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Panasonic TX-P50ST50 - 3D Picture Quality

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic P50ST50


Our Score:


With the Panasonic P50ST50 also delivering on plasma’s usual advantage when it comes to viewing angles, there’s really only one serious complaint that can be levelled at its 2D pictures: a relative lack of brightness versus your average LED picture. Even using the set’s Dynamic picture preset (which isn’t actually something we’d recommend for 2D viewing) pictures can look somewhat muted if you’re watching them in a sun-drenched/harshly lit room.

In a relatively dark room, though, the lack of brightness becomes a complete non-issue. Indeed, the exceptional depth of the screen’s black level response together with the screen’s ability to show bright and dark image elements simultaneously means images look startlingly dynamic in relatively low light conditions.

Panasonic P50ST50

One much smaller issue with the P50ST50’s pictures finds skin tones occasionally and briefly - very briefly - breaking up into fizzing noise if they’re passing quickly across the screen. But as well as being largely limited to standard def viewing, this flaw comes and goes so quickly that it’s almost subliminal.

3D picture quality

Moving to 3D, the P50ST50 also shows serious - and timely, given how much better some 3D LCD TVs have become - signs of improvement. Crosstalk has reduced from "already low" to practically non-existent, for starters. But also notable is how there are fewer issues with colour banding during dark scenes thanks, most likely, to the "2000Hz" system. There’s still a little more banding during, say, the lanterns at night sequence in Chapter 8 of Tangled than you would get with a high quality LED 3D screen, but for the most part we were too busy soaking up the good stuff to notice the minor banding flaws.

Also much improved is the brightness and punch of Panasonic’s plasma 3D images. Admittedly the new glasses still knock out more brightness than arguably any other 3D goggles we can think of, but using the set’s dynamic mode (with colours slightly reined in) the sense of brightness sacrifice when shifting from 2D to 3D isn’t so bad as it was last year, and what you’re watching still looks engaging and dynamic.

Motion is handled better in 3D on the P50ST50 too than it was on last year’s ST30 series, with less judder and greater clarity - whether you employ the ‘24p Smooth Film’ processing (which becomes available when watching Blu-rays) or not.

Panasonic P50ST50

Even using the Dynamic 3D picture preset it’s undeniable that recent 3D pictures from Samsung and LG look a fair bit brighter than those of the P50ST50. But the set’s impressive and consistent black levels during 3D viewing, high levels of detail from 3D Blu-rays and the absence of crosstalk provide ample compensation. Just try, again, to watch 3D films in relatively dark circumstances.

Considering the Panasonic P50ST50 as a gaming screen, so long as you treat it with a little care in its initial few dozen hours of use regarding image retention, it’s a very good display indeed. Using its special Game preset, its contrast-rich pictures work superbly with the likes of the Gears of War and Uncharted titles. Plasma’s freedom from image blur is refreshing too, while input lag measured only around 35ms, which isn’t high enough to significantly damage your gaming performance.

Turning finally to the P50ST50’s audio, it’s actually a touch disappointing. To be fair, its lack of bass and inability to really open up when the going gets tough are common in the flat TV world. But all the talk of a new type of audio system on the P50ST50 had got us hoping for more. Ah well.


The Panasonic P50ST50's in many ways outstanding pictures deliver a salutary reminder in these LED-dominated times of why plasma was first invented. It also reminds us why, for us, a top-notch plasma TV continues to produce the most natural and certainly most cinematic pictures the TV world has to offer.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • 2D Quality 9
  • 3D Quality 9
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound Quality 7
  • Value 8


September 22, 2012, 12:24 pm

I bought this TV 2th September, really like the picture quality especially in 2D because of its outstanding black level but i'm not really impressed with the 3D as the image does not jump out like it does on most LED, although the content that watched are 2D images converted to 3D


September 24, 2012, 11:16 am

Hi. I have dilemma. Is the GT50 worth the extra over the ST50?

I know all technical details from data sheet and I have read almost all reviews from web. But it is still not absolutely clear for me what this features means in practical use:
GT has in addition:
- more steps of gradation (picture quality is visible better?)
- DVB-S / S2 tuner (do I need it now or in future?)
- THX and PRO modes (If I calibrate ST50, do I still need THX?)
- 2500 FFD (is motion visible better?)
- Smart VIERA engine PRO (what is it? What visible benefit I can expect?)
- Pure image creation (what is it? What visible benefit I can expect?)
- facial retouch (what is it? What visible benefit I can expect?)
- 1080p pure direct (what is it? What visible benefit I can expect?)
- bluetoth connectivity
- multitasking (what is it?)
- DLNA - DNS (what is it?)

