The Best Picture Settings for LG 4K TVs

Get the best experience when gaming, watching sports, or taking in a movie

Most people think a TV looks great right out of the box. While an LG 4K UHD TV may look acceptable with factory presets, there are extra settings that can improve picture quality further for TV shows, sports, movies, and gameplay. In this guide, we explain preset picture modes, show you how to customize them to your liking, and more.

The following applies to most LG LED/LCD and OLED TVs. Setting labels and options may vary by model series and year.

Before You Get Started

Here are some general tips for you to consider before finding an LG 4K TV's best picture settings for your viewing environment, content, and taste:

  • Place the TV where you can view it straight on: Don't place it where you need to look up, down, or at an angle to view the screen. This is important for LED/LCD TVs because the colors fade and the contrast narrows the farther you view off-angle from the center.
  • Control room lighting: Light from windows or lamps can reflect off the TV screen. Although some TVs have "anti-glare" or "anti-reflective" screen coatings, the picture won't look good if the light hits the screen. Curved Screen models distort reflections further. Lamps that can be dimmed or turned-off or drapes and shades can help improve a TV picture.
  • Select the TV's Home Mode: During the initial setup, you may be prompted to choose Home or Store Mode. The Store Mode initiates a demo with an overly bright picture with intense color and contrast that's better suited for a dealer showroom. 

You can also access Home Mode in the General settings menu. 

LG 4K Ultra HD TV – General Settings – Home vs Store Use Setting

How to Find Your LG TV's Preset Picture Modes

Here's how to locate your LG TV's Preset Picture Modes:

  1. On the TV's Home Page, select Settings.

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Home Page – Settings Selected
  2. The Quick Settings menu is displayed on the left or right side of the screen. Scroll to the picture icon and use the left/right arrow buttons on the remote to apply the preset picture modes. 

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Home Page – Quick Picture Settings
  3. You can also access preset picture modes by scrolling down the quick settings menu and selecting All Settings.

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Home Page – All Settings Selected
  4. In All Settings, select Picture.

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Settings Page – Picture
  5. Select Picture Mode Settings and scroll through the choices (listed below the following image).

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Picture Mode Settings

The Different Preset Picture Modes

Preset picture modes may vary by LG TV model and input source selected (HDMI vs. analog), but here are the most common:

  • Standard: This provides acceptable viewing for video and movie content and is usually enabled when you first turn on the TV.
  • Vivid: Heightened levels of contrast, brightness, and sharpness are applied. This setting should be avoided, but if used, it should only be in a natural light environment.
  • APS (Auto Power Saving): This adjusts picture quality in relation to power consumption using LG's automatic picture dimming control. Although this saves power, it can dampen picture quality. 
  • Cinema: This preset provides appropriate brightness, contrast, and color temperature level for movies. It's dimmer than Vivid or Standard and provides a warmer color temperature but is the best picture preset to use in a darkened room similar to a movie theater. Cinema also disables any added processing so movies retain film-like motion.
  • Sports: Provides the best picture preset for sports by displaying a brighter image, cooler color temperature, and faster motion response.
  • Game: Provides the best picture preset for games and places the TV in low latency mode for better response with game controllers. It also works with the Instant Game Response setting (discussed in the Additional Settings section later).
  • ISF (Day/Night): This provides two additional settings, allowing the user or a technician with additional equipment to calibrate the TV's picture settings more precisely. Consult your LG TV dealer or find an ISF-certified TV calibrator near you via the ISF website if you wish to use this.
  • HDR Effect: If your LG 4K UHD TV is HDR-compatible, those signals are detected automatically and the TV adjusts accordingly. The HDR Effect also provides a similar effect manually for SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content.

When adjusting the HDR Effect some content may look washed out or have uneven brightness levels from scene to scene. In most cases, it's not necessary to tweak this setting.

How to Customize Your Picture Mode Settings

Although LG's preset picture settings are a quick way to get better picture quality, you have the option to tweak each mode further using the Picture Mode Settings menu.

Sample and Test Images

Before adjusting picture settings, it's a good idea to use samples or test images as setting references. You can use sample images provided by the LG 4K TV as a start, but it's best to use an app or disc that provides standardized test patterns and images tailored for TV picture "calibration."

Examples of a test app and test discs include: 

Below is an example of one type of standardized test pattern that's provided on a test app or disc.

SMPTE Color Bars Example

Whether using LG's sample images or an app or disc to make adjustments, verify that the results of your settings look good when to you with actual content sources when you're finished. 

Here's what you need to do to to use LG's sample images:

  1. On the LG 4K TV homepage, select Photo/Video

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Homepage – Photos/Video Category Spotlighted
  2. In the Photo/Video menu, select Sample Photo.

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Photo Video Media Servers – Sample Images Selection
  3. Select the image from the four provided.

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Sample Images

How to Use Picture Mode Settings

Once you have your sample or test images, it's time to use the Picture Mode settings menu on an LG 4K TV. Here's what to do:

  1. On the home page, select Settings.

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Home Page – Settings Selected
  2. Scroll down and select All Settings.

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Home Page – All Settings Selected
  3. Go to the Picture Mode Settings Menu to customize settings under each Picture Mode. View results on the sample or test images.

    LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Picture Mode – Customize

The Various Picture Mode Settings

Here are the various picture mode settings you can find on your LG TV, along with what they do:

When working with the rest of LG's TV picture settings, you should maintain a written or typed record of changes for ongoing reference.

