BenQ W7000 Projector - Image Quality
The images in this review are taken with the W7000 projector projecting onto a Stewart Studiotek 130 screen. That's only the beginning though:
The projected image -any shifts due to the camera, (a Canon 60D dSLR), a Mac laptop for cropping and resizing, etc, using Adobe Bridge and Photoshop, then saved "for web" (super compressed), and displayed with your graphics card, monitor, and browser all, further coloring the BenQ W7000 photos. In other words, they are useful only to a point, as colors are not going to be all that accurate. Rest assured, the BenQ W7000 will look far better in your darkened theater, than these images will ever look on your computer monitor.
With each review we find that the entire batch of images takes on a touch of coloration. We won't get into the "why that is" here, but in the case of the BenQ W7000 projector, overall, the finished images in this case seem to have taken on a slight yellowish cast to them, that was not exhibited by the W7000 projecting on to the screen. It really is rather slight, but, definitely is there when viewing on my MacBook Pro. You might spot that touch of yellow shift in the shadows of skin tones for example. I can see some of that color shift, just going from the raw image to the compressed jpg final.
1/3/2012 - Art Feierman
BenQ W7000 Out of the Box Picture Quality
For an engineering sample, the User 1 mode (which Mike calibrated) actually looked rather decent, not great. Let's conjecture that full production W7000's will be even better, as BenQ has already confirmed they have improved the color tables on the newer firmware.
Update 2/27/12: The new W7000 with final firmware still only looks decent, right out of the box. I cannot say that the default color accuracy has improved. There's still a pretty impressive difference between calibrated, and "right out of the box". -art
With that in mind, the color right out of the box isn't bad, but, production software hopefully will be better, we noticed one issue in the color management, which BenQ advised has been corrected in the production firmware. (Update, that related to poor Cyan settings in the color management system. Those have been changed, but that had no real impact on out of the box color.)
Important note: Although we received a W7000 projector with the finished firmware, the vast majority of images in this review were taken, using the original engineering sample W7000, after it was calibrated. Exceptions are so noted.
We have not calibrated the new W7000 nor retaken any of the images not specific to black level performance, unless otherwise noted. There are a number of side by side images with the Epson 5010 scattered through the review. Most of those were taken using the uncalibrated new W7000. As a result, the color accuracy of those W7000 images is inferior to the originals, even though a calibrated, "new" W7000 will do better color than the calibrated engineering sampe. (Mike - our calibrator. is away for a month).
The new W7000, like the engineering sample, is not great "right out of the box", though a touch better. The W7000 is a projector, that to fully enjoy its performance, should be calibrated!
BenQ W7000 Projector - Flesh Tones
We consider skin (flesh) tones in terms of how they look after a basic grayscale calibration. (This is something you can do yourself with some calibration software.)
The BenQ W7000 projector calibrated extremely well. The skin tones the W7000 displays are rich and accurate, as one would expect from a very good DLP projector.
The W7000 certainly has that "DLP" look and feel, and the skin tones do look the part.
Our first two (above and below) as usual, are Gandalf and Arwen, from the Blu-ray version of Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King. Unlike most projectors, the BenQ does pick up the greenish caste caused by the scene being shot in a very lush, green forest.
Below are three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first - full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, a nighttime photo. As one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond - Daniel Craig - to have different looking skin tones.
More images we like for considering skin tones:
A couple of images (above and below) from Quantum of Solace
Of course there are more images showing skin tones throughout the review, but that concludes the sequence here.
Regarding Calibrating the W7000 Projector:
While the finished production W7000 is definitely better than the engineering sample, these side by side images below (W7000 vs. Epson 5010), show you the importance of getting the color right on the W7000. These side by side images are using the W7000 uncalibrated (left), and it is definitely off, compared to the same images elsewhere in the site, taken with the calibrated engineering sample. The calibrated Epson image gives a good reference of what the W7000's color should be, post calibration:
And, here again, is the same image as immediately above (Bond - plane), taken with the calibrated W7000 engineering sample:
As expected, any calibrated W7000 will look closer in terms of color, to another calibrated projector - be it an Epson, or anything else properly calibrated), than to, in this case, an uncalibrated W7000. Again, the heavy green on the uncalibrated W7000 is way over the top, but a calibrated W7000 looks just great!
