LG OLED TV Calibration Guide – AutoCal and Hardware Calibration

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Originally published 1 June 2021, updated last 19 August 2021

Introduction

Over the last couple of months we have been exploring the hardware calibration feature of the LG OLED displays (C1 and CX models particularly) and how to optimise the picture for various uses. To do this we’ve been making use of Portrait Display’s Calman calibration software and the “AutoCal” feature that it provides to directly calibrate the screen at a hardware level. This isn’t the only software available to hardware calibrate these screens, but it’s the mostly widely used and popular. We weren’t intending to write a guide or article about this really, other than maybe providing some results as an update and brief overview in our LG CX OLED review. But the more we tested and experimented, the more we realised how potentially complicated and confusing this topic can be. There is a mass of great information out there on various forums and webpages, but it is scattered around and hard to make sense of sometimes. There’s also a lot of great information on Portrait’s website, but nothing that lays the process out from start to finish.

So we thought we would write this guide which covers everything you might need to know for a typical calibration of the LG OLED TV’s. It’s not meant to be definitive or include every possible option, and we aren’t going to cover things like complicated manual calibration steps or professional-usage setup. This is meant as a guide that will hopefully be useful to your average owner who wants to invest a bit of time and money in hardware calibrating the screen for their normal uses like TV, movies and gaming. Our thanks to Portrait Displays for all their time talking to us about this topic and answering our many questions as we went.

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What You Will Need

  • An LG OLED TV (preferably 2019 models or later) – we have written this guide while using the 2020 CX model but equally this also applies to other 2020 models like the GX for example. It should also apply to the 2019 C9 models, and this year’s new 2021 C1 range. For a full list of LG OLED TV’s that support LG AutoCal and this process see Portrait Display’s list here. Some parts might change a bit but the gist of it should be the same. The 48″ CX48 and C1 models have become particularly popular for use as a monitor given their relatively small size (for a TV) and was introduced last year as the smallest OLED offering in this space. We reviewed the LG CX OLED back in October 2020 specifically looking at its use as a desktop monitor by the way if you want to know more.
  • Calman calibration software – in order to access the TV’s hardware calibration feature you will need Portrait Display’s Calman software package. They have worked hand in hand with LG to optimise this performance and process and their software provides full control over the screen, it’s settings and access to the hardware Look Up Tables (LUT). The software carries out the so-called “AutoCal” process for you on the screen once you’ve set a few things up.

    The most popular choice specifically for calibrating LG TV’s is ‘Calman Home for LG‘ which is available from Portrait Display’s website at a modest price of $145.00 USD for a one year license. If you have one of their more advanced professional software packages such as Calman Ultimate ($2,995) then the same process is available within those packages too, you don’t need both. For most general consumers looking to hardware calibrate their LG OLED TV the Home package is what they need. For the 2020 CX models it needs to be Calman 2020 v5.11.0 or newer but if you’re buying it new you will get the latest 2021 version anyway. If you already have a live license then you should be able to download the latest version of the software from their website for free. The software version is independent of the licence, you can always download and use whatever the latest version is as long as your license is still live.

     
  • A calibration device – to carry out the measurements and calibration of the screen you will need a calibration device. There’s a really wide range of devices available but one of the most popular devices for this is the X-rite i1 Display Pro (or more recent Pro Plus model) which is available in all key regions from Amazon (affiliate link). This can of course be used for calibrating your PC monitor as well but it’s a great device to use with the LG AutoCal process. If you have access to a higher end and more expensive spectroradiometer device then that can also help add some additional accuracy which we will discuss later when it comes to the optional Meter Profiling step. Pretty much all of the mainstream meters are supported as well as many more niche offerings. If in doubt check with Calman.
     
  • A pattern generator (included in the TV for 2019 models and later) – this is the part that displays all the colours and test patterns on the TV for the calibration process. Thankfully for 2019 LG OLED models and later these are built in to the TV so you don’t need to worry, so that includes the 2020 CX models. This supports SDR, HDR and Dolby Vision (DV) calibrations. If you are wanting to calibrate an earlier TV like a 2018 model you will need to purchase an external pattern generator for HDR and DV calibration as unfortunately there are no test patterns built in to the TV. Portrait Displays have some available to buy on their website, we won’t go in to more detail here about those as they aren’t needed for the 2019 models or later (C9, CX, C1 etc)

     
  • A USB stick with some (free) test files on it – You will need to download this free HDR sample video and this free Dolby Vision sample video that are provided by Portrait displays (main page here). You might as well also download the 10 hour SDR video and put it on the same memory stick although if you’re connecting your laptop directly to the screen and running the software from that you won’t need it as it will already be in SDR mode there. The HDR and Dolby Vision videos will be needed to put the TV in to the relevant HDR and DV modes so you can calibrate them. Download them and save them on a USB stick.

    Optional but recommended are the free MediaLight Shadow Detail test videos available here. Fill in the form and you should be able to download those. Put the normal video versions on the same USB stick (you can discard the Mac OS folder) and there should be four videos, for DV, HDR, HDR10 and SDR. There are useful at the end of the calibration for tweaking and improving the shadow detail. We will explain that in the process later. Plug this USB stick in to the TV in to any of the ports and it should show up in your list of inputs on the TV.

     
  • A PC or laptop that is connected to the LG OLED TV you are going to calibrate – this should be preferably with its own screen as you won’t be able to use the LG TV while it’s being calibrated. This also needs to be connected to the same home network as the TV, and the TV needs to be connected either using Wi-Fi or Ethernet to that network.


Connect a Laptop/PC to the Display

You’re going to need to be able to run the Calman software on a laptop or PC that is on the same local network as the TV. You are also going to need to have your calibration device (“meter”) connected to this laptop/PC and nearby to the TV so that it can take the measurements. The easiest method is to connect the laptop/PC to the TV via HDMI and run dual screen in Windows, where you can see the output on both the TV and the laptop. During the calibration itself you will not be able to view the laptop/PC input on the TV itself, so you need a second screen. For our calibration we had a PC connected to the TV but didn’t have a second screen near by, so we just used a free VNC app from an iPad to control and view the software on the PC while AutoCal was running. Make sure you have HDR turned OFF in Windows and are just running in normal SDR mode.