  • Backlight (for LED/LCD TVs): This changes the amount of light output from the backlight or edge light system of an LED/LCD TV.
  • OLED Light (for OLED TVs): OLED TVs don't have a backlight or edge light, but you can adjust the amount of light emitted by the OLED pixels.
  • Contrast: This makes bright areas of the image brighter or darker.
  • Brightness: This makes dark areas of the image brighter or darker.
  • Sharpness: This setting increases edge contrast to make objects more distinct, but resolution remains the same. Too little sharpness makes the picture appear soft while too much sharpness makes the picture look harsh. This setting should be applied as minimally as possible. 
  • Color: Adjusts color intensity (saturation). Too much color looks intense, too little color looks too subdued, or even "grayish."
  • Tint: Adjusts the amount of yellow/green and red/magenta (used primarily to adjust skin tones). This control should be set to "0" unless the color of the input source is too green or too red. 
  • Color Temperature: Adjusts the "warmth" (yellowish cast) or "coolness" (bluish cast) of the color range displayed. Warmer color temperatures are best for movies. Cooler color temperatures are better for TV broadcasts, sports, and games.
  • Reset: This returns the above picture settings to factory defaults. This is great if you make a mistake, want to stay with the defaults, or start over with new settings.
LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Reset Picture Settings

All of the above settings can be applied to each input or to all inputs. This enables you to designate the Game setting on one input and Cinema on another. You can also fine-tune the HDR Effect setting (only applies to the input the HDR source is connected to).

LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Apply Picture Settings to All Inputs

For reference, the following chart illustrates setting levels suggested by LG under typical lighting conditions:

LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Official Suggested Picture Settings
LG Electronics

How to Get Adventurous With Advanced Controls

From the Picture Mode Settings Menu, you can access more options via the Advanced Controls. Here are the options:

LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Advanced Picture Controls Selection
  • Dynamic Contrast: Unlike the contrast control in Picture Mode Settings, Dynamic Contrast corrects the balance of light and dark areas based on the incoming signal's brightness information. 
  • Dynamic Tone Mapping (HDR content only): Automatically makes subtle adjustments to HDR based on the changing brightness of HDR-encoded input signals. 
  • Dynamic Color: Makes color saturation adjustments based on variations of the incoming color signal.
  • Preferred Color: Provides separate adjustments for skin, grass, and sky color. This adds to the tint adjustment provided in Picture Mode Settings. However, most content sources look fine without the extra steps offered by the Preferred Color setting. 
  • Color Gamut: This allows you to select the range of colors that can be displayed. Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and 4K streaming sources provide a wider color range than other sources. It's best to set this control to Auto. 
  • Super Resolution: This is a video upscaling setting designed to make "blurred" images appear sharper (a more subtle version of the sharpness control). This may be helpful for analog video sources, standard resolution DVDs, and cable/satellite signals. For Blu-ray Discs and other HD/UHD sources, this control should be set to off. 
  • Gamma: This adjusts the mid-contrast range of the TV so it better matches the grayscale range of the source signal. The ideal Gamma setting for TVs is 2.2. LG TVs don't provide numerical Gamma settings but offer Off, Low, Medium, High 1, and High 2. If you watch a lot of movies in a dimly lit room, try Low. If you watch a lot of broadcast TV and other video content in a bright room, try Medium.

Several of these settings enable video processing that can affect Audio/Video synchronization, especially if the TV is used with an external audio system. Game controller response time may also be affected. 

How to Dig Deeper With Picture Options

The Picture Options settings category provides additional fine-tuning if needed, but may affect AV sync and Game response. Here's what you need to know.

LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Picture Options Selection
  • Noise Reduction: Reduces video noise present primarily in analog video signals. 
  • MPEG Noise Reduction: Reduces video noise that can be present in digital video signals.
  • Smooth Gradation: This setting helps to limit jagged edges (pixelation) that can be present. It also reduces color banding.
  • Black Level: Although the Brightness setting provides some control of the amount of black in the image, it affects the total image, whereas the Black Level setting fine-tunes dark areas but minimally affects the brighter parts of the image. This helps to reveal detail in dark areas independent of the rest of the image. 
  • Real Cinema: This complements the Cinema preset by preserving the 24 fps film frame rate from Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and related film sources.
  • Motion Eye Care: Automatically adjusts brightness and image blur that can cause eyestrain. If you don't suffer from visual fatigue, leave this setting off. 
  • TruMotion: Also referred to as Motion Smoothing or Frame Interpolation, this setting makes motion smoother, but may display a "Soap Opera Effect" on film sources, which makes the film look more like video. This is best suited for sports and live/taped TV broadcasts but should be turned off when watching DVD, Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, or other film sources.

Looking for More? Try Additional Settings

LG 4K Ultra HD TV – Additional Picture Settings Selection

LG 4K TVs provide the following three additional settings:

  • Eye Comfort Mode: Automatically adjusts the color temperature to reduce eye strain over long viewing periods. 
  • HDMI Ultra HD Deep Color: This allows a designated HDMI input to access 4k@60Hz signals encoded with 4:4:4, 4:2:2, or 4:2:0 chroma subsampling. However, if you don't have source devices capable of sending these signals, it's best to turn this feature off. 
  • Instant Game Response: This setting automatically activates the Game picture preset discussed previously if a game source is detected on an HDMI input. It also de-activates the Game preset when Gameplay stops.

The video may blink occasionally when Instant Game Response is enabled.