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Sharpness Calibration

The Digital Video Essentials disc's approach to sharpness is to present you with a highly detailed test pattern full of lines and overscan per centage markings that make it much easier to see when the halo effect kicks in. I personally use when fine-tuning sharpness the particularly narrow vertical lines that intersect the horizontal lines running from points G and C on the Overscan test signal's ‘geography'. And I stand closer to the screen than I normally would to make sure I see the edge ‘halo' the moment it appears.

Here the sharpness setting is far too high

In a slightly related manner, the DVE disc also provides patterns for checking the geometry of your picture, and the pixel phase. But these are more useful to show you the problems caused by not eliminating overscan or by choosing the wrong aspect ratio than they are in helping you actually calibrate your TV.

The HQV disc has a couple of useful test signals relating to detail, too. As with all the HQV signals they're more designed to test your TV than improve it, but actually, I sometimes find that I can use its static video and moving film resolution tests to both fine tune sharpness manually, and tweak the impact of motion enhancement circuitry if a TV provides different levels of motion processing.
Here the sharpness is just about right

That, you'll probably be pleased to know, is pretty much that. The only remaining thing for me to say, really, is that if this entire feature has terrified you, there may be another solution to getting your TV calibrated correctly: get someone else to do it!

A growing number of TVs - including the majority of LG's new range and Pioneer's KUROs - feature something called ISF compatibility. This means that they have been deemed by the independent Imaging Science Foundation as having sufficient picture adjustment flexibility to be professionally calibrated by a trained ISF engineer. All you have to do is contact them, cough up for the call out, and bob's your uncle, perfect pictures without ever having to even press your TV's menu button.

All that's left to say now is that I apologise profusely for starting this feature with a completely pointless Jane Austen reference. I have no idea why I did it; it just seemed like a good idea at the time. Now… not so much.

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