In the two images below, the first is from the BenQ W7000, taken, uncalibrated, "right out of the box". In the second image, we dropped in the settings from the calibration of the engineering sample W7000. To my pleasant surprise, the full production W7000 took very nicely to the older color table. One exception. due to an anomoly Mike spotted with the sample projector, he felt forced to make some modifications to Cyan in the CMS. Well, the newer BenQ uses different defaults in the CMS, etc. Short of calibrating, I found very little difference, between the default Cyan on this full production one, and Cyan after adjustements on the sample. Bottom line, in observing the color, after applying our original calibration settings on the engineering sample to the full production W7000, the result looks really good. Thus, the settings we provide on the calibration page, should be a great start for those not prepared to hire a calibrator.
Here's a quick look at "out of the box" color on the final W7000, followed by the W7000 using the calibration settings (except CMS), from the sample W7000:
BenQ W7000 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Black level performance on this engineering sample was a disappointment, especially considering how good the older variation, the W6000 is. We contacted BenQ about this issue, and they indicated production projectors should be much better.
As I believe is mentioned elsewhere, they specifically said:
"We did the measurement of the latest unit of W7000 (newer firmware) and a W6000 we have, and the result shows that they are about the same."
That should indicate that full production W7000's should behave pretty much like the W6000. BenQ has not indicated any change in the iris, nor changed the 50,000:1 contrast spec, so I hope, and expect to see very good, "ultra high contrast" quality black level performance.
Update 2/19/2012: No question about it, the "finished" W7000's blacks are visibly better!
BenQ W7000 engineering sample image:
Note that the blacks in the letterbox area of the BenQ are just the tiniest bit darker than in the Epson below (if you measure (about 10% darker), but the starship below is far more overexposed, indicating a much greater difference between projectors, with "blacker blacks" on the Epson.
Of course we expect the newer firmware to close the gap. But will have to see for ourselves. For now, the W7000 has decent blacks but not where they need to be for this to be a really great projector. We'll see what a few weeks will do.
The new firmware does improve black performance. It's not a truly gigantic improvement (nor was one expected), but it is significant enough to move the W7000 from a projector with " OK blacks for the price", to one with "Especially good blacks for the price". All considered, the finished W7000 now offers blacks that are roughly comparable to the Panasonic PT-AE7000, perhaps a tad shy of the Optoma HD8300, and a little further behind the Epson 5010. Still, these are very good blacks now. Making other issues more important to your final decision.
Above: BenQ W7000 (left) sporting finished firmware, Epson 5010 on the right.
BenQ W7000 (old firmware - mediocre blacks);
Epson Home Cinema 5010:
Optoma HD8300: Very nice, better than the Panasonic, about half way to the Epson
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB ($2199): Last year's black level champ under $5,000
Optoma HD33 (lower cost, $1499 3D capable projector): Blacks are no match.
JVC DLA-HD250: Now discontinued - No dynamic iris, but blacks roughly comparable to the Epson. Otherwise though, limited in features compared to the Epson (no 3D, no CFI, and half the brightness).
Runco LS10d projector ($27,000+): This one is included to make the point, that a lot more money doesn't mean any significant improvement in black levels. Think, instead that other things become more important.
Sony VPL-VW95ES ($6999): the Sony offers exceptional black levels using a dynamic iris to achieve them:
Sharp XV-Z17000 (direct competitor):
BenQ W6000, the W7000 predecessor:
Shadow Detail Performance
No problem at all with the ability of the W7000 projector to show off very dark shadow detail. You'll find the BenQ in the image below holds its own with just about any of the other images, when viewing those bushes on the right, behind the tracks, and the trees behind them.
