Vibrant colors, smooth wax faces, harsh contrasts: in their factory settings, most televisions show extremely overdrawn images.
That can make a big impression at first, but a natural image that also corresponds to the filmmakers' ideas looks different.
Fortunately, a remedy is not a problem.
After all, modern televisions offer countless options in their setting menus to tweak colors, contrast, brightness and many other parameters.
You can find out how to get to your destination safely and not get bogged down in the menus in the large guide from "Computer Bild".
How to adjust the TV picture correctly
The greatest and decisive improvement can already be achieved by switching to a different picture mode - practically every television set comes with a factory setting with properly pre-adjusted colors and without unnecessary image processing such as re-sharpening.
Depending on the manufacturer, this picture mode is called cinema, cinema or film.
In addition, only a few further corrections are then necessary.
Adjustments to individual tastes and room brightness are also possible.
But very important: the respective setting is required for every type of feed, i.e. for TV reception as well as for playback via HDMI and streaming services.
The best picture mode for your TV
For current televisions from the largest manufacturers, the following picture modes and settings have proven themselves in the "Computer Bild" tests:
For the best image quality, select the
for the image
Then, in the line below, set
) to values between 75 and 85.
To adjust the
press the menu button, select
The now very dark image can be made lighter in the line below by raising the
To adjust the picture, press the gear button on the remote control, select
and then the
as the best starting
Samsung televisions show the best picture quality in the
is just as good,
although the motion smoothing is completely switched off.
Smart mode is too cool.
You get to the
settings by pressing the gear wheel button, then select
display and sound
as well as
User picture mode is
the best initial setting for Sony TVs.
With the optimal picture setting for films, the picture from televisions has a lower blue component than from typical smartphones or computer monitors, even without night mode
Is your TV from a different brand?
Then look in the menu for an image mode with a similar name.
That promises more success than fiddling around with countless parameters in the menus.
On the other hand, you can forget about modes with names like Dynamic or Brilliant.
They look spectacular at first glance, but brilliant brightness usually results in strongly falsified colors, crisp sharpness leads to ugly grizzling and double contours.
The same applies to the sport and football image modes: with bright colors and exaggerated sharpness, these are real blenders.
For fine-tuning, you can use TV test images that "Computer Bild" offers as a free download under the link.
Test images in UHD are also available.
Night mode or blue light filter on TVs
Many smartphones and tablets now have special screen settings with a reduced blue component to prevent sleep disorders.
This is less necessary with televisions.
This is because while the screens of smartphones, tablets and computers are often set to a color temperature of 9500 Kelvin and higher, that for televisions in the best film setting is 6500 Kelvin.
Accordingly, the proportion of blue on TV screens is significantly lower.
Adjust colors, brightness and contrast
If you want to adjust the image settings in detail, you should at least roughly know the effect of the various controls and options.
Only then are targeted changes possible.
The brightness regulator does not influence the overall picture brightness, but the brightness of darker areas of the picture (black level, with Samsung shadow detail).
A setting that is too high makes the image appear gray and flat; if the setting is too low, details in dark areas will drown.
Basically, this means the difference in brightness between the darkest and lightest areas of the image.
As a rule, the darkest areas are defined as the deepest possible black, so that the contrast regulator (with Philips video contrast) adjusts the brightness of white or very bright image areas.
If the setting is too low, the image looks gray; if the setting is too high, bright areas are outshone.
Regardless of the brightness and contrast, the overall image brightness can usually also be adjusted, i.e. how much light a television emits.
With LCD models including all variants such as LED and QLED, this corresponds to the brightness with which the backlight shines through the screen (background lighting, with Philips the contrast of the background).
The luminosity of OLED televisions with their self-illuminating pixels can be adjusted (with LG OLED light, Panasonic luminance level, Philips OLED contrast).
Its influence is best visible in white areas of the image.
With a warm setting they look brownish or reddish, with a cold setting they look bluish.
The color temperature is measured in Kelvin, the standard value for TV programs and films is 6500 Kelvin.
The TV settings are very confusing, however: lower values correspond to a warmer (!) Picture impression, higher values to a colder one.
The correct 6500K setting is called warm for most televisions (with Samsung color shade Warm2).
All visible colors can be mixed from the basic colors red, green and blue.
The clearer and richer these basic colors are, the more colors can be mixed from them, the color space spanned in the triangle of the basic colors is then larger.
It's like with the paint box: With the three pots of paint red, green and blue you can mix all imaginable nuances.
If, however, there are wrong colors in one of the pots, dirty-brownish colors will result.
In order for a television to correctly mix the colors during playback, it must adopt the color space of the film material (automatic setting).
The native color space (depending on the manufacturer also color range, color gamut, color spectrum) describes the maximum range that can be displayed by the television, which however does not correspond to any standard and therefore produces wrong, often too bright colors.
