The single clearest example of the Panasonic TX-L47DT50‘s black level issues can be seen on the Harry Potter disc during the shot where Harry, Hermione and Ron have a brief discussion at the top of some stairs after chatting to a goblin, about five minutes into the film. The shot starts in a relatively bright room downstairs before panning upwards with the light in the shot constantly reducing until you’re left with a shot that’s extremely dark.
On the L47DT50, where the shot contains a fairly even mixture of light and dark content, dark areas of the picture look quite much greyer than we’d like them to. Worse, there’s also evidence of backlight inconsistency, where some parts of the picture look unnaturally brighter than others.
This latter flaw is common with edge LED TVs, of course. But what’s particularly painful about its appearance on the Panasonic TX-L47DT50 is that there’s precious little you can do about it, thanks to Panasonic bizarrely not including a backlight adjustment among its picture options.
Going back to the Harry Potter shot, as the camera moves up from the bright room the L47DT50 delivers a sudden quite severe drop in the image’s overall brightness, as the TV realises that there’s not much light in the image and really ramps down its light output to boost black levels. But then as soon as a bit more light seeps back into the picture, just as suddenly and obviously the TV ups its brightness output and causes dark areas to look grey again.
Dynamic contrast distractions
Any TV with a dynamic contrast system (ie, most) goes through similar sorts of processes, of course. But the Panasonic TX-L47DT50‘s dynamic contrast machinations are much more distractingly obvious than usual. And if there’s one thing you don’t want to be while watching a film, it’s distracted.
The L47DT50 is arguably at its best in 3D mode. For having secured a pair of Panasonic’s 3D glasses (none are included with the TV, alas), we found ourselves mesmerised by the set’s exceptionally detailed, sharp, crosstalk-free images. The almost total freedom from crosstalk’s annoying double ghosting is particularly welcome, especially as crosstalk continues to plague almost all other LCD TVs to some extent.
Also gratifying is the amount of vibrancy 3D images retain despite the inevitable dimming effect of the active shutter glasses. In this respect - and in the smoothness with which colour blends are reproduced - the Panasonic TX-L47DT50 is arguably preferable in 3D mode to Panasonic’s 3D plasmas.
It’s worth noting, too, that thanks to the slight darkening impact of Panasonic’s 3D glasses, the black level problems that cause trouble with 2D viewing are much less noticeable in 3D mode.
Good 3D motion
Sealing the 3D deal is the extremely effective clarity and smoothness of the L47DT50’s motion reproduction, as the set almost completely avoids the increased judder issues commonly witnessed while watching 3D.
There’s no overstating just how effective the Panasonic TX-L47DT50’s 3D is. And in being so excellent, it’s plenty good enough to make the efforts of almost all other 3D LCD TVs look slightly off the pace.
This is great news, of course, if you’re a keen 3D gamer. So it’s also good to find that the L47DT50 measures only around 38ms of input lag - a low enough figure to ensure that your fast gaming skills shouldn’t be heavily dented by the TV’s response time.
Wrapping up with the Panasonic TX-L47DT50’s audio, it’s not bad considering how slender the TV is. With normal TV there’s a reassuringly well-rounded tone to vocals and a reasonably punchy presentation to detail and music. The only downside is that bass is in fairly short supply - but not so much so that trebles sound nastily overexposed and harsh during action scenes.
There’s an awful lot to like about the Panasonic TX-L47DT50. Its pictures with bright, colourful content are terrific, its motion handling is superb, and its HD detailing is outstanding. Its design is remarkably attractive too, considering Panasonic’s rather drab design history, and its got plenty of multimedia talents to keep you busy.
Unfortunately, though, the L47DT50’s undoes much of this positive work with its disappointing handling of dark scenes - especially given that this is one of the most expensive 46-47in TVs around right now.