We won’t run through the installation of the software or your calibration device, that should be pretty self-explanatory or you can refer to the Portrait Displays website for more support.



Preparing the Screen for Calibration

Before you carry out the AutoCal process to calibrate your screen there’s a few things you will want to do and check first in the TV menu:

  1. It is recommended to give your TV a decent amount of time to “break in” after you first purchase it. This gives the screen time to stabilise and a total usage of around 100 – 200 hours is recommended before you bother going through the calibration process. You can do it earlier if you want, and then revisit the calibration process again later but it is probably worth waiting before bothering as it can be time consuming to do this.
  2. When you’re ready to calibrate we would suggest a reasonable warm-up period for the TV of 30 minutes or more normal use
  3. Make sure you’ve connected the TV to your Wi-Fi network and it is on the same local network as your PC/laptop where the Calman software will be run from
  4. You will need to make a note of your TV’s IP address which can be found in the network section of the OSD menu
  5. Check that the firmware is up to date on the TV via the update section of the OSD menu
  6. In the Picture menu turn OFF the Energy Saving settings. This avoids the screen altering the luminance during calibration. If you like this ambient light sensor you can turn it back on after the calibration if you want although this has a big impact on HDR and DV brightness. We would recommend leaving this off. From our testing the so-called ‘Auto’ mode (which is supposed to dynamically control the OLED light level) seemed to dim SDR to about 130 nits regardless of the ambient light, both for day time viewing, or night viewing with some lamps on. This in itself is ok for SDR, but for HDR/DV it reduces the max peak brightness the content will reach which is really not good! We measured a peak luminance of around 370 – 400 nits with this Energy saving turned to ‘Auto’. The other settings like low, medium and high are just other preset caps to the OLED light setting. For HDR and DV you want OLED light to always be at 100 if you want the screen to reach the maximum peak luminance it is capable of. So having Energy saving enabled in any more will not allow that. We would leave Energy Saving off for everything and instead focus on calibrating the screen to a comfortable brightness, which we will talk about later. This energy saving setting spans across SDR, HDR and Dolby Vision modes so you only need to disable it once.
  7. Likewise in the ‘general’ section of the OSD menu turn off the ‘AI brightness’ setting which also dynamically controls screen brightness depending on the surrounding light in some modes. You may need to disable this in each SDR, HDR and DV calibration modes when you come to calibrate each depending on the preset you are configuring. For now disable it in all the modes you are calibrating, and we will talk in the relevant section about which modes it might be useful for, and what it does.
  8. Some people like to turn off OLED protection features like the logo dimmer and pixel shift feature while they carry out the calibration, although given the actual test patterns you will display this seems a bit unnecessary to us
  9. Enable the Picture mode that you are going to calibrate
    • SDR should be easy as you should have the Laptop/PC connected already and running in normal SDR mode. For instance if you want to calibrate the ‘Expert (bright)’ mode, select that in the TV menu. You don’t need to be using the actual mode you’re going to calibrate necessarily but it’s easier just to switch to that mode to start with. Also that way you’re in the mode once it’s finished ready to enjoy your newly calibrated state.
    • To get to the necessary Dolby Vision or HDR picture modes there is an additional step needed, explained in the relevant sections later
  10. Set the OLED light setting in the selected Picture mode to your taste for your room and lighting conditions. For SDR calibration there is a step within the software to adjust this later too, so a good starting point is around 70 for the OLED light setting (which should be around 200 nits). For the HDR and DV calibrations you won’t need to do this, as you’d want to leave OLED light set at 100 which is the default.
  11. Not vital but maybe worth doing is to turn off things like Noise reduction, Tru Motion etc and other image processing enhancements. If you need to, you can turn some of these back on after the calibration for the HDMI input you’re using.
     

You’re ready to calibrate the screen now! We have provided step by step guidance using the Calman Home for LG software below which is the most common (and affordable) package applicable here. The steps are very similar with their other packages like Calman Ultimate but you’d need to first load up the ‘display specific – AutoCal LG’ workflow from the main menu on those. Plug in your meter to the laptop/PC then load up the Calman software.

You can do these first few steps to connect the meter, source and display controls later as part of the calibration process, but we personally prefer to do them before we follow the calibration process. Either way is fine, and it’s the same steps to do them during the actual calibration process just at different points.


Connecting and Configuring Your Calibration Device (Meter)

This step connects and sets up the calibration device you are going to use for the process.

When you load up the Calman Home software you should get the welcome screen like the above. The steps to the calibration process are shown down the left hand side, or you can follow each of them through with the ‘next’ button at the bottom right of the page.

Before you do that we need to configure and set up a few key parts using the 3 currently yellow tabs at the top right. This will set up the calibration device/Meter, connect the source test patterns for measurement and give control of the TV to the software. There is also an additional settings section under the gears icon. We will take you through each step, don’t worry.

The first step is to connect your calibration device to the software. If you had this plugged in before opening the software it should be auto-detected.

  1. Open the first of the 3 tabs in the top right hand area for ‘Meter Settings’ as shown
  2. Instead of ‘simulated meter’ (which won’t be usable or do anything here) your calibration tool/meter should be listed in the drop down box at the top of this section, select it here and the tab should turn green to signify it’s connected
     
  1. If it’s not there you can trigger a scan for connected meters by pressing “find meter”. In the window that pops up tick the device you’re searching for if it is listed and press ‘search’. If your device isn’t in the list just press search anyway. After the search the device should appear in the Meter selection drop down box. If that fails to find it, try closing the software, unplugging your device, plugging it back in then loading the software up again. We’ve found the detection of devices very simple so it shouldn’t cause you issues.
  2. Back in the ‘meter settings’ tab you should now be able to select your meter and the tab should turn green. Below we have used an X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus

With the meter selected at the top there are a few other things you need to configure for it. Some of the following settings depend on the actual meter you are using but are likely to be the same, or at least our explanations should hopefully help you choose the right option. These settings are for the X-rite i1 Display Pro which is a commonly used and recommended colorimeter for this process:

  1. Select RAW XYZ for the meter mode (or perhaps try the Light Illusion correction profile if you are feeling advance) – this menu would add a correction profile for the meter based on the screen you are calibrating. It’s not needed for spectro devices like the X-rite i1 Pro or other high-end devices like that, but is there for colorimeters like the commonly used i1 Display Pro. It might seem logical here to select “OLED” as the Meter Mode since we are calibrating an LG OLED TV here – however this is not correct for the LG OLED TV’s. In the 2020 Calman software this option was labelled as simply “OLED” and so was confusing, but now in the 2021 update they’ve helpfully renamed it to “OLED – (RGB)”. That is because this correction profile is designed for OLED panels with an RGB pixel structure. LG OLED TV’s actually have a WRGB pixel structure and so this profile won’t be appropriate. Calman are looking to add a specific profile for WRGB OLED in the future, but for now the recommended standard option to select is Raw XYZ which basically means no correction profile is used.

    If you are an advanced user you could consider trying the Light Illusion correction profile (small additional charge unless you already have one of their software packages) which is been created for WRGB OLED panels and is reported to offer some accuracy improvements over the Raw XYZ option. There are some instructions available on AVSforum for how to get the Light Illusion correction profile and make it available within Calman. We would suggest posting on AVSforum if you need additional help with that as it is not something we’ve personally tested or used.
     
  2. Select Sync Mode as ‘Auto’ – The Auto mode is the recommended option for the greyscale 1D LUT calibration. After that stage you could if you wanted go back to this menu and use the ‘AIO’ option instead for the colour 3D LUT which will speed up the process a bit, but we prefer to stick to the ‘Auto’ mode here for improved accuracy, even at the cost of some additional calibration time.
     
  3. At the bottom tick the box to enable the ‘Low Light Handler’ mode – this is useful to optimise the darkest measurements during the calibration. Recommended settings are 5 seconds for the ‘Low Light Mode’ drop down, and then 1.0 cd/m2 as the ‘Low Light Trigger’. Note that the low light handler mode only works with the ‘Auto’  Sync mode and not with ‘AIO’ mode, another reason to use ‘Auto’ there.
     
  4. We will discuss Meter Profiling in a later section to be added in the future for those who might have access to a higher end spectroradiometer device, which can help improve accuracy of your meter further. There is some guidance for this on Portrait’s website anyway if you have access and want to improve things further.
     
  5. Your meter should now be connected to the software and the tab should turn green and look like the below (if you’re using the i1 Display Pro)

For connection and configuration of other meters and devices you may need to check out Portrait Display’s device resource centre for further information.


Connecting Your Source (Pattern Generator)

This step connects the test patterns that will be shown on the screen and used for the measurements and calibration. You can use external pattern generators for this if you want, but we won’t go in to that here and they will cost extra money. Thankfully the LG 2019 OLED TV’s onwards, including the 2020 CX model and 2021 C1 models, have featured built-in pattern generators, so you can tell the Calman software to access and use those which makes life simpler (and cheaper).

If you are calibrating the HDR or Dolby Vision modes there is an extra step you need to do before connecting the source to get the TV first in to the relevant HDR/DV mode. We will cover that later on in the relevant sections. For now let’s assume we’re calibrating normal SDR mode.

  1. Click the Source Settings tab in the top right hand area
  2. Press the ‘Find source’ button.
  1. In the pop-up that appears you need to select LG as the manufacturer
  2. Select the relevant model for your TV – here we have selected LG – 2020/2021 OLED as we are calibrating an LG CX OLED TV. We should note here that you might see some references online to selecting your TV source as LG 2019 when calibrating the HDR mode, even if your TV is a 2020 model. This relates to an issue with an older 2020 model firmware where it was not generating the right HDR test patterns, but this has been resolved and as long as your TV is running a recent/current firmware you can select the 2020 TV model here without issue for all calibrations (SDR, HDR and DV).
  3. Enter the IP address for the TV that you should have made a note of earlier from the TV network OSD menu and press connect
  4. The screen will pop up a message with a pin code, which you need to enter in to the prompt box on the software
  5. The TV itself should switch in to a grey scale pattern page which means the pattern generator is now active, at which point you will need to use your laptop or other display to continue using and controlling the Calman software. This has activated the internal pattern generator from the TV and you should see the Source tab turn green and have ‘LG’ listed


Connecting the TV DDC Controls

The last step is to connect the software to the TV so that it can automatically control its settings, options and Look Up Tables (LUT) for you during the calibration. This is done using the ‘Direct Display Control’ (DDC) menu in the top right.

  1. Click the ‘Direct Display Control’ tab in the top right
  2. Press ‘find display’
  1. In the pop-up select LG and the relevant TV model. For the LG CX selection the options shown above
  2. Enter your IP address for the TV again (that you got from the network section of the TV OSD menu) and press ‘connect’
  3. If you connected the source first then you should not be asked to enter a pin from the TV, but if that pops up then just enter the pin shown on the TV in the software and continue
  1. The tab should turn green and confirm you are connected to the TV (here it shows as LG 2020 OLED).
  2. In this menu you can select the picture mode you want to calibrate in the ‘Display Mode Selection’ drop down. Only some of the TV preset modes are accessible for hardware calibration but you have a good range you can use. You can also select the mode you’re going to calibrate later on in the software but it doesn’t hurt to do it here first. If the TV isn’t already in that mode it will switch in to it as well so you may see a visual change to the image on the screen.
  3. Leave the other settings at default here
    • For SDR = Active Greyscale points for SDR mode calibration = LG 26 pts SDR 16-255 (the default).
    • For HDR/Dolby Vision = active greyscale points = LG 20 pts HDR (the default)
    • Don’t bother increasing this to more points like 42 for SDR for instance as that is really intended only for use with a professional meter and if you use it with a normal colorimeter like the i1 Display Pro for instance it can lead to less accurate results than 26 pts, and take much longer to complete.
     
