Epson Home Cinema 5020 UB Home Theater Projector Review

This page is dedicated to discussing performance aspects of the Epson HC5020 UB projector’s brightness in its best and brightest modes, including images showing relative brightness of the modes. We also look at sharpness, image, audible noise levels…

Epson Home Cinema 5020 Brightness

Very interesting! Although according to Epson and their specs, the Home Cinema 5020 UB is the same brightness as the older HC5010, there was a nice surprise.  When measuring the Dynamic mode it proved to be brighter, but by less than 5%.  Still, that’s nice.

More impressive, however, Mike reported that after his calibration, the HC5020 measured 10% brighter than last year.

A side note for those of you considering this Epson projector or its closest competitor, the Panasonic PT-AE8000:  In the recent PT-AE8000 review I commended Panasonic for increasing brightness, and said (anticipating no increase in calibrated brightness for this Epson), that Panasonic, has finally caught up to Epson in terms of calibrated lumens.  Well, it turns out that Epson has managed to stay ahead of them, by 7-8%  That’s not huge but, it does mean you can fill a roughly 5″ larger diagonal screen with the same amount of brightness (compared to the PT-AE8000).

As always, I ask Mike to also “tweak” the brightest mode, to improve color as much as possible, at the least cost in brightness (we call his “tweaking” a “quick-cal”).  We consider this important, as most often, a projector has a brightest mode that just is not pretty to watch.

First, measurements “right out of the box”:

Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE
Dynamic 1890 @ 6702
Living Room 1473 @ 8088
Natural 804 @ 7132, 572 in Eco lamp mode (default)
 Cinema 804 @ 7041, 572 in Eco lamp mode (default)
 THX 804 @ 7012, 572 in Eco lamp mode (default)

Note that THX and the other similar highest quality modes really look good, if just a touch cool. They measure 800 lumens, a significant increase of more than 20% “out of the box” compared to Mike’s measurements last year for the older HC5010.

Comparing “out of the box” brightness of best modes with the Panasonic, the Epson sports just over 800 lumens to the Panasonic’s 650ish lumens. That makes this Epson HC5020 UB more than 20% brighter.  I’ll discuss more in the inevitable Panasonic vs. Epson shoot-out.

Post Calibration: Best Mode

Mike Calibrated Cinema mode. Post calibration: 678 lumens

It’s a modest 48 lumens brighter than last year, but at almost 700, it has for the first time, put a calibrated Epson up with similar brightness to a number of LCoS and DLP projectors.  Epson’s have routinely been drastically brighter at best, but also typically those calibrate in the 700 range.  Just two years ago, the Epson’s were right around 500 lumens, so this represents almost a 40% increase.  In the old days, I never felt that Epson’s had quite enough brightness to fill my old 128″ screen when calibrated.  But my 700 lumen and change JVC could.  Finally Epson can handle larger screens when fully calibrated.

Quick-Cal: Brightest Mode = Dynamic 1706 lumens

This isn’t a D65 (6500K) calibration, rather an attempt to make the Home Cinema 5020 projector’s Dynamic mode a little more balanced in color, than it starts with. Most dynamic type modes, greens and blues tend to be over the top. Our goal is to just make a dynamic mode more natural, but with the paramater of not giving up too much brightness.

 

Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode):

Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode)
Zoom out 2142
Mid-zoom 1890
Zoom in 1438

In all the talk above about lumens, remember that how you place your projector has a lot of impact on brightness. This Epson with its wide range zoom, loses brightness the further back you place it from your screen.

Put that projector as close to the screen as you can, and you’ve got over 2100 lumens to work with, but lose just over 10% by moving back to the mid-range of the zoom, and for those of you putting the projector on a shelf at the far end of the range, you get about 30 percent less. This is typical of projectors that have zoom lenses with tons of range (2:1 or greater).

This is why we do all our measurements except this one, with the projector at mid-zoom. I normally have most projectors set up near their mid-points when I’m watching them. If you are at the short end of the range, you’ve got a few more lumens – a little extra juice. If you are way back, my declarations of bright enough, are a touch optimistic. Have fun with all that.

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