Epson Home Cinema 6100 Projector - Image Quality
Epson Home Cinema 6100 images below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV, with the exception of Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). These images are never very accurate compared to the image the Home Cinema 6100 projector projects on the screen. There are minor color shifts, saturation differences, etc.
The images are provided to support the commentary, so don't read too much into them, such as expecting an exact reproduction of skin tones. In reality, the projectors always look better than the images in our reviews.
1/6/2009 - Art Feierman
Home Cinema 6100 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Darn good! I was pleasantly surprised. The Epson 6100 is very good, right of the box in TheaterBlack 1 image mode - its "best" mode. Very few projectors come so well calibrated out of the box, as to really not need any calibration. Virtually all can be improved with one. We want everyone to get the most out of their projector, which is why we recommend at least a basic, end user friendly, calibration. Still, the Epson is good enough to be enjoyably watchable. You'd be surprised by the high percentage of home theater projectors that really are not acceptable to anyone with a half critical eye. Skin tones need to look really good, and this Epson passes that test. After we fine tuned it, they looked even better.
Note, we are seeing a very slight shift towards almost a pink in these images, compared to the projected image. Keep that in mind. (Due to camera, software, your display, etc. the images are never going to be near perfect representations of what is seen on the screen, and in fact never look as good as the projected image.)
We concentrate on "best" mode in our images. Epson has two other much brighter modes we look at, LivingRoom and Dynamic. These two didn't fare as well, in terms of out of the box performance. Livingroom was lacking in reds and too shifted to blue (but easily fixable). Dynamic we expect to be "over the top" when you really need to deal with a lot of light. Typically dynamic modes are heavy on yellows and greens, as in this case. Still a bit of adjustment to tame them a little, makes for a more watchable picture.
After our grayscale calibration, skin tones really looked very believable. The color textures in faces are very good. Despite that, the Home Cinema 6100 doesn't appear quite as natural as some other projectors in handling the flesh tones. This is chronic Epson. The trade-off seems to be the slightly more dynamic look to the Epson image compared to those other projectors. In other words, the aspects that I like to refer to as "pop and wow" seem to take their toll in making the projector a touch less "film-like" (a very subjective terms - as are pop and wow).
Here, first are a pair of images from my favorite movie not available yet on Blu-ray: Lord of the Rings, played from standard DVD. Both look very good.
Next are our three James Bond images from Casino Royale. This is a reminder that skin tones will appear different under different lighting. Sunshine, cloudy day, filtered sunlight, incandescent lighting, fluorescent lighting and night scenes all change the color balance. These three images illustrate the point. First, is direct sunlight, next is fluorescent lighting (in an airport), and finally filtered sunlight.
More images for your consideration:
rom Men In Black:
From the DVE-HD calibration disc (digital source material, not film):
Home Cinema 6100 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
This Epson has respectable black level performance. Remember if you want those really dark, inky blacks, there are a number of more expensive "ultra high contrast" projectors out there to choose from. Note, however, that the least expensive of those is the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 which is only a few hundred dollars more.
Of course Epson has their own Home Cinema 6500UB with superb black levels, for about $800 more (at the time of this writing).
This Epson on the other hand is a step down in black level performance from those projectors in general. Even those ultra high contrast projectors vary, from the stunning JVC projectors' black levels, to that Sanyo PLV-Z3000 (which so far, has the least black blacks of those projectors but is still better than the Epson 6100).
The Home Cinema 6100's direct competition, on the other hand, mostly comes up short of this Epson. I viewed the Epson side by side with the Optoma HD806, and the Epson was a very visible winner. Comparing the Home Cinema 6100 to Sanyo's PLV-Z700 (currently the least expensive 1080p projector), and the very similar but a tad better (in terms of black levels) Mitsubishi HC5500, the Epson performs favorably. I wish that I still had one of those here for side by side comparison, but since I don't, my impression is that the Epson is definitely better than the other two. I find its blacks more satisfying. On some scenes I recall those two projectors, along with some other entry level 1080p projectors, leaving me wanting for better blacks. With the Epson, the thought is more of "not bad, not bad at all". That's certainly not a huge difference, but every bit helps. (You can never have too black a black!) Right now I'm watching the night time airport scene in Casino Royale, and those blacks look pretty good (at least until I switch back to my JVC RS1 a little later this evening).
For those that like to compare images, we'll start with the Starship scene from The Fifth Element. Since we can never get two exposures exactly the same, you'll have to give your brain a workout comparing the blacks. By the way, the amount of nebulous clouds in each image is a good indication of the level of exposure. Since the Epson is showing the most, it is the most overexposed frame.
For comparison, here's the same image from the Mitsubishi HC5500:
And below is the Panasonic PT-AE3000.
Next is the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB:
Consider two additional images which are good ones for considering black levels.
Shadow Detail Performance
This Epson is pretty good at shadow detail, but not sensational. It looses a little of the darkest shadow details, compared to the best out there. It's a close thing. The Mitsubishi HC5500 for example does reveal a bit more for example. The subtle loss of detail, I believe also ties to the "pop and wow" of the Home Cinema 6100. The more expensive 6500UB exhibits the same traits.
Top left: Home Cinema 6100, Middle: Panasonic PT-AE3000U, Right: BenQ W5000:
The next set of comparison images is from Space Cowboys. This is a very dark scene with Clint Eastwood, on Blