Epson Home Cinema 5010 Projector - Image Quality
A lot goes on: The projected image -any shifts due to the camera, a Canon 60D professional 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 Home Cinema 5010 photos. In other words, they are useful only to a point, as colors are not going to be all that accurate. Rest assured, the Epson Home Cinema 5010 will look far better in your darkened theater, than these images on your computer monitor.
Over all, the finished images in this case seem to have a slight reddish tint to them, that was not exhibited on the screen. It's very slight, but there when viewing on my MacBook Pro.
11/24/2011 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 5010 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Three of the four modes look pretty darn good for "right out of the box" Cinema and Natural are the two best choices for the best color. Both are a little cool, but short of calibrating the projectors, all you really have to do is slide the Color temp setting down from 6500K (displayed in the menus), to 6000K. If you like that one better, great. Either really is more than fine for the average viewer. For enthusiasts... pick one, or try our settings.
Over all, Cinema has more of that "wow and pop" factor. Natural looks a bit "laid back" by comparison.
As is typical of all home theater projectors, the actual background is not evenly illuminated. Pre-production versions, such as the Epson 5010e we have here, tend to be worse. This projector generally is pretty good in this regard, but with a slight reddish tint to black, that shows up, primarily when I take heavily overexposed photos, demonstrating shadow detail or blacks. The red is a little more noticeable on the right side than the left.
All that said, when I described above that the Epson, in the photos is showing more pink/red, than is on the screen, that's a whole different matter related to the camera, etc.
One note. The Epson Home Cinema 5010 (and the other similar versions) all have a Cinema filter, as have all the 1080p Epson projectors before it, but one.
That one, is the new Epson Home Cinema 3010, Epson's entry level 3D projector at $1599. I mention because a reader just inquired how come the HC5010 loses about 2/3 brightness between "brightest mode" and "best mode", but the 3010 only loses about 25%?
The answer is surely that the HC3010 lacks the Cinema filter. Its drop from "brightest" - to "best" - is more in line with that of LCoS and DLP projectors which also have no "Cinema filter." If you want the best color from an LCD filter, it seems that almost all have such a filter, and that includes the Panasonic PT-AE7000 as well as these Epson projectors!
Epson Home Cinema 5010 Projector - Flesh Tones
For comparison, top image is the Epson, the Gandalf below it, is the Panasonic PT-AE7000. They are several frames apart:
In this case, I have to pick the Epson (above) it just looks a bit more dynamic, and not over the top. Note, the stones of the arch toward the right top, on the Epson have a touch more red, than in the Panasonic. That's what I am talking about. When actually viewing the scene on the Epson, that red simply is not there, or perhaps so slight that it's really less than the amount of red on the Panasonic - which is to say, mostly: What red?
Below: Arwen, from the Blu-ray version of Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King:
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 night time 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:
And that concludes our skin tones images.
Epson Home Cinema 5010 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
In 2D, this Epson Home Cinema 5010, has the best black levels we've seen, short of some JVC projectors that start not far below $8000! That's pretty impressive considering it's about 1/3 the price. (That's like a Toyota Camry performing rivaling a BMW 7 series). The dynamic iris, which has two modes, is one of the best ones out there, in terms of not being noticeable, except rarely. Further, Epson really pushes the range of the iris, part of their trick to unmatched blacks using a dynamic iris.
The other aspect is that the Epson LCD panels C2Fine, D9 - their newest, inherently have rather impressive black level/contrast, even without using the iris.
