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RGB - Full/Limited, Discovering truths and calibrating your TV


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Poll: RGB

What setting do you use?

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Do you get "crushed" blacks? (If you try RGB full)

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#1 Audioboxer

Audioboxer

    Hermit Arcana

  • Joined: 01-December 03
  • Location: UK, Scotland

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:02

Ok here's two techinical excerts on RGB limited/Full - Bit of reading for you, but if you care about your TV display calibration/quality clueing yourself up on this setting is crucial :yes:

Ok, here's the deal. Televisions are designed to work with a limited range of RGB numbers; 16-235. This means that anything black is output at 16, and white is at 235 RGB.

Monitors on the other hand are designed to work with the full 8-bit RGB range, which is 0-255. 0 being black, 255 being white.

Internally the PS3 is rendering everything using the full RGB range, 0-255. When you are sending a limited signal, the brightness range is compressed and output as 16-235.

16-235 on a properly calibrated television should look virtually identical to 0-255 on a properly calibrated monitor.


However, newer HDTVs may also support the 0-255 range as well as 16-235, and others that are really just big monitors may only support 0-255. Many of these have DVI instead of HDMI, and often a lot of the cheaper brands will work like this.



If you send a display that is expecting the full 0-255 range the limited output then blacks will look grey and whites will be dulled.

On the other-hand if you send a display that is expecting the limited range (most televisions) the full 0-255 range, you will see a big increase in image contrast, but all of your shadow and highlight detail will become pure black and pure white. As you are overdriving the display (sending 255 when it is expecting to only receive 235) you may also see colour shifts with white objects. (they might be tinted red, for example)

Many people perceive this as "better blacks" however the black level itself will not change. If you have a full black screen up it will look identical.



It's all about using the correct signal type for your display. If your screen is expecting limited RGB, then that is what you should be sending it. If you are using a monitor, or a display that is expecting the full range, then you should be sending that.

If your display supports both, then you are best to use Full RGB. As I mentioned earlier, the PS3 will be rendering internally using 0-255 and then compressing the range to 16-235 for limited. This means that there are only 219 steps of brightness vs 255 so gradations are potentially going to be smoother if you are using full RGB. The "blacks" or colour reproduction should look the same on either setting, the only change is potentially a slightly smoother image.



So how do you find out what your display supports? Well if you're hooked up to a monitor, it's 99% certain that it will be expecting a Full RGB signal.

So how do you know if your TV supports it? TVs generally have a hard cut-off on the 16-235 range, turning anything outside that to pure black / pure white. (eg 15 would be jet black, no matter how high you set brightness)

Make sure your PS3 is set to limited and download this image onto a memory stick, load it up in the PS3 browser etc:

http://sr-388.net/im.../Brightness.jpg

Turn up the brightness control on your display until you can (hopefully) see all four numbers. (1% grey, 2% etc) Assuming you can see all four, adjust brightness to the point where 1 is just about to turn solid black. (if the lowest number you can see is 2, then adjust it until that is almost black)

Now, enable Full RGB. If your screen supports it, you should still be able to read the same numbers. If not, it will turn pure black. However, many TVs that support both won't auto-switch between the two, so you may need to check your TV's menus for a "black level" setting. (may be called something different) If you have that, change it and you should see the numbers pop back up onscreen.


If you can't see the numbers at all when you enable Full RGB and don't have any options that bring them back, you should be using limited. If you can still see them all, you're probably fine using Full RGB.

If you do use Full RGB, check your contrast setting is ok. If it is set too high, you may not be able to see the 99, 98, 97, 96% grey in this image:

http://sr-388.net/im...ns/Contrast.jpg

Note: Just because you may be able to max out contrast and still see all the numbers does not mean that is the correct setting. This can only tell you if it's clipping highlight detail, not if it's too bright.



"I think people are confused as to what FULL and LIMITED RGB are for - they are NOT to do with Deep Colour and xycc colour.

They are to do with support for legacy RGB DVI displays which support only 0-255 RGB levels and not the broadcast/studio standard of 16-235 RGB levels which almost all HDMI displays should support, and is the levels standard used for DVDs and BluRays.