  4. You can do a ‘Full DDC reset‘ here if you want, but it might be better to do it at the relevant step during the calibration so that you can measure the pre-calibrated state properly and compare it to your end results. Save this for later, we will explain what it does at that step.


Additional General Settings

You shouldn’t need to change much in the general settings but you can also click the little gear icon in the top right hand corner to access some further settings.

In the “Workflow Basic Options” section we would ensure the following are selected:

  1. Don’t worry about setting the colour space or gamma targets here, you can do that within the actual calibration steps and most of it will be automatically handled for you anyway, just leave them for now.
  2. Luminance levels ensure ‘Video (16 – 235)’ is selected. Note that LG AutoCal is not designed to work for ‘PC (0 – 255)’ mode. You can calibrate in the video mode anyway and if your input device operates with full PC RGB just ensure that’s switched on within the TV menu and your device settings afterwards.
  1. In the ‘Application Measurement options’ section select the DelteE formula as ‘de_ITP’ for the highest level of accuracy. This is the default for Calman 2021 software anyway, previous versions of the software may have used a different default.
  2. Everything else in these sections can be left at default


SDR Calibration

After connecting your meter, source and TV you’re ready to carry out the calibration process itself. All three of those tabs at the top right should be green now (ignore the fact they aren’t in some of our screenshots). Most of the calibration process is automated for you, but we will talk through each step:

  1. On the welcome page select OLED as the screen type and SDR from the second drop down menu, press next
  1. The ‘session setup’ page makes sure you’ve got the meter and source connected properly (which you should have done earlier), and then sets the targets for the calibration. If you haven’t got them connected, using these options here follows the same process basically as we did earlier.
  2. Colour space for SDR calibration = rec.709/sRGB
  3. Gamma formula = Power, then enter the value as 2.2. This is our preferred gamma for daytime and evening usage, but if you want to use the screen in a really dark room at night you could enter 2.4 instead. Some people like to calibrate one mode like ‘Expert (bright)’ for daytime use, and another like ‘Expert (dark)’ for evening use.
  4. Whitepoint = D65 (which is 6500k)
  5. Press next at the bottom to proceed to the following section

Here you will be able to take measurements of the screen before the calibration so you can compare before and after results. If you have done a ‘full DDC’ reset earlier when we were connecting the TV controls, this default performance of any’ SDR mode will be really poor. We get high dE errors for colours (6.4 average) and greyscale (8.6 average) so clearly this is going to need correcting. You might not have done the full DDC reset yet though, so if not it will measure the current settings of the mode you’ve selected.

  1. Press the ‘read series’ button (which looks like a capital H) in the bottom right hand corner to take these pre-calibration measurements. It should take around 5 minutes. Once finished, press next.
  1. You can connect the TV here if you have not done so already – which we did within the DDC tab at the top right
  2. You can also perform the full DDC reset here if you didn’t do that earlier. No need to do it again if you did. This step is necessary as it will reset the picture mode selected that you are going to calibrate to panel native settings, preparing it for the AutoCal process. This is a step beyond just resetting the preset mode in the TV menu which would only restore it to the factory calibrated profile. This Full DDC reset removes that factory profile and starts everything from new for the selected picture mode. Obviously you don’t want to do this for any modes you are keeping, and only do it is you’re going to perform an AutoCal completely. The Native mode has really skewed RGB balance, looks too cool/blue and has large dE errors for greyscale and colours by default. Doing the full DDC reset sets it up ready for the AutoCal process. Don’t change anything in the TV OSD menu once you’ve done this.
     
  3. Check you’ve selected the picture mode you want to calibrate here – we are doing ‘Expert (bright)’ in this example
  4. For SDR calibration leave the HDR box un-ticked
  5. Select BT.709 as the colour space for SDR calibration (this is the same as sRGB gamut by the way)
  6. Press next
  1. On the next screen check the ‘enable calibration’ box. This should pop up a message on the TV at the top right saying ‘calibration start’ to signify that it is connected and being controlled by the software for calibration. Click next at the bottom
  1. In the ‘luminance’ section you can use the slider to change the OLED light setting of the TV and control how bright you want it to be for SDR mode. If you press ‘measure luminance’ the meter will take measurements as you go continuously. This OLED light setting will depend on your ambient light conditions, viewing distance and preferences.
    • If you’re calibrating for daytime brighter viewing then something that reaches around 200 nits after calibration is a common target.
    • For night time viewing maybe around 100 nits instead after calibration. So if you’re calibrating two modes, one for day and one for night you could do something like that.
    • If you only want one mode and don’t really want to have to bother switching between the different presets at different times of the day maybe target 150 nits, we found this a comfortable level for all day usage as long as you have some lamps on when watching at night.
    • As the guidance says here, you want to get the TV set to about 15% brighter than your target in this step to account for the changes the following calibration sections will make. So if you want to reach 200 nits after calibration, use the “OLED light” slider and measurement step here to get the screen to about 230 nits. If you want to reach 100 then aim for 115 here. If you want to reach 150 aim for around 172.5.
    • You will have chance to re-tweak this after the calibration anyway, but get it close to what your target is as it’s recommended to get as near as possible first
       
  2. It’s not recommended to change the OLED light setting in the TV OSD menu later on after calibration as it could impact other aspects of the setup (gamma, colour temp, colours) a little. Although minor changes to the OLED light aren’t going to make a huge difference so you don’t need to worry about that too much. If you need to tweak the OLED light later on in real use that’s not a huge issue. If you plan to enable the ‘auto’ energy saving feature (ok for SDR but really not good for HDR/DV) then you also don’t need to worry about this step much, as that feature would help control the OLED light setting using the ambient light sensor and could be useful for varying room lighting conditions. For optimal accuracy it’s not recommended to use that energy saving feature as it alters the OLED light, but it is never going to make major changes so won’t impact things that much. Through our testing the validated results were still very good even with auto energy saving enabled later.
  3. We left this at 70 for now. Click next to proceed
  1. This is where the real calibration starts! On this greyscale multipoint screen you need to press the ‘AutoCal’ button in the bottom right corner (the circular arrow icon next to “123”).
  1. A pop up will appear asking you to confirm number of greyscale points you want to calibrate, leave it as 26 and press continue
  2. This process calibrates the 1D LUT and corrects the colour temperature, white point and gamma of the display automatically for you, making adjustments to the screen’s hardware LUT. It takes around 28 minutes with an X-rite i1 Display Pro
  3. At the end the results should look a bit like the above. Note the EOTF (gamma) curve for the monitor is not even visible behind the yellow reference line. The RGB balance line is now flat at the 0 level and there are very low dE for the greyscales too, almost impossible to see on the graphs.
  4. Once this has finished, press next
  1. The next step does the colour mapping and corrections to the 3D LUT, ensuring the gamut you’ve defined is achieved and colour accuracy is improved.
  1. Press the ‘AutoCal’ button in the bottom right hand corner. Press the ‘optimize’ button which runs a few sample tests and determines the optimal pattern delay speed for this process, and can help account for varying meter specs. Elsewhere in this pop-up select the calibration type as ‘Fixed Grid, 9 points’. This is quite time consuming but should provide a high level of accuracy. Selecting more points adds to the time and won’t provide any major improvements so is unnecessary. If you’re wanting a quicker calibration then the Lighting LUT option can be used and produces pretty decent results still.
  2. This process takes a lot longer, around 40 – 50 minutes with the X-rite i1 Display Pro

26. The brightness and contrast adjustment steps of the ‘dynamic range’ page are not needed for LG AutoCal, they will likely be removed in a future update to the software.

After the calibration you can also click the “100” patch at the bottom of the screen and press the play button on the right. That will measure a single white patch and on the screen it will confirm your peak luminance. You have the option here to tweak the OLED light control using the slider to get back to your target of 200 nits or whatever you’d targeted earlier.
 

Separate Shadow Detail Corrections Before You Finish AutoCal

The AutoCal calibration has ended, but do NOT un-tick the ‘enable calibration’ box yet (this would disconnect the calibration session). We want to make some shadow detail corrections before we finish. This will make corrections to the very darkest shades to ensure you can see all the relevant detail in dark scenes. This step is necessary because each OLED panel sample varies somewhat and in the very darkest tones it’s hard for AutoCal to do this for you.

  1. First we need to disconnect the screen’s pattern generator ‘ source’ for a moment to perform these checks. Press the source tab at the top right and press ‘disconnect’. The TV should end the patterns being shown and return to your normal mode – probably the laptop screen you had connected. Do not disconnect the DDC controls though or anything else.
  2. You should have your USB stick already plugged in to the TV with the Media Light shadow detail files on them. If not, go back to that step, download them and put them on a stick and plug that in to the TV.
  3. Change the input source on your TV to select the USB stick that’s plugged in
  4. Navigate to the Media Light shadow detail folder and select the SDR video file and play it. Put it on repeat if you need to, or we also find pausing it on the ‘flashed’ image easy enough
  5. You will need a dark room for these final corrections ideally
  1. Get close up to the TV and you will see small flashing boxes for different dark shades on the screen like in the above screenshot in a greyscale, the idea here is to have box 64 as black, and everything below that should also be black (everything < 64). But you should be able to distinguish each box above that from 65 onwards. You may find that quite a few of these shades above 64 are currently black as well, which is why you need to do this shadow detail correction
  2. While watching this test pattern video press the little screen icon in the top right hand corner of the Calman software that says ‘DDC’
  1. This should pop up the DDC control menu, it should be on the ‘RGB adjust’ page as shown above, you need to use the scroll arrows to move to the ‘display controls’ menu page.
  1. You should see some of your settings in this page from earlier on (ignore the screenshot here). Scroll down to the bottom to the ‘OLED shadow detail’ sliders
  2. For SDR leave ‘OLED shadow detail point’ set at 23 (note: this will be different for HDR and DV calibrations, explained later)
  3. The setting to adjust is the ‘OLED shadow detail value’. While observing the test patterns on the screen move the slider up a fair amount (200 or so to start with) and press the ‘commit = on/off’ button to activate the change. This should update the appearance of the grey shades on your screen. Having made a fairly big change on the slider here, you will hopefully see a fairly noticeable change on the shades. You need to then move it up or down, pressing ‘commit’ each time, until you’ve honed in on the right level for your panel. You can change this as many times as you want, so just experiment.
    • You want box 64 to be black and not show any “flashing” while the video plays
    • Everything lower than 64 should also be black/invisible
    • Everything above 64 should be progressively brighter grey shades, with 65 being the first distinguishable shade you can see flashing. You will find you can only make this just visible in the flashing without impacting box 64 and below and it will be very subtle. You will need to be in a dark room and up very close to the screen to pick it out.
    • Use the ‘OLED shadow detail value’ slider to get to the right level for your panel
       
  4. Once you’re happy with the shadow detail correction, close the DDC menu and return to the main software
  1. You should be back on this page, you can now un-check the ‘enable calibration’ box to end the connection to the screen. Note, do not ever go back in to try and tweak these shadow details separately outside of the full calibration process as it will reset your 1D LUT greyscale calibration as soon as you try!
  2. If you want to complete the final validation reports then you need to re-connect the source again that we disconnected to do the shadow detail videos. Go in to the source menu, select ‘find source’, choose your display and once connected it should return back to the grey/white test pattern screen. Click next
  1. Now you’re on the ‘post-cal verify’ page. Press the ‘run series’ button in the bottom right (the one that looks like the capital H). This will re-check the results and you should get low delta E errors now and flat RGB balance graph. Once finished, press next.
  1. The final ‘side by side’ page compares the pre-calibrated state against the calibrated results for a nice quick verification of your results.
     