This allows you to set the color saturation, i.e. how bright colors appear.
If the setting is too high (LG: color depth), faces look like high blood pressure, if the setting is too low, they look unhealthy pale.
The gamma value can be used to set the course of the brightness levels.
Too high a setting leads to hard contrasts with few gradations (eroded white and drowning black), too low a setting to a dull image.
The often different scaling is confusing here: technically correct are gamma settings of 2.2 (somewhat softer, more for bright rooms) or 2.4 (crisper, only advisable for good TVs and dark rooms).
Many televisions offer negative and positive setting options for gamma based on a zero setting, the zero setting then usually corresponds to a gamma of 2.2.
Filmmaker Mode: The perfect cinema look
How televisions display movement is largely a matter of taste.
This question arises primarily in the case of cinema films.
They run at 24 frames per second - more was not possible 100 years ago.
To prevent the films from flickering, cinema projectors show each image twice in a row.
The disadvantage: jerky movements.
Better TVs can smooth the motion sequences with options like Auto Motion Plus, True Motion, or Intelligent Frame Creation.
For some moviegoers this seems artificial or unfamiliar, directors and producers such as Tom Cruise raised their forefingers as a warning that televisions would falsify the cinematic works of art with their image processing.
Therefore, there is now the so-called Filmmaker Mode on new televisions from LG, Panasonic and Samsung.
This means that televisions adhere to common color standards and switch off any post-processing.
However, the tests by “Computer Bild” showed that this mode is far too dark on most televisions - after all, living rooms are not a place to work for film production.
In the setting tips you will find out how to make improvements in such cases.
HDR setting: how it works
Films in the HDR standard make it tricky and somewhat confusing.
They contain a larger range of colors and contrasts.
HDR movies and series can stream smart TVs from platforms like Amazon and Netflix.
External players are also delivering more and more HDR material, such as UHD Blu-ray players (UHD = Ultra High Definition, Ultra HD or 4K), game consoles and the newer versions of the Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV streaming boxes.
Many televisions require re-setting of the picture for HDR.
The best picture mode for HDR often has the same name as for regular films, supplemented by the abbreviation HDR.
Are you unsure whether your TV really shows its full potential with HDR films?
You can check this with the new HDR quick test from "Computer Bild", so that the HDR setting can be easily set without specialist knowledge.
With the HDR quick test, every HDR television can be optimized in no time at all.
Source: Computer Bild
The test pattern is a one-minute video clip with all the elements and test pattern content to easily and precisely optimize the playback of any HDR TV.
In the lower part of the video sequence, professionals will find a legend for all test image fields included.
But in principle it is sufficient to pay attention to the smileys in the test image fields when setting the television.
Calibrate the TV with Calman Autocal
Is it not enough for you if your television only shows 95 or 99 percent of its possible picture quality?
Then professional tools have to be used: You can officially optimize TVs with a colorimeter (colorimeter or spectrometer) and special test images.
High-quality devices in particular offer very finely adjustable controls to precisely match the colors at all brightness levels.
Because all settings influence each other, this can be very tedious and take several hours.
The manufacturers LG, Panasonic and Samsung facilitate the adjustment through interfaces on their top televisions to the software Calman of portrait displays.
In addition to the professional version of this software, the aforementioned color measurement device and a compatible test image generator are required.
"Computer Bild" uses a colorimeter and the Calman software to determine the image mode with the best image quality
Source: Computer Bild
The software lets the generator reproduce countless color tones one after the other on the TV set and compares the values determined by the colorimeter with the target values.
Calman then feeds the appropriate correction values into the television.
With Samsung this works via a special serial interface, with LG, Panasonic and Sony via the network.
The number of correction values differs depending on the manufacturer, but the resulting differences are more academic.
At LG, Autocal intervenes most deeply in color management and stores a correction matrix of a good 1000 values, colors of all shades and levels of brightness.
The Panasonic FZW954 is almost perfectly adjusted in the "True Cinema" mode at the factory, the Calman Autocal function perfects the coordination
Source: Computer Bild
Much more important: Despite the fixed workflows in the software including short explanations, the calibration is anything but self-explanatory.
In detail, a number of settings are required in the software and on the TV.
For buyers of high-quality televisions, however, it is worth asking the dealer about it.
Mediamarkt and Saturn offer calibration.
For gamers: short latency game mode
What is good for film playback annoys console gamers: For image optimization, televisions first store one or more individual images for analysis in their cache so that they can better optimize based on the analysis of several individual images.
The displayed image lags behind the inputs on the game controller by the time required for this (input lag or latency).
Frustration is inevitable, especially with first-person shooters and racing games.
Special game modes reduce the time lag.
The overview of gaming televisions reveals which models then show the lowest latency.