BenQ W7000 Image immediately below was photographed with the early W7000 firmware:
By comparison, here's the W7000 (final firmware), in a side by side photo with the Epson on the right:
Epson Home Cinema 5010:
Exposures are never identical. Note that the Epson is a bit less overexposed than the Panasonic below it. You can also determine the better black levels of the Epson.
Epson Home Cinema 3010: Epson's lower cost, $1599. Not an ultra-high contrast projector.
Optoma HD33: Lower cost, competes with Epson's 3010 projectors, and not up to this contest.
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB: Still the black level champ of the projectors selling for under $3000. The better blacks definitely add some extra "pop and wow", on these really dark scenes.
Mitsubishi HC4000: Excellent lower cost DLP projector, but no dynamic iris for improving blacks.
BenQ W6000 (ultra high contrast, 2D): The W7000 predecessor - no 3D.
Sony VPL-HW30ES: Really nice blacks, but like the Optoma HD8300, not quite up to the Epson's blacks, nor the W7000's shadow detail.
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: BenQ W7000 Projector - Bottom Line
Great job on shadow detail, but we need the new firmware for the final call on black levels.
BenQ W7000 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
Great looking colors and skin tones, great shadow detail. The BenQ really pops. One of my favorite projectors to watch for the price. I do like that DLP look. For those of you who have owned DLP projectors, you will appreciate this one. Skin tones look really good, perhaps not as natural as some fine projectors like the SIM2 I just reviewed (about $25,000), or even the Sony VPL-VW95ES ($7000), but it has more richness, for example, than the LCoS based Sony.
A mix of additional images to show off the BenQ W7000:
Here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
BenQ W7000 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports, including 3D
For virtually all my watching of HDTV content, I never had to leave the BenQ W7000 projector's "best" calibrated mode, and could still enjoy a really bright picture with over 1500 lumens behind it.
Below shows my theater with the back shutters opened only part way. The rear down facing lights are also on, and the door open. The sports images were taken with the room like this. For the other HDTV images, the shutters and door were closed.
Sure, there's about 400 additional lumens available, by going to an uncalibrated Dynamic mode. Consider that you are going to either need a huge screen, or a desire to deal with a whole lot of ambient light, to need that extra brightness in 2D, so enjoy beautifully calibrated color with brightness as good as the other few bright projectors, none of which can match the W7000 projector's color when at these lumen levels.
3D is reasonably bright, unless, of course, if you've gone out and gotten yourself a huge screen - say 140" diagonal. The W7000 may be up to that in 2D, but while that might buy you decent brightness at that size (with a typical screen), the W7000 looks reasonably bright on 100 and 110" diagonal screens, and can be pushed further without feeling dim.
I watched a recorded 3D football game (NCAA), at about 100" and I did not feel lumen deprived.
I've scattered several DirecTV Sunday NFL Mix images in this review. Sunday Mix alone is justification for buying a projector if you are a football fan. When they are only showing 4 games at once, each is the size of a pretty large plasma (or LCDTV) display.
Even with eight games up, I can adjust my zoom a little, and take advantage of their layout, and my 2.35:1 screen. When I'm set up, each of the games is roughly the size of a 37" LCDTV. Times 8!
You can actually see what's going on, in each game! Very cool.
BenQ W7000 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports, and also 3D HDTV content
For sports, the CFI (True Video) works very well for those wanting motion smoothing, as a single chip DLP projector, the W7000 provides a very sharp image which you can really appreciate with all digital content like HDTV sports, concerts and other high quality programming.
Above, another image from the Victoria Secret Fashion Show (above), and (below), the band Vampire Weekend performing at an Isle of Wight concert festival.
Overall, the BenQ is rather exceptional for HDTV and sports thanks to the combination of really great color and tons of brightness.