Many displays will cope with either setting and deliver near identical results - though will need re-calibration depending on which one you chose. If you do not recalibrate, then FULL will appear to have deeper, crushed blacks and thus more saturated colours, and brighter whites. However with correct calibration on a studio level capable display there should be no difference. Additionally Limited levels will allow blacker-than-black and whiter-than-white to be passed through, whereas Full levels can't allow this as anything below 16 or above 235 in studio levels terms is mapped to 0 or 255 in Full (aka PC level terms)

In FULL mode the source - which is 16-235 - is remapped to 0-255 - so blacks which are encoded on the BluRay source at level 16, are not output at 16 and instead reduced to 0. Whites which are encoded on the BluRay source at level 235 are scaled to hit 255. Anything below 16 or above 235 (so called Blacker than Black and Whiter than White information) is clipped in FULL mode - it is NOT passed.

The key thing to understand is that broadcast TV, DVDs, HD-DVDs and BluRay are mastered with black at 16 and White at 235 (whether RGB or YCrCb representation are used - and Cr Cb are 16-240 centred around 127) These are known as studio or broadcast levels - and have a narrower black-to-white range to allow for below-black and above-white excursions to be carried without clipping - which is an important issue when you are mixing analogue and video sources (Transitions can cause spikes in analogue circuitry that will go past black and white levels, if these are clipped, they will cause ringing - i.e. artificial black/white edge distortion - when converted back to analogue.)

The fact that FULL and LIMITED are not simply different ways of displaying a signal with the same range - as you suggest - is clearly visible when you flip between modes - as in FULL mode the black level drops and white level increases. This is NOT what would happen if the switch was simply between passing <16 and >235 or not and keeping black at 16 and white at 235 - you would get no black or white level shift. But you do.

Super White is the option that allows whiter-than-white to be passed - not FULL.

FULL is simply an option Sony added to remap 16-235 studio levels to the older DVI RGB standard (previously uncatered for in PS3) using PC levels of 0-255. It is NOT to do with passing blacker than black or whiter than white - as it clips <16 and >235 levels in the remap process. This is important for projectors and owners of older HDTVs with DVI inputs added for use with PCs rather than video sources.

It is a pity Sony chose FULL and LIMITED as descriptions - as it implies FULL offers better results and LIMITED is somehow inferior. (I'd have thought STUDIO and COMPUTER levels might have been better)"


In another topic on NW, I posted this about it...

I know you're talking about RGB full...

"Dangerous" setting, many HDTVs WILL accept the change, but they crush your blacks.

What does that mean? In areas where you should see various shades of black, for example a shadow, or a corner of a room where you can see some things, but not others, will be JET BLACK. Meaning you can't see any detail at all.

Instead of that corner in the room being dark, but you can still make out a chair, a pot or even a person, with RGB full on a display that doesn't support it you won't see anything - Just completely black.

A good example is with the Warhawk menu that shows when you hover over the icon on the XMB - The one with the plane. Keep your display on limited and look at it, in the corners you can make out other people and planes. Put RGB full on, and if it's crushing your blacks, you won't see any of the details above. It will just be black. I might go do a photo comparison...

I have a Bravia KDL40V3000 and limited range with a PROPER calibrated display works best. Don't just chuck on RGB full and think because your contrast looks deeper, and the XMB looks better, you're actually benefiting.

Take the time to calibrate your TV properly, and you shouldn't need RGB full at all, even if your TV supports it.

RGB full is primarly for MONITORS, not HDTVs, and only a few HDTVs will actually support it without crushing blacks.

Same with the 360's settings, I forget what they all are, standard, intermediate, extended? I keep to standard and just calibrate the display properly.


More "down to earth" explanation of what RGB full may do to your display :p

Here is some screens to prove it...

Ok just to show what im saying.

Note, my TV has been properly calibrated and NO TV settings are changed in these two photos - The only thing that changes is RGB on, and RGB off.

(sorry for quality in advance, pics taken with my old digi cam for quickness)

Posted Image


^ Limited RGB, notice the detail seen in the darker areas.