  2. For those interested we also re-validated the screen using our UPRtek MK550T spectroradiometer as the meter to confirm that the white point (D65) had been met properly, and that the greyscale and colour performance was accurate. i.e. we made sure that our spectro device agreed with the results the X-rite i1 Display Pro was reporting above. They did, since we had profiled our meter against this spectro first, so they agreed nicely with one another. We will talk about Meter Profiling in a future update. Without it you may find some varied results in visual performance when using a non-profiled colorimeter on a screen like this. Some people report some slight colour tints on white content. For optimal accuracy you will ideally want to profile your meter against a spectro reference device if you can.

Final SDR calibration notes

That should be everything, you’ve calibrated in SDR for one of the preset modes. Here we did it for the ‘Expert (bright)’ mode. You may want to go in to each of your HDMI connections (TV, PC, built-in apps or whatever you’ve got connected to the screen) and make sure that this Expert (bright) mode is selected for each of them.

You can turn back on any video features you might want like the motion features, increase the sharpness control or whatever you like which are independent for each input selection. So again make sure you’ve set those up for each input as you like them. Do not change the settings for brightness, contrast or anything to do with colour as this would disrupt your calibration you’ve just spent all that time doing. While it’s best to leave OLED light at the setting you selected during calibration you can change it a bit without impacting anything much as that just controls the brightness of the pixels/screen. If you find you need to tweak this afterwards that’s ok. Again check this is set to the desired level for each input.

You can make the other changes above for each HDMI input individually to your liking but the calibrated state applies for that preset mode where it’s selected for all the inputs, so you only need to do it once. The calibration is at a preset mode level, not specific to any input source. The built-in apps like Netflix and Disney+ for instance also operate from a single profile, so again check that Expert (bright) is selected for them, and you’ve got the other settings how you like.

Calibrating SDR Game mode

You might also want to complete the same process but for the Game mode in SDR. That is the mode you’d want to use for games consoles, and probably also for PC gaming as it reduces the input lag quite significantly. You will also find that as long as you’ve got the normal settings turned on, the screen jumps in to this Game preset mode when it detects a console connected via the “ALLM” (Auto Low Latency Mode) feature. It’s easy to calibrate in the Game mode if you’re connecting a laptop or PC to the screen to run the Calman software. That is sufficient as an input to allow you to switch the screen in to Game mode from the OSD, and then you just select Game SDR mode within the software during the calibration process. We like to calibrate the ‘Expert (bright)’ mode which is used for TV, Netflix etc, and then the Game mode as well for console inputs like the Xbox Series X or PS5. We will talk about HDR and Dolby Vision Game mode calibration later on.


An SDR Mode with wide gamut?

One final note is that maybe you also want a mode with a wide gamut enabled but for SDR content. Perhaps you like the more vivid and colourful look for certain content like anime or cartoons, accepting that this won’t be “accurate” to the defined SDR colour space but might be desirable. If you want you can calibrate a different preset mode (we used ‘SDR Cinema’) but this time select the target colour space as Rec.2020 instead of BT.709, of DCI-P3 if you want to have it a little less wide. That will use the panels full native gamut. Follow the other calibration steps and settings as above. At the end of it you should then have one mode ‘Expert (bright)’ configured for normal SDR content with a standard sRGB/BT.709 gamut, and another for SDR with a wide gamut.

HDR Calibration

We will now talk through the process for calibrating the HDR mode which will be used for a lot of content including HDR movies, games and content from your PC (if connected) and some other HDR TV sources. There is a separate mode for Dolby Vision (DV) content that we will go through after. We like to calibrate two of the HDR modes on the LG OLED TV’s. We use HDR Cinema for movies, videos and general HDR content. That’s the mode we have active when watching HDR PC content, or other general HDR 10 or HLG input sources. Then we calibrate a second mode HDR Game which we set as active for PC gaming, or as the default for consoles connected when they enter HDR mode (PS5, Xbox Series X etc). The HDR Game mode carries the low input lag mode so is optimal for gaming.


Getting the TV ready

  1. Let’s start with getting the TV in to HDR mode first. You have two choices here as you need to trigger first of all the screen to enter HDR mode by displaying some kind of HDR input signal
    • The normal option is to use Portrait Display’s free 1 hour HDR sample video. Download it and put this on a USB stick and connect that stick directly in to the TV via one of the USB ports on the back or side. Using the TV remote, navigate to the USB folder input where you can then play that file directly. It will put your TV in to HDR mode. One limitation of this method is because the TV detects the file as a media movie, you cannot use or enter or calibrate the ‘HDR Game’ mode when using this method. If you’re using this method then you need to leave the HDR video playing, and then control the Calman software on the laptop screen, as the TV will now be playing that video in HDR mode instead of showing the Calman software.
    • The other option seems to be to just enable HDR in Windows from your connected laptop/PC. You should see the HDR logo flash up in the top right hand corner of the screen to signal you are in HDR mode, the image will probably look brighter and noticeably different. This is also the best way to give you access to all the HDR modes including the HDR Game mode (with low input lag), which you might well want to calibrate for connected HDR-ready consoles.
  2. Use your TV remote to enter the desired HDR picture mode you want to calibrate – here in our example we are calibrating the HDR Cinema mode having triggered HDR source via the 1 hour video on a USB stick. Before we get going with the Calman software, In the TV menu:
    • Leave OLED Light at 100 (we don’t want to change this for HDR or DV modes at all as it would then limit peak brightness)
    • Leave the brightness and contrast at default. These will be reset during the calibration anyway, but don’t change them after or anything
    • Make sure Energy Saving Mode is turned OFF – while this is perhaps ok to use in SDR mode, it will massively restrict your peak brightness for HDR and DV modes (down to around 400 nits) so we would definitely leave it off all the time.
    • In the ‘Advanced Controls’ menu turn OFF ‘Dynamic Tone Mapping’ for now – you can re-enable this after calibration if you want as it can help boost darker scenes, although that will then impact the precision of the calibration somewhat. For the actual calibration process we want to turn it off
    • In the ‘General’ section of the menu make sure AI Picture Mode and AI Brightness are turned OFF
    • Your TV should now be ready for calibration in the selected HDR picture mode

