I remember I've tested it running the whole spectrum a couple of times to compare but yea, I guess it's subjective.
For anyone who's interested I'll write a big post one of these days laying out what I found out by searching for a solution for this through the service menu and the normal settings. There are some workarounds.
Allright, I’ve spent, unfortunately, many many hours trying to find a proper workaround to this absurd problem, on which Samsung’s response was and is laughable, and learned a lot of stuff I didn’t care to learn and came to several conclusions. Mind you, I’m not an expert that gives certain knowledge, I just share what I understood, which of course is to be taken as that. I also don’t advise you to go in the Service Menu and start strolling as I did, as you may damage the TV.
First off I have a Q7FN (bought in Europe in November). I did read and see a lot of reviews before buying and while many of them talked about the poor Local Dimming in the sense of it not giving you much, none actually touched the issue of the interaction of it with the subtitles, in the sense of ruining much (hurray for a job not well done, reviewers). In any case, this issue is not related to the quality of the LD, as it happens in the QLED FALD models as well. It has to do with the way it works. Local dimming dims the dark part of the screens in order for the bright parts (faces, snow etc.) to light-up and “pop”. The algorithm locates what is deemed brighter (something passing a certain threshold) and dims the rest. This works normally until a subtitle kicks in, passing that threshold and thus “stealing” the rest of the screen from any brighter parts. This results to a dimmer rest of the screen when the subtitle is on and a return in normal when off. And that’s exactly where the problem is, not in the brightness of the subtitles per se, but in the constant alternation of dimmed areas around normal highlights (e.g. faces) and the subtitle. And that’s why you see the problem in FALD models as well.
That covers the theory.
Q7FN in particular has 6 vertical zones of local dimming. Those light up the screen in concurrence with the, let’s call it, Basic Backlight. This is why when you turn off LD in the service menu, you lose so much Backlight, as you’re stuck only with this basic one. This made me think that Samsung was stupid enough to hardwire those two, thus removing any ability to just switch off the local dimming. However, there is an option in the service menu for PC mode Local Dimming Support, which if turned to Off, let’s you keep control of the Backlight, without any Local Dimming. After some testing I realized the PC mode’s local dimming works differently from the TV’s normal use, so maybe that’s the reason for being able to switch it Off in PC mode without any problems.
Anyway, I searched high and low in the service menu for something to fix the problem with regards to gaming, pc use, netflix etc. and normal use, with a focus on solving it in PS4 Pro and PC as in Netflix you can decrease the effect by messing with the subs setting and who’s watching normal TV anyway.
Funnily enough, I found a decent solution for more casual users at the end of my search in the normal settings. As it turns out, LD is most aggressive in the Standard and Game mode, less aggressive in Dynamic and Natural mode when set in Low, and the least aggressive in Movie mode when set in Low. So there you have it, at least in (my) Q7FN model, if you want to put LD in the least obtrusive mode, you can choose Movie mode and set it to Low. You can then change the Movie mode settings if you are not a fan of Warm2 etc. The overall Backlight brightness is less from the ridiculously high one in Standard mode (probably because the LD works differently in that mode), but you have full control of the Backlight and a pretty high luminance.
The solution above is perfectly solid for SDR normal content either on normal TV or Netflix etc. However it doesn’t too much for gaming and PC use, as Movie mode has considerably higher latency from game or PC mode and unfortunately turning off the noise reduction and motion smoothing settings manually does not solve that. So I switched off the PC mode LD support from the service menu mentioned above, which solves the LD problem but leaves you, at least for my taste, with a bit lifeless picture, especially in HDR. I looked through many options in the service menu to “fix” the picture to my liking. I came up with what I deem a good solution, but that’s very deep in the menu and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s tv for a peculiarity of mine. If anyone does consider it an issue however, let me know and I can post instructions.
Tha last issue, for me at least, was “replacing” the lost Local Dimming. Although its positive effects are mostly unnoticeable, if you’re particular (I am) you can see when it “adds” to the picture. In SDR the simplest way to achieve a similar effect is by turning the Backlight up a notch, in relation with what you’d have with LD turned on. Of course this isn’t identical (as obviously nothing dims) but I’m talking about achieving the same luminance effect. In HDR it’s trickier, as you’re already in maximum Backlight, and I found an alternative through the service menu (which is pretty much the same as the one I mentioned above).
Hence yea, by doing all the above, I’ve brought my set to a desirable state.
I really can’t understand why Samsung does not make this simple, since the tech for it is apparently there (see Movie mode-Low) option. The argument that the reviewers will give it a lower score with regards to contrast doesn’t stand, since the option is actually already there in movie mode and more importantly, the bad publicity from this issue (e.g. youtube videos with the issue have a lots of views) is much worse from just adding a setting.
In addition, I do believe, and what I wrote I think supports this, that they can actually alter the algorithm to avoid the subtitles which of course would be the best solution. My guess is that Samsung doesn’t do it and gives us the finger in order to make people buy the new models, which of course is despicable, although not as much as their whole response (totally ignoring the issue in 25 page forum threads or “hey, you’re crazy, I don’t see anything” or “Oh, yea, that’s normal for a premium TV”). Having an issue is one thing, LG had and Sony had but they got in touch with the community and then addressed them. I will consciously avoid all Samsung products for the years to come, just for their infuriating response and the hours they caused me to waste.
Great observations.... if we can only have the option for turning OFF local dimming through service menu without loosing backlight control for me is more than enough....that can't be too much to ask for samsung
In my opinion it isn't a problem with the local dimming.
Because if you watch the same series/movies for example with a external device the problem isnt there.
While the tv still uses local dimming.
When i watch something with the internal Netflix app on my Q9FN with subtitles i see the brightness changes.
But when i watch with the Xbox One x + Netflix app and subs the brightness changes don't happen. (While i didn't change anything about the local dimming options)
So i can only conclude that the samsung tv software for apps (like Netflix) and internal mediaplayer display subs on a different what than most external devices.
So if the change the software to display subs the same way like most external devices the problem should be solved.
Yep, it is also on PS4, noticed with Uncharted HD Collection and with the Kingdom Hearts series (and since there is a ton of dialgue there, it is unplayable).
Noticed no change whatsoever after installing the new firmware.