Posted Image


^ RBG on, blacks are crushed, meaning less detail can be seen in the darker areas.

Now what a lot of people then end up doing is firing up their contrast/brightness settings with RGB on when they find it hard to see things - Especially in Uncharted, which takes place in the jungle with lots of shadows.

DO NOT do that. Calibrate your TV properly - If anyone wants some help/advice doing that I'll be happy to help out.


The reason im posting this, is it's scary online how many people say/think turning on RGB full is a "quick fix" to make PS3 games look better.

I think there will now be a high population of PS3 owners running RGB full when they shouldn't be.

The best thing you can do is calibrate your TV properly. A properly calibrated TV will look balanced in contrast/colour/brightness and have rich blacks and keep black detail. Use this topic to discuss calibration as well, where to get help, and what settings you use on your TV.

I have a Bravia KDL40V3000, and for anyone else who may, these are the settings I use,

PS3 - HDMI

Picture Mode - Cinema
Backlight - 3
Contrast - 88
Brightness - 49
Colour - 58
Colour Temp - Warm2
Sharpness - 15

Everything else off, and everything off in advance menu.

Colour Space - Standard


I also belive this IS the same for the 360's options of standard, intermediate and expanded.

Intermediate/expanded are "artificial" boosts to contrast/brightness that may also result in crushed blacks.

As with the PS3, it's best to stick with standard and calibrate your TV display properly.

Sony should of named it better than "full" and "limited" as that makes people think limited is inferior.

It should've been TV/Monitor, or something to that nature.

Edited by Audioboxer, 28 February 2008 - 16:58.



#2 Huleboeren

Huleboeren

    Neowinian Senior

  • Joined: 14-May 06
  • Location: cph

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:10

Full
Unsure

Cant be bothered calibrating my Samsung 32" M61b
Its either oversaturated(especially reds) or B&W - nothing in between

I tried everything :/ nothing seems to work

#3 Keito

Keito

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  • Joined: 12-June 03
  • Location: Netherlands

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:15

I have a Samsung LE28S81b LCD TV and I used to use Full RGB as well; however, I seem to get better results with the RGB set to limited and adjusting the HDMI Black level from the menu - the TV makes the dark colors darker a bit, but keeps detail - keeping is more subtle than switching to Full RGB, I suggest trying the same if you have a Samsung TV

#4 OP Audioboxer

Audioboxer

    Hermit Arcana

  • Joined: 01-December 03
  • Location: UK, Scotland

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:16

Full
Unsure

Cant be bothered calibrating my Samsung 32" M61b
Its either oversaturated(especially reds) or B&W - nothing in between

I tried everything :/ nothing seems to work


There is a lot of calibration DVDs out there, but good places to look for manual settings are

AVforums - http://www.avforums....splay.php?f=155
AVSforum - http://www.avsforum....splay.php?f=166

You'll find topics for your TV, and usually people post calibrated settings to try.

I'll have a browse on the forums for settings for your TV, and the rest of the web.

One setting that is univeral for all TVs is turning colour space to standard instead of wide - Wide gives it that awful fake look you see in electrical outlets, as it makes the colours totally "pop out"/saturated, and look unrealistic.

I guarantee on Full you are crushing your blacks right now...

#5 cloudstrife13

cloudstrife13

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  • Joined: 11-August 05
  • Location: MB, Canada

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:16

Full on my PS3 and extended on my 360 just looks better to me. Maybe I'll play with it more and see what I can do.

If full is what DVDs, HD-DVDs, and Blu-rays are mastered with doesn't it make more sense to use that? Yes I know your loosing 16 shades of black and that some things the blacks will be crushed. But if it was mastered using Full it wouldn't use those 16 thus not having crushed blacks.

Also for Color Temp I like Cold 1 on my TV.

I'm sure you're total right, but to me my setting just look best to me. I for sure will play with the settings some more and see what I can come up with.

#6 OP Audioboxer

Audioboxer

    Hermit Arcana

  • Joined: 01-December 03
  • Location: UK, Scotland

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:23

Full on my PS3 and extended on my 360 just looks better to me. Maybe I'll play with it more and see what I can do.