Calman Software steps

  1. Load up the Calman software (leaving the video playing on the TV if you’ve used that method above) and follow the workflow steps. On the welcome page select OLED and HDR from the drop down menus.
  1. On the sessions setup page start by connecting your meter. Pressing ‘find meter’ will load up the menu to choose and configure your meter, and will be the same steps as we outlined earlier in this article.
  2. Next, click ‘find source’ to connect the LG TV, again as explained earlier in the article. This will begin the test pattern on the screen, but importantly it should still be in HDR mode. You can check this by opening up the TV menu and checking you’re still in the target HDR picture mode. HDR Cinema in our case.
  3. You do not need to connect your TV to the software yet using the ‘DDC’ menu at the top right, that’s probably better to do in a moment on the relevant step. Leave that disconnected for now
  4. In the session setup you should now have your meter and source connected, so you just need to make sure the software is configured to use following targets for HDR calibration. These should be automatically set based on selecting “HDR” earlier, so you probably won’t need to change them:
    • Colour space = Rec.2020 – this will try and cover as much of this wide gamut colour space as possible
    • Gamma formula = ST 2084 HDR (PQ) – this is the gamma curve for HDR content, note that it is different to the 2.2 power we used for SDR
    • Whitepoint = D65 (6500k)
  1. Click the ‘source’ tab and make sure that the colour space is set to ‘HDR 2020’ in the drop down here.

    Click ‘next’ to move to the following page
  1. On the ‘pre-cal measure’ page you can take measurements of the screen before calibration if you want by pressing the ‘H’ icon in the bottom right to ‘read series’. This will take a few minutes but measures the current state of the screen.

A note about possible pre-calibration capture errors and oddities

Note that if you find you have wildly inaccurate results and the luminance curve looks more like a normal curve than the yellow reference one shown here, it might be that the software is getting confused between gamma modes in HDR. Basically for HDR calibration the pre-calibration and post-calibration capture should measure in ST 2084 PQ gamma which is intended for HDR content, but during the actual calibration steps itself the PQ processing is turned off and it calibrates to 2.2 gamma greyscale instead. Sometimes we found that the software got confused between which mode it was operating in and this can lead to very odd results in the pre- and post-calibration capture.

If you find that happens, make sure that the TV connection DDC section is not connected in the top right hand corner. If it is already disconnected (we found this still caused the same problem sometimes), we would recommend connecting it so that the tab turns green like in the screenshot above.

Then press the ‘DDC’ little screen icon to the right, navigate through the menus to the right until you get to the one shown above. Make sure ‘enable calibration’ is un-checked. If it already is, then tick it, then un-tick it after. This should move the screen out of the calibration mode (where it’s trying to use 2.2 gamma) and put it back in to PQ gamma mode so you can do the pre-calibration capture properly.

Anyway, we digress, back to the process steps….


  1. After the pre-calibration capture, progress to the next page.
  2. On the ‘Display Connect’ page you might already have the TV DDC connected from before. If not, click ‘find LG TV’ and connect that as per the steps explained earlier int he article for connecting the TV. Beneath that, make sure you select the correct preset mode you want to calibrate (here we are using HDR Cinema) then press “Full DDC reset” to restore that mode to the native panel state.
  3. Make sure HDR box is ticked and colour space is set to BT.2020 (note this is the same as Rec.2020). Click next to progress
  1. On the ‘Cal Start’ page tick the “enable calibration” box which will start the session and connect the screen to be calibrated fully

  1. Before you start doing more on the next screen, just have a quick check that the HDR video playing still has plenty of time left on it. Although your TV will show a test pattern (or probably a black image at this point), if you use the TV remote to scroll up, you should see the video controls / progress bar. It’s a 1 hour video which should last you for the full process, but if need be just move the cursor back to the start of the hour again. If you let it run to the end, the screen will exit HDR mode and then also go in to screensaver mode which will mess up your calibration potentially mid-way through. We like to start the 1 hour clock again before we do these next steps.
  2. On the ‘Greyscale Multipoint’ page click the ‘autocal’ button in the bottom right hand corner to begin the calibration process.
  1. A pop up will appear after a few seconds, select ‘LG 20 points HDR’ from the drop down. Don’t bother with any further points, it will just slow down the calibration and won’t bring any additional benefits of note. This Autocal process will then run automatically for you. It takes around 35 – 40 minutes to complete typically with an X-rite i1 Display Pro meter
  2. The end results will hopefully look like our example above with nice gamma and luminance curves, low greyscale dE and flat RGB balance.
  1. On the next ‘Colorspace’ screen click ‘Autocal’ in the bottom right hand corner. This will carry out a Matrix LUT calibration which is the only method for 3D LUT calibration in HDR mode. In the pop up that opens, leave everything as it is although make sure ‘Matrix_LUT’ is selected in the drop down at the bottom. This colour space calibration is also automated for you and takes only around 1 – 2 minutes to complete. Nice and quick!
  1. Proceed to the next ‘Tone Curve’ page. This feature is used to modify the way the TV’s internal processing handles HDR content that exceeds the panels peak luminance. This is referred to as a Roll-Off point. HDR content is mastered with specific peak luminances in mind, which determine how bright the brightest highlights in the content are displayed. These are most commonly 1,000, 4,000, and 10,000 nits. Since the mastered peak luminance may exceed the maximum luminance of the display panel (around 700nits typically for OLED panels) this features allows you to modify how content that exceeds your specific maximum luminance is handled.
  • Start by pressing the ‘Measure peak lum’ button to measure the peak luminance of the display
  • Change the top blue slider for ‘luminance’ to match this peak brightness you just measured
  • You can leave everything else at default unless you are doing anything advanced
  • Press the ‘Tonemap upload’ button at the bottom. The software will flash a couple of times and the tonemap will have been uploaded to the TV

Separate Shadow Detail Corrections Before You Finish AutoCal

Like in the SDR calibration the AutoCal calibration has ended, but do NOT un-tick the ‘enable calibration’ box yet (this would disconnect the calibration session). We want to make some shadow detail corrections before we finish. This will make corrections to the very darkest shades to ensure you can see all the relevant detail in dark scenes. This step is necessary because each OLED panel sample varies somewhat and in the very darkest tones it’s hard for AutoCal to do this for you.