GT models have these features, ST not. Still one question: [b]Is the GT50 worth the extra over the ST50?[/b]
Thank you very much.



September 24, 2012, 3:39 pm

Hi Pavol

The short answer here is that in our opinion the GT50 is worth the extra over the ST50.

For starters, the GT50s suffer much less with crosstalk when watching 3D than the ST50s.

The GT50s also render motion slightly more effectively, with less judder, and there's more subtlety and precision in their rendering of colour and greyscale gradation, which gives the picture a markedly more accurate and precise look.

In terms of some of the other specific questions you ask, the DVB-S tuner is only useful if you intend to use Freesat as your main broadcast source. Freesat is less critical now that Freeview HD is so widespread, and isn't the most practical option unless you've already got an old Sky dish already installed. But if you still struggle with Freeview reception then clearly Freesat is well worth having.

Freesat does offer some channel differences too - for instance, it carried extra Channel 4 Olympics channels not available on Freeview. But the Freesat decision is ultimately a personal one.

The THX and Pro modes are arguably not as important to people happy to tinker with picture settings themselves as they are to people who like things to be set up 'professionally' for them. That said, the THX day mode is a useful shortcut, and you need the Pro modes if you want to pay to have your TV calibrated by an ISF engineer.

The Pro version of the Smart Viera engine applies more picture processing algorithms in real time than the ST50s version, delivering more accurate results. This is especially useful when upscaling standard def, but also plays a part in the TV's superior HD colour and grayscale subtleties...


September 24, 2012, 3:39 pm

Pure Image Creation is chiefly for use with standard def, and essentially decreases compression noise and jagged edges. Its impact is subtle but nonetheless visible on at least some standard def content, so it's worth having.

Facial retouch lets you adjust skin tones independently of the other colour tones in the image. This wasn't a feature we felt the need to use, but it also doesn't do any harm if you treat it carefully.

The 1080p Pure Direct feature, meanwhile, turns off as much processing as possible when showing 1080p Blu-ray films. This will appeal to image purists, and although its impact seems restricted to slightly richer colours, it's a good feature to have.

The GT50's Bluetooth connectivity allows you to use Bluetooth keyboards and external speaker systems with the TV.

The multitasking feature lets you have open up to six apps simultaneously, and we actually found it so useful that it almost revolutionises the multimedia TV experience.

Finally, the DMS addition to the GT50's DLNA capabilities lets the TV stream from Digital Media Servers as well as PCs, USB devices and SD cards.

To conclude, while both ranges are excellent in their own right, we'd recommend the GT50 over the ST50 on both performance and feature grounds if you can afford the step up.

Good luck with whatever TV you ultimately go for!

John Archer


September 24, 2012, 9:41 pm

Hi John,

thank you very much for very useful answer. It hepls me a lot.

There is no GT model in our stores (Slovakia). So I can not compare it. There are only ST50 and VT50. VT50 looks great, I really like it, thanks its filter. In the lit environment it is better then ST.

Finnaly it will be question of money. I will try to find GT model somewhere.




December 23, 2012, 7:20 pm


I do not think you should compare the plasma with LEDs because they are two different entities. Plasma draws average more energy, but the image quality is usually better than LCD / LED. If you can darken the room, usually plasma better than LCD / LED, otherwise not.

It would be better if you could compare other plasma screens with this so we'll see how much more (or less) energy efficient it is.

Dennis Vos

May 21, 2013, 2:58 pm

Hello John,

I am trying to make a decision regarding this GT50 and the ST50 based on the reviews on this site. I understand the answer you gave to Pavol, but what if I only care about the picture quality in 2D? Then what TV would you choose?

I don't care about smart options (I have a laptop and iPhone if I need internet, I have a mediaplayer to play movies, concerts etc etc and I have a digital cable recorder to record TV shows I will miss), I care even less about 3D. I almost choose a LED TV (LG50LM760) but by closing the blinds I think I can make my room dark enough to make sure direct sunlight is not an issue anymore.

Maybe it helps to mention I mostly watch football (the european kind :P), movies, series and concerts.

The reason for almost choosing the LG was the borders of the TV, but I guess that Plasma still has superior image quality.

I hope you can make my choise a bit easier, or would you choose even another TV since the only demand I have is image quality (and good looks will help as well) thanks for your time :)


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