If full is what DVDs, HD-DVDs, and Blu-rays are mastered with doesn't it make more sense to use that? Yes I know your loosing 16 shades of black and that some things the blacks will be crushed. But if it was mastered using Full it wouldn't use those 16 thus not having crushed blacks.

Also for Color Temp I like Cold 1 on my TV.

I'm sure you're total right, but to me my setting just look best to me. I for sure will play with the settings some more and see what I can come up with.


You've got it the wrong way around, limited is the correct setting for dvs/hd-dvds/blu ray/ect.

The key thing to understand is that broadcast TV, DVDs, HD-DVDs and BluRay are mastered with black at 16 and White at 235 (whether RGB or YCrCb representation are used - and Cr Cb are 16-240 centred around 127)


In FULL mode the source - which is 16-235 - is remapped to 0-255 - so blacks which are encoded on the BluRay source at level 16, are not output at 16 and instead reduced to 0.


^

That is why you lose detail. A black level in a Blu Ray that's suppose to be at 16, will be reduced to 0, crushing any detail as 0 = JET BLACK, instead of 16 = A shade of black.

I do urge you to look into calibrating it properly. RGB full gives a quick feeling that things look better as the TV contrast is darker - XMB takes a noticeable hit with RGB full, making it appear "richer".

However a calibrated TV will produce similar black results, but also keep black/shadow detail. I'm telling you playing Uncharted on RGB full can be very difficult at times.

I've read people complaining about it being "too dark" a game, but the issue isn't the game, it's people running on RGB full.

Also for Color Temp I like Cold 1 on my TV.


Neutral -> Warm 2 is realistic.

Cold settings are not.

Warm2 is the "closet" you'll get to real life colours, it's measured in TV reviews from respectable sites.

It may take a while to get used to, as at first, it seems that things are "too yellow" but your eyes will adjust.

Try Warm1 first if you find Warm2 a "harsh" jump.

Warm2 in Cinema mode, produces the most realistic colours/looking picture when im playing a Blu Ray.

To be fair though, with these settings it is up to the user, the main thing to resolve first though is RGB Full/Limited.

#7 cloudstrife13

cloudstrife13

    Neowinian Senior

  • Joined: 11-August 05
  • Location: MB, Canada

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:31

You've got it the wrong way around, limited is the correct setting for dvs/hd-dvds/blu ray/ect.



I do urge you to look into calibrating it properly. RGB full gives a quick feeling that things look better as the TV contrast is darker - XMB takes a noticeable hit with RGB full, making it appear "richer".

However a calibrated TV will produce similar black results, but also keep black/shadow detail. I'm telling you playing Uncharted on RGB full can be very difficult at times.

I've read people complaining about it being "too dark" a game, but the issue isn't the game, it's people running on RGB full.



Neutral -> Warm 2 is realistic.

Cold settings are not.

Warm2 is the "closet" you'll get to real life colours, it's measured in TV reviews from respectable sites.

It may take a while to get used to, as at first, it seems that things are "too yellow" but your eyes will adjust.

Try Warm1 first if you find Warm2 a "harsh" jump.

Warm2 in Cinema mode, produces the most realistic colours/looking picture when im playing a Blu Ray.


Ah ok so my brain read that part backwards. Well thanks Audio for clearing that up. When I get home tonight I will do my best to calibrate my TV. It's my parents 50" DLP HDTV 720P. It's a bit old now but it still does very good, but when I look at other peoples LCDs (a few friends have some very expensive ones) I'm blown away by the contrast! Setting it to full looked like it made my TV more comparable but I guess it hurt it the blacks. I will probably be buying my own HDTV (probably LCD and between 36 and 42 inches) much later this year, but I'll want to do a lot of research and get a really good gaming one.

The reason why I choose cool over warm is I like white light more then yellow light (like how I prefer HIDs on a car then Incandescent). But I never knew warm had a more real colors.

So I know to use Limited but what about Super White? On or Off?

