little and tailor your viewing experience to your specific tastes and needs.
Here are a few of the settings you can adjust manually to achieve your desired results:
This affects the overall brightness or dimness of your screen. You might want to bump this up for daytime or viewing under bright lights and bump it down for a night in. Many of the latest models to come out in the last few years offer a brightness setting that automatically adjusts to the available light.
This feature can also affect the brightness of the entire image, depending on your screen type. Adjust the backlight by freezing a dark image on the screen, and then turn the backlight down. Now, gradually increase the setting until you can see details to your satisfaction while still maintaining the appropriate black levels.
This affects brightness, too, especially in white areas and highlights. You can adjust it effectively by using a very light scene (like a snow-covered landscape), pushing the setting to maximum, and then gradually pushing it down until just the right amount of detail emerges.
This affects how objects appear on the screen: whether edges are crisp or blurred. Counterintuitively, a lower sharpness setting may yield more high-definition results. Experiment by starting at 50% and then gradually adjusting down until your image is clear.