Epson Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB Projector Review

The Epson Home Cinema 8500UB (click for full specs) photos below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV, with the one exception being Lord of the Rings (on standard DVD). Please note, by the time these Epson Home Cinema 8500UB projector images get to your eyeball, through digital SLR, software, browsers, and even your monitor, there are definite color shifts, saturation differences, etc. The images are to support the commentary, but keep in mind the limitations when trying to compare images from the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB with other home theater projectors. Take them all, “with a grain of salt”.

 

Of course, all these home theater projectors, including the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, definitely look much better live, than in even the best images shown in our review. Even to get these images, we have to make some minor adjustments to the overall color, including contrast and saturation. This is the one of the few times I’ve attempted to visibly match the photos to the screen. You’ll see below, one picture of the screen, with the same image on my laptop. Basically I was trying to match the Home Cinema 8500UB’s color on the screen. The goal was to make a minor change to the image processing in Photoshop to get the on computer image to more closely match what’s on the screen. It helped, but still far from perfect.

BTW, for whatever reasons, I find it much harder to get color accurate photos from 3LCD projectors than from DLP projectors. I have my theories, but, honestly, I cringe everytime I have a 3LCD home theater projector to shoot. That’s no reflection on the projectors themselves, but the photos from DLP projectors are consistently closer to the original on the screen, than with LCD projectors! And such is life.

Epson Home Cinema 8500UB Out of the Box Picture Quality

Click to enlarge .  so close

These new Epson projectors are pretty impressive right out of the box. I found the THX mode to be the best, although a little warm, but “smooth”. Theater Black 1 – HD on the Pro Cinema 9500UB, was also very good.

Most impressive however, is the drastic improvement in the brightest mode. Dynamic on the 8500UB, Vivid on the 9500UB projector. In “brightest” modes, previous Epsons were very strong in greens – way over the top, and to get decent color, one had to make dramatic changes to the older UB’s or, easier, work with the Livingroom mode, which wasn’t as bright. Either way, both of those modes, needed some real help.

 

Click Image to Enlarge

Not so with the new Epson home theater projectors. Vivid / Dynamic is far superior, in fact, untouched it’s almost as good as our “quick calibration” of the 6500UB. (By “quick calibration” we mean optimizing that mode for best viewing). Since it’s a “brightest” mode, our goal is not color perfection, but coming up with the best blend of preserving maximum brightness, while improving the color handling. (With the 6500UB, we gave up several hundred lumens in Dynamic mode, to get a much more watchable image). That wasn’t necessary this time with the new Epson. I must note, though, that “brightest” modes, this time around, aren’t measuring as bright, uncalibrated, as last year’s. In other words, it would seem Epson decided to take our advice, Instead of maximum lumens – but pretty much ugly color, compromise the lumens slightly to get acceptable color. That’s what Epson has accomplished with the new Home Cinema 8500UB and Pro Cinema 9500UB.

Check out our recommended settings for items like Brightness, Color, etc. on the Calibration page of this review.

Epson Home Cinema 8500UB Projector - Flesh Tones

I’m finding the skin tones of the Home Cinema 8500UB projector to be a touch better than the older 6500UB especially when viewing side by side. With the 6500UB, overall skin tones were very good, but not the best. Sometimes they leaned a tad to “over the top”, and this probably relates to the general dynamic look that Epsons seem to have. For whatever reason, the 8500UB skin tones look more correct, in that regard, than the projector it replaces. Let’s say it’s a touch more “film-like” in terms of skin tones. I felt that that was true pretty much across the board.

Above and below are images from the standard DVD release of Lord of the Rings, and skin tones of both Gandalf and Arwen appear very natural.

Moving to movies on Blu-ray, below are three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale. These were taken under different lighting conditions (on the set, not my theater). As I always point out, skin tones should look different under different lighting conditions. You can expect significantly different looking skin tones, when switching from bright sunlight, to nighttime, fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three images, the first, in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with fluorescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade – indirect lighting.

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