Edited by cloudstrife13, 28 February 2008 - 16:36.


#8 OP Audioboxer

Audioboxer

    Hermit Arcana

  • Joined: 01-December 03
  • Location: UK, Scotland

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:40

Here is another lengthy explanation on RGB full, and it has a test you can carry out with a memory stick and viewing 2 images on your PS3,

Do please read it, it will help you understand (Y)

As I said though, RGB full is typically used on monitors BUT some HDTVs might support it - Even if your HDTV does, as I said, it doesn't really matter as your TV properly calibrated on limited, would look the same with the same settings on RGB full.

Ok, here's the deal. Televisions are designed to work with a limited range of RGB numbers; 16-235. This means that anything black is output at 16, and white is at 235 RGB.

Monitors on the other hand are designed to work with the full 8-bit RGB range, which is 0-255. 0 being black, 255 being white.

Internally the PS3 is rendering everything using the full RGB range, 0-255. When you are sending a limited signal, the brightness range is compressed and output as 16-235.

16-235 on a properly calibrated television should look virtually identical to 0-255 on a properly calibrated monitor.


However, newer HDTVs may also support the 0-255 range as well as 16-235, and others that are really just big monitors may only support 0-255. Many of these have DVI instead of HDMI, and often a lot of the cheaper brands will work like this.



If you send a display that is expecting the full 0-255 range the limited output then blacks will look grey and whites will be dulled.

On the other-hand if you send a display that is expecting the limited range (most televisions) the full 0-255 range, you will see a big increase in image contrast, but all of your shadow and highlight detail will become pure black and pure white. As you are overdriving the display (sending 255 when it is expecting to only receive 235) you may also see colour shifts with white objects. (they might be tinted red, for example)

Many people perceive this as "better blacks" however the black level itself will not change. If you have a full black screen up it will look identical.



It's all about using the correct signal type for your display. If your screen is expecting limited RGB, then that is what you should be sending it. If you are using a monitor, or a display that is expecting the full range, then you should be sending that.

If your display supports both, then you are best to use Full RGB. As I mentioned earlier, the PS3 will be rendering internally using 0-255 and then compressing the range to 16-235 for limited. This means that there are only 219 steps of brightness vs 255 so gradations are potentially going to be smoother if you are using full RGB. The "blacks" or colour reproduction should look the same on either setting, the only change is potentially a slightly smoother image.



So how do you find out what your display supports? Well if you're hooked up to a monitor, it's 99% certain that it will be expecting a Full RGB signal.

So how do you know if your TV supports it? TVs generally have a hard cut-off on the 16-235 range, turning anything outside that to pure black / pure white. (eg 15 would be jet black, no matter how high you set brightness)

Make sure your PS3 is set to limited and download this image onto a memory stick, load it up in the PS3 browser etc:

http://sr-388.net/im.../Brightness.jpg

Turn up the brightness control on your display until you can (hopefully) see all four numbers. (1% grey, 2% etc) Assuming you can see all four, adjust brightness to the point where 1 is just about to turn solid black. (if the lowest number you can see is 2, then adjust it until that is almost black)

Now, enable Full RGB. If your screen supports it, you should still be able to read the same numbers. If not, it will turn pure black. However, many TVs that support both won't auto-switch between the two, so you may need to check your TV's menus for a "black level" setting. (may be called something different) If you have that, change it and you should see the numbers pop back up onscreen.


If you can't see the numbers at all when you enable Full RGB and don't have any options that bring them back, you should be using limited. If you can still see them all, you're probably fine using Full RGB.

If you do use Full RGB, check your contrast setting is ok. If it is set too high, you may not be able to see the 99, 98, 97, 96% grey in this image:

http://sr-388.net/im...ns/Contrast.jpg

Note: Just because you may be able to max out contrast and still see all the numbers does not mean that is the correct setting. This can only tell you if it's clipping highlight detail, not if it's too bright.