We start with the usual starship image from The Fifth Element. (we are converting most of them to grayscale for easier comparison) going forward, so some of the others are in color, some in greyscale. All are intentially overexposed so you can see the "black levels" as dark grey backgrounds, and in the letterbox area. If two projectors have similar brightness letterboxes, then the one where the projector looks the most overexposed is the one with the best 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-VW90ES ($9995):
Sharp XV-Z17000 (direct competitor):
BenQ W6000, a "perennial favorite" lower cost DLP:
Shadow Detail Performance
The Epson has particularly good dark shadow detail, as you can see from the mages below. In fact, few can beat it. It's virtually all there. This is year two, for that statement. Until the 8700UB replaced the older 8500UB, I had been complaining that the Epson was on the weak side of dark shadow detail. Well, for the second year, no problem at all. Of note, the Espson Home Cinema 5010 is producing more dark shadow detail than the Panasonic PT-AE7000 when using both with Mike's calibrations. I do fool with the Brightness setting though to make sure upping the Brightness by one or two on a menu, doesn't reveal any more detail.
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. Note: The 5010, has higher contrast and is
Optoma HD33: Lower cost, competes with Epson's 3010 projectors, and not up to this contest
Optoma HD8300: Note, prior to the Panasonic review, my expectation was that the PT-AE7000 and the Optoma would be about a tie, both trailing the Epson 5010. Turns out The Optoma's blacks are blacker than the Panny, though still not quite up to the Epson 5010.
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB: Still the black level champ of the projectors selling for around the Panasonic's price or less, though only $2000. 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): A direct competitor, and a very good DLP for a bit less. No 3D. W7000 due soon
Sony VPL-HW30ES: Really nice blacks, but like the Optoma HD8300, not quite up to the Epson, nor is its shadow detail
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: Home Cinema 5010 Projector - Bottom Line
Awesome, when you consider this is a $2700 3D capable projector. That's doubly true when you consider that, while dark shadow detail is very good, it's the blacks that are unmatched anywhere near the price. Those really dark scenes in Harry Potter's Order of Phoenix (in the Ministry of Magic) are superb.
It's this combination, and especially the blacks aspect that is perhaps the number one reason, I'm a big Epson fan. If you calibrate, these days, it's not hard to get excellent color, but to have a really dark image like the train scene, or even tougher ones look great, when most others only look average, that's what has always worked for me.
Epson Home Cinema 5010 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
Short version (Thanksgiving day). The Epson calibrates well, the colors are nice and natural. Rich inky blacks compared to any of the competition, though, are what really give the Epson HC5010 the edge. As always, the projector will look better, and be more accurate in your environment, than these images can capture. And 3D is something to behold over here. No question, for 3D the Epson rocks. All that horsepower, plus respectable overall 3D picture quality. (If only they left the dynamic iris alive in 3D, then I might have said ...the Epson really Rocks!)
For 2D, hey, it's pretty much just like last year's Epson Home Cinema 8700UB (except for the extra muscle). That makes the Epson better in 2D as well.
A mix of additional images to show off the Epson Home Cinema 5010:
The image above, from Harry Potter.
Here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Epson Home Cinema 5010 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports, including 3D
These images were taken in my theater - nighttime, rear recessed 6 lights on at full intensity. Living room mode, unless otherwise noted. Once again, there is that bit of red in the images that just isn't on the screen. Below, you can make out that bit of red in the green playing field, but it's gone in "real life".
I also watched several hours of 3D concerts, boxing and NCAA football, using 3D Dynamic mode - no images though - photos don't translate well due to the effects of glasses etc. These are all 2D.
Epson Home Cinema 5010 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports, and also 3D HDTV content
I don't think you can beat the Epson under $3500. It's got more 2D brightness than any other home theater projector, though there are a few lower picture quality "home entertainment" projectors that are about as bright.
The images are sharp, there's lots of pop. Dynamic mode for 2D just screams of brightness. Try Mike's adjustments, they maintain about 90% of the default brightness but make the picture noticeably better. CFI works fine for smoother motion in 2D though not active in 3D.
3D moves are really very cool, now that we have a projector with the necessary brightness, but it's the other content, that blows me away. I think I'm going to set a nice, comfortable stool about 5 feet from the screen for most of my 3D viewing of this Epson (which if all goes well, Epson won't want back, anytime soon).
Politics anyone? That slight touch of red being picked up in the image processing can be seen here, too.