  1. First we need to disconnect the screen’s pattern generator ‘ source’ for a moment to perform these checks. Press the source tab at the top right and press ‘disconnect’. The TV should end the patterns being shown and return to your normal mode – probably the HDR video screen you had running before. Do not disconnect the DDC controls though or anything else.
  2. You should have your USB stick with the Media Light shadow detail files on them. If not, go back to that step, download them and put them on a stick.
    • If you’ve triggered HDR mode just by enabling HDR in Windows then you can plug that USB stick in to the same laptop/PC and play the files from a media player that supports HDR content.
    • Sometimes it is easier to just play them from the TV’s built in player app by plugging the USB stick directly in to the TV though. If you were already playing the HDR 1 hour video to get to this stage, just exit that video and find the Media Light files on the same USB stick instead.
  3. Navigate to the Media Light shadow detail folder and select the HDR10 shadow detail video file and play it. This will look the same as the SDR shadow detail video we used earlier for SDR calibration.
  4. Put it on repeat if you need to, or we also find pausing it on the ‘flashed’ image easy enough
  5. You will need a dark room for these final corrections ideally
  1. Get close up to the TV and you will see small flashing boxes for different dark shades on the screen like in the above screenshot in a greyscale, the idea here is to have box 64 as black, and everything below that should also be black (everything < 64). But you should be able to distinguish each box above that from 65 onwards. You may find that quite a few of these shades above 64 are currently black as well, which is why you need to do this shadow detail correction
  2. While watching this test pattern video press the little screen icon in the top right hand corner of the Calman software that says ‘DDC’
  1. This should pop up the DDC control menu, it should be on the ‘RGB adjust’ page as shown above, you need to use the scroll arrows to move to the ‘display controls’ menu page.
  1. You should see some of your settings in this page from earlier on (ignore the screenshot here). Scroll down to the bottom to the ‘OLED shadow detail’ sliders
  2. For HDR leave ‘OLED shadow detail point’ set at 14 (note: this will be different for SDR calibrations, explained earlier in that section which had 23 as the setting)
  3. The setting to adjust is the ‘OLED shadow detail value’. While observing the test patterns on the screen move the slider up a fair amount (200 or so to start with) and press the ‘commit = on/off’ button to activate the change. This should update the appearance of the grey shades on your screen. Having made a fairly big change on the slider here, you will hopefully see a fairly noticeable change on the shades. You need to then move it up or down, pressing ‘commit’ each time, until you’ve honed in on the right level for your panel. You can change this as many times as you want, so just experiment.
    • You want box 64 to be black and not show any “flashing” while the video plays
    • Everything lower than 64 should also be black/invisible
    • Everything above 64 should be progressively brighter grey shades in a scale ideally, with 65 being the first distinguishable shade you can see flashing.
    • Use the ‘OLED shadow detail value’ slider to get to the right level for your panel
       
  4. Once you’re happy with the shadow detail correction, close the DDC menu and return to the main software

  1. You should be back on the ‘Cal end’ page, you can now un-check the ‘enable calibration’ box to end the connection to the screen. Note, do not ever go back in to try and tweak these shadow details separately outside of the full calibration process as it will reset your 1D LUT greyscale calibration as soon as you try! If you want to complete the final validation reports then you need to re-connect the source again that we disconnected to do the shadow detail videos.
  2. If you want to complete the final validation reports then you need to re-connect the source again that we disconnected to do the shadow detail videos. Go in to the source menu, select ‘find source’, choose your display and once connected it should return back to the grey/white test pattern screen. Click next
  1. Now you’re on the ‘post-cal verify’ page. Press the ‘run series’ button in the bottom right (the one that looks like the capital H). This will re-check the results and you should get low delta E errors now and flat RGB balance graph. Once finished, press next.
  1. The final ‘side by side’ page compares the pre-calibrated state against the calibrated results for a nice quick verification of your results.

Final steps (optional)

Once that’s all completed you may want to play some HDR content from your PC, or from the TV’s YouTube app or something and just check hat your calibrated mode (HDR Cinema in our case) is active. You can also experiment with turning ‘dynamic tone mapping’ back on if you want within the advanced controls menu. This will boost the brightness a bit and while it might not then be as “accurate” from your calibration, some people prefer to have it turned back on. This dynamic tone mapping is only available for HDR modes. Try turning it on and off while playing some HDR content and see which you prefer. Don’t change anything else in the TV menu though.

Calibrating HDR Game mode

You might also want to complete the same process but for the Game mode in HDR. That is the mode you’d want to use for games consoles, and probably also for PC gaming as it reduces the input lag quite significantly. You will also find that as long as you’ve got the normal settings turned on, the screen jumps in to this Game preset mode when it detects a console connected via the “ALLM” (Auto Low Latency Mode) feature.

You cannot use the Calman HDR sample video for this though, as when you run that video to trigger HDR mode it does not give you access to the Game mode unfortunately. The screen sees it as a media/video file and doesn’t offer you the option to switch in to HDR Game mode (only modes like HDR Cinema). Thankfully it’s easy to calibrate in the HDR Game mode if you’re connecting a laptop or PC to the screen to run the Calman software. Just enable HDR in Windows, the TV will switch in to HDR mode and that is sufficient as an input source to allow you to switch the screen in to HDR Game mode from the OSD. Then you just select Game HDR mode within the software during the calibration process. We like to calibrate the ‘HDR Cinema’ mode which is used for TV, Netflix etc, and then the HDR Game mode as well for console inputs like the Xbox Series X or PS5. We will talk about Dolby Vision Game mode calibration later on.


Coming Soon to be added to this article

  1. Dolby Vision Calibration
  2. Meter Profiling guide and testing

Further Reading

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