Ah ok so my brain read that part backwards. Well thanks Audio for clearing that up. When I get home tonight I will do my best to calibrate my TV. It's my parents 50" DLP HDTV 720P. It's a bit old now but it still does very good, but when I look at other peoples LCDs (a few friends have some very expensive ones) I'm blown away by the contrast! Setting it to full looked like it made my TV more comparable but I guess it hurt it the blacks. I will probably be buying my own HDTV (probably LCD and between 36 and 42 inches) much later this year, but I'll want to do a lot of research and get a really good gaming one.

The reason why I choose cool over warm is I like white light more then yellow light (like how I prefer HIDs on a car then Incandescent). But I never knew warm had a more real colors.

So I know to use Limited but what about Super White? On or Off?


I'm not as clued up on super white, but I believe it only effects movies such as Blu Ray/DVD - Not game playing.

And if your HDTV set doesn't support it, I don't think it matters if it's enabled, it won't have any affect at all.

I'll try dig up a better answer, but thats what I believe just now.

For the record, I have it off, as I didn't notice any difference.

Edited by Audioboxer, 28 February 2008 - 16:55.


#9 Ricardo Gil

Ricardo Gil

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:41

I'm using Limited on the PS3 (and intermediate setting on the X360 VGA setting) since it's the best setting for my LCD (a 32" Samsung)

People should just try and see what is best for theirs.

If I use full rgb on the PS3, the contrast gets way up there, but the colors get dark and weird.
Same for the 360: 3rd setting - the colors get too strong; 1st setting - colors are washed up; intermediate setting: oh yeah!.

#10 OP Audioboxer

Audioboxer

    Hermit Arcana

  • Joined: 01-December 03
  • Location: UK, Scotland

Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:43

I'm using Limited on the PS3 (and intermediate setting on the X360 VGA setting) since it's the best setting for my LCD (a 32" Samsung)

People should just try and see what is best for theirs.

If I use full rgb on the PS3, the contrast gets way up there, but the colors get dark and weird.
Same for the 360: 3rd setting - the colors get too strong; 1st setting - colors are washed up; intermediate setting: oh yeah!.


(Y)

I do need to investigate more into the 360 settings.

As their is 3 options, it's not as simple as RGB full or limited.

I'm on standard just now and games look perfect, I may experiment with intermediate, but I won't ever be using expanded.

#11 cloudstrife13

cloudstrife13

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 16:52

Ok now that makes more sense.

I can't wait to get home now and see what I can do.

#12 red.

red.

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 17:01

Nice thread! I'm going to try and calibrate my TV when i get home and check out which RGB settings i've actually used.

#13 DPyro

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  • Location: Ontario,Canada

Posted 28 February 2008 - 17:17

I have two Toshiba LCD Regza HDTVs (32' & 42') and not sure what settings to use.
Although I did a searched and found this:

Preference Mode
Contrast 75-85
Brightness 45-55
Tint - Don't touch
Sharpness 0-25
DNR Off
Colour Temperature - Neutral or Warm

#14 ynnoj

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  • Joined: 18-February 06

Posted 28 February 2008 - 17:53

Calibrating drives me insane.

#15 OP Audioboxer

Audioboxer

    Hermit Arcana

  • Joined: 01-December 03
  • Location: UK, Scotland

Posted 28 February 2008 - 18:04

I have two Toshiba LCD Regza HDTVs (32' & 42') and not sure what settings to use.
Although I did a searched and found this:

Preference Mode
Contrast 75-85
Brightness 45-55
Tint - Don't touch
Sharpness 0-25
DNR Off
Colour Temperature - Neutral or Warm


Yeah seems reasonable (Y)

Brightness should always be around half way/lower. Over bright displays turn black into grey - If your LCD has a backlight as well, that is always best down quite low. Mines is at 3/9. I sometimes go up to 4/5, but no higher.

Sharpness on my TV is best half way, goes up to 30, so I put it at 15.

Definitely Neutral -> Warm2. Cool/Blue is not a good representation of life like colours. I'd go with Warm over neutral.

Just basing this on what my TV is like, every LCD is different, but most will follow the same paths - Eg, lowish backlight/brightness settings, use standard colour space, sharpess around <= 50%, Colour Temp Neutral -> Warm2.