Sony KD-65XD9305 - Picture quality

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Sony KD-65XD9305 – Picture Quality

On the whole, the KD-65XD9305’s pictures are superb, but there are some issues – as has been the case with the other two 2016 HDR TVs I’ve seen so far (the Panasonic 50DX750 and Samsung UE55KS9000).

With 4K HDR images, the KD-65XD9305 delivers cinema-quality pictures. Colours look exquisite; the TV delivers not only on the expanded tonal extremes you get on today’s HDR Ultra HD Blu-rays, but also with the extra finesse made possible by its 10-bit panel.
Sony KD-65XD9305
Even Samsung’s UN55KS9000 doesn’t deliver quite the same delicacy with its colour handling, despite also being a 10-bit panel and covering roughly the same quoted amount of the DCI-P3 colour spectrum.

Being able to deliver colours with such authority and finesse helps to create a beautifully realistic image, where objects appear so solid and defined within their surroundings that scenes look almost three-dimensional at times.

Also contributing to that feeling you’re watching a beautified version of reality is the KD-65XD9305’s effortlessly strong handling of 4K detail from the best of my Ultra HD Blu-ray disc collection. Adding HDR’s expanded brightness and colour range to 4K detail, and the KD-65XD9305’s mesmerising capability of blending all these things together, results in pictures that aren’t quite like any I’ve seen before.

Note that the KD-65XD9305 doesn’t quite hit the same HDR light peaks and extreme colour saturations of the Samsung UE55KS9000. But while this means the Sony’s picture arguably isn’t quite so truly HDR, it’s still miles beyond SDR, and I have no doubt that there will be folk who prefer the KD-65XD9305’s slightly less extreme approach.

While there are many a times that the KD-65XD9305’s pictures will genuinely take your breath away, dark scenes can reveal an irritating, if predictable, flaw.
Sony KD-65XD9305
The issue is simply that when there’s a really bright light source within a predominantly dark HDR image, even Sony’s Slimline Backlight Drive can’t stop some pretty obvious backlight blocking from showing up around the bright object.

Sure, the unwanted extra light that spills over the darkness around the bright object doesn’t extend to the full width or height of the image – as it would with a normal edge LED TV using a single light guide plate – but it’s obvious enough to be distracting with very high-contrast HDR content.

The problems I’m describing are exacerbated if using Sony’s HDR Vivid option, joined by further distractions from some excessive “stepping” of the image’s overall brightness level. This is caused by an over-enthusiastic dynamic contrast system.

It’s important to stress that for the vast majority of the time the KD-65XD9305’s 4K HDR pictures are magnificent. It’s also the case that you can reduce the obviousness of the dark scene backlight issues by making sure you retain some light in your room – although this solution probably won’t appeal to film fans.

In order to become completely immersed in whatever it is you’re watching, image consistency is key, and in this respect the KD-65XD9305’s trouble with extreme contrast HDR scenes means it comes up short.

Sony’s set is on safer ground with SDR content. The backlight system doesn’t need to work anywhere near as hard with such images, so you can take enough brightness out of the picture to remove practically all traces of the distracting backlight workings to leave rich, deep, even black levels much more in keeping with the best of Sony’s recent TV output.
Sony KD-65XD9305
Colours in SDR pictures look well balanced and full of tonal subtleties, while detail levels continue to look outstanding. This is the case with both SDR native 4K sources and upscaled HD. Sony’s excellent upscaling also does a superb job of keeping both source and processing noise out of upscaled images.

The KD-65XD9305’s SDR (and, actually, HDR) images further benefit from some exceptionally strong motion processing, which keeps the set’s 4K and colour detail intact, even during action scenes.

The only issue I have with the KD-65XD9305’s standard definition performance is that I had to remove more brightness from the picture to sidestep all the potential backlight flaws than I’d ideally have liked.