Sony is one of the few companies that sells OLED TVs along with LG, Panasonic, Vizio and now Samsung. But how good are Sony’s OLED screens? Good enough to feature regularly in our lists of Best OLED TVs and the Best 4K TVsalong with the best offers from those other brands.
We’ve previously given suggestions on ways to do this Improving picture quality on Sony TVs. This list covered the basic tweaks you’d find in any Sony range of devices, with tips on choosing the correct image preset (cinema, in most cases), light sensor avoidance and eco modes, noise reduction override, and choosing the correct motion processing option. Most importantly, he warned of the dangers of choosing a vivid picture preset—a general rule that should apply to any TV.
Having just reviewed the new Sony A80K OLED TV Having spent the extra time watching in HD, I wanted to go back and make specific suggestions for tuning Sony OLED TVs to improve picture quality. This list will take a deeper look at some of the unique image tuning options found in the company’s OLEDs. Then, you’ll get an idea of which menu options—some of which are confusingly named—are important, and which ones you can leave on auto.
If you own a Sony OLED TV, you’ll bet you’ve dropped a good chunk of change on it. Here’s how to search and edit your collection’s photo list for best performance.
1. Select the correct video signal settings
Well, first off, what are video signal mods, and why do they get their own submenu on Sony OLED TVs? These settings apply to incoming signals, and make general changes based on whether the signal is in 4K format with high dynamic range or plain old HD.
If you’re using a 4K/HDR source like an external streaming device or Ultra HD Blu-ray player, or just stream 4K/HDR using the apps included in the kit, you can simply leave most of these settings (HDR mode, HDMI video gamut and color space) at automatic mode. This way, the TV will automatically adapt to incoming 4K/HDR sources and regular HD sources and display them correctly. The “advanced color adjustments” in this list are primarily designed for use by professional TV calibrators, and is something most viewers won’t (and probably shouldn’t) need to play with.
2. Make the correct brightness adjustments
Sony collects several important settings in the image brightness submenu. There is, of course, a brightness setting that will adjust the group’s overall screen brightness, but that’s just the start.
One of the main settings in this menu is HDR Tone Mapping. If you’re watching 4K/HDR programs, you’ll definitely want to turn this on as it will improve the contrast range of movies and TV shows with varying overall brightness levels. The Sony A80K model we tested has lower light output than some other OLED TVs, so this setting proved particularly important for transmitting strong highlights in 4K/HDR programming. Two related settings, Gradation Preferred and Brightness Preferred, are available for HDR Tone Mapping, but we didn’t notice much difference between them.
3. Use the black level setting to adjust the black
Although this may seem like a pretty obvious point, most viewers use the TV’s brightness setting to adjust the level where the absolute black is present in the images. But Sony OLED TVs have a separate setting called Black Level (also in the brightness submenu) that should be used instead to make this adjustment. Once we made and applied this finding, shadows on Sony’s OLED looked much deeper, and this gave the overall image a higher level of contrast.
4. Do not overlook peak illumination
The Peak Luminance setting, found here again in the Brightness submenu, has proven to be very important for making 4K/HDR images look their best on a Sony OLED TV, especially with dark films. The results you’ll get will vary depending on the specific show or movie you’re watching, but, similar to setting Black Level, it can affect the overall contrast of the images. We suggest starting with the medium setting and adjusting to taste. And if you’re the type who prefers not to adjust the TV picture settings regularly, you can simply leave it set to Medium.
5. Use Reality Creation – in moderation
Sony TVs seem to have forever included an image mod called Reality Creation (in the Clarity submenu). And while 4K photos really look real without the need for any additional processing, you can use these adjustments to give the photos a slightly more detailed look. (As long as you don’t go overboard, in which case it will end up looking very fragile and unnatural.)
Another important modification in the Clarity submenu is Smooth Gradation. This can help get rid of the “banding” artifacts that sometimes appear in normal high-resolution images, which usually appear as jagged-looking spots in background elements of images such as clear blue skies.