I think that I have found the secret (at least to me) to calibrating a panny 50" if you have the DVE calibration disk, all without going into the service menu. When calibrating in the user menu, do not use the "window" IRE patterns, but instead use the one described as "pluge w/ Gray Scale" for brightness and the "Reverse Gray Ramps & Steps" for contrast.
First, go to the Reverse pattern and turn up the contrast as bright as it can go. Then lower it until you can see the separate segments of the whitest part of the pattern. If two of the segments kind of bleed together, your contrast is too bright. Also, if their is a slight hint of color in the white part of this pattern, your contrast is too bright and probably needs to be lowered a little more. However, I wouldn't worry too much about the hint of color, being that cable channels are not always perfectly adjusted for color. Also, you want to adjust the contrast as high as you can without the "segments" bleeding into each other near the "white" end of the pattern - for the highest contrast for picture quality.
Next, go to the pluge w/ gray scale pattern. This looks like four boxes on top of each other with three lines on both sides of the boxes. The lines farthest away from the boxes are called the "4% below black". You should adjust the brightness for this pattern to where to can barely see the 4% line. My research indicates that this pattern is actually designed to where you are supposed to barely see the 4% line when calibrating.
Go back to the Reverse pattern to double check and adjust the contrast in the white part of that pattern, if necessary, then go back to the pluge pattern to adjust the brightness, if necessary. You can do this for each TV mode (Sports, vivid, movie, etc.) that you have. Repeat these steps until you are satisfied. You are going to be surprised about the results.
I had sold my panny but wanted to make sure that it was properly calibrated for the new owner. During my calibration, I ran across the above procedures on the net and thought that I will try them. Guess what? Great picture. Probably would not have sold the TV had I previously known about these steps. Oh well, a deal's a deal. My loss.
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