Epson Home Cinema 8100 Projector Review

Black Levels - comparison

Cinema 8100
overexposed HC3800
slight overexposure
Cinema 8100
Sony VPL-HW15:
Optoma HD20:
Panasonic PT-AE3000:
Cinema 6500UB
BenQ W6000
Dark Knight
Cinema 8100
+overexposed HC3800

The image immediately below is from The Dark Knight. I’ve intentionally overexposed it to make a point. This is the type of scene where the difference in black level performance makes a huge difference. Because the outside areas of the scene, and for that matter the men’s jackets are pretty black, with little detail at all, projectors with just “good” black levels look very flat. Below the Home Cinema 8100 silhouette image, is the same scene using the BenQ W6000, and then, the Sony VPL-VW15, both of which are definitely “step up” competitors, yet the Epson hangs in pretty well, seeming to be at least as dynamic looking as the others.

Cinema 8100
Sony VPL-VW15
Cinema 8100
+Sony VPL-VW15

The Epson Home Cinema 8100 relies on a dynamic iris to achieve deep blacks on dark scenes. As is normal for a dynamic iris, it can’t be allowed to close down if large areas of a scene are bright, but will close down somewhat, or even a lot, when there is only a small amount of very bright, or a larger quantity of medium bright areas. The end result is some compression of the image. So that you see how this Epson handles all that (and other projectors with dynamic irises), consider these two images.

On the pair of images below (Home Cinema 8100), taken several frames apart, you can see that the black levels (and bright areas) are different. That is precisely unlike the pair of images below it from the Mitsubishi HC3800, which has no iris, and the background remains constant.

With the BenQ, you can see how the background lightens when the credits are up. This type of visible shifting of the image due to iris action is not an issue with the Home Cinema 8100. The trade-off – the Home Cinema 8100 doesn’t quite match the black level performance of most projectors with a dynamic iris. Before you ask, yes the second pair (W6000) are more overexposed, which was done to make it easier to see the difference between the blacks with and without credits on the projector with the dynamic iris. BTW, do not use these images to equate the black levels of the two projectors, the frames taken with the Home Cinema 8100 were done without signficant overexposure, unlike the W6000 images. Look closely and you can see the background on the Epson image with the Leonard Nimoy credit, is slightly lighter than the plain star image below it.

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