ISFccc vs. Pure Mode on Pioneer 9G plasma panels


With the advent of the ISFccc (Imaging Science Foundation Certified Calibration Configuration) menu found on a select few high-end video displays, calibration technicians no longer have to sift through a plethora of sub-menus and parameters in search of specific picture controls. Instead, all that is needed to fine-tune a display are conveniently stored in one or two locations. The ISFccc menu also affords more flexibility and finer adjustments, which is beneficial for certain video systems.

The client also benefits, as they would be left with an ISF Day viewing mode, which is intended for a brightened environment, and an ISF Night mode for when it is darkened. This is more intuitive over, “Dynamic” for daytime and “Movie” for nighttime. Plus, the Day/Night modes cannot be altered by the end-user, thus ensuring that the calibration remains intact even during a power failure, or if the reset button is pressed.

Some displays offering the ISFccc option also include an advanced user-menu that affords significant control as well; perhaps enough to negate the need to utilize the ISFccc menu. Such is the case with Pioneer’s Elite 8th & 9th generation plasma panels (PRO-110/150FD and PRO-101/111/141/151FD).

The goal of this article is to establish which calibration method is best. Does one really need to have their Pioneer 8 or 9G panel calibrated within the ISFccc menu to attain the best picture, or will doing so within the advanced menu suffice?


After approximately 325 hours of break-in/usage, the display was calibrated in a completely dark room. Patterns were supplied via the AccuPel HDG-4000 test pattern generator outputting via DVI/HDMI @ 1080p/60 & 1080p/24 as well as from the Digital Video Essentials HD Basics Blu-ray DVD. Measurements were taken from a Photo Research PR-655 Spectroradiometer at a straight angle and a distance of 7 feet from the center of the screen. The ISF modes were accessed using ControlCal.

The first graph represents window-box patterns from 10-100% amplitude in 10-step increments. These were performed after the display was calibrated within the ISF Day, ISF Night, Pure, as well as Movie modes (the latter relegated to a 5400k .335/.343 setting that many of our clients prefer for black & white material).

The second graph represents readings using full-field raster patterns at 25, 50, 75, and 100% amplitude. This was done mainly to show the difference in peak light output between window and raster patterns. Finally, we also took window-box readings of red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow to see if any shifts beyond our initial break-in report occurred.

Calibrated window-box grayscale readings within ISF Day, ISF Night, Pure, and Movie modes

Calibrated raster-pattern grayscale readings within ISF Day, ISF Night, Pure, and Movie modes

Calibrated primary/secondary color readings within ISF Day, ISF Night, Pure, and Movie modes


The Pure mode calibrated with the same accuracy as the ISF modes in terms of its grayscale linearity. Color readings were essentially identical as well. As a side note, it appears that color space has become slightly more accurate over time despite making no adjustments to the Color Management system, which we feel often does more bad than good on these particular displays. The latest readings take us a step closer to SMPTE HD coordinates.

ISFccc – Pros/Cons

In addition to the flexibility mentioned at the start of this article, the ISF modes offer more overall light output – particularly the Day mode which afforded an impressive 55.97 fl @ 100% amplitude on a window-box pattern with Energy Save off. While most people would never require (or want) that kind of overall brightness in a critical viewing environment, it can be beneficial in a brightly lit room. Used sparingly for daytime sporting events, this extra light output can be a large plus for people.

The only cons we can think of are that driving the display harder will be less energy efficient. This will technically increase the chances of burn-in and perhaps even shorten its life. But again, used occasionally, it shouldn’t be a big concern. Someone entering the ISFccc mode must also be very careful since one wrong click can have serious consequences to picture quality. Also remember, the procedure is more time-consuming and technically challenging so caution is advised.

Pure Mode – Pros/Cons

The biggest benefit regarding the Pure Mode calibration approach is that a quantifiably accurate picture can be achieved without the added complexity or risk associated by entering the ISFccc menu. As such, any end-user can begin tweaking their display immediately after the break-in period. For those located in areas not serviced by a reputable calibration technician (or remote locations that do not get as frequently visited), this method affords the next-best-thing as a solution until a more precise adjustment can be performed. Some technicians (including Avical) also add to this incentive by charging less for this procedure.

There are several limitations with the Pure Mode calibration approach that depending on one’s system may or may not be important. First, we must address light output. If an overly bright image were required to compete with a bright environment, one would be better served with an ISF Day mode. The second limitation is that Pure mode settings carry through all inputs. For basic systems that may only consist of two sources (i.e., DVD, STB), this may suffice. However, for those with many sources going into multiple inputs, the ISFccc has the added flexibility of having independent settings per input.


The Pioneer 9G plasma panels are truly outstanding in almost every respect and represent the crème de la crème of what is currently available to the consumer in flat-panel technology of this size. The inclusion of a highly sophisticated user-menu as well as an even more flexible ISFccc menu is enough to make any videophile salivate. The best method depends greatly on one’s system, viewing style, and environment.

To summarize, a Pure mode calibration may suffice for one person and not another. Conversely, an ISFccc calibration needed for a particular set-up may be overkill for someone else. For this reason, we suggest that you consult with your Avical video calibration technician to determine which method is best for your particular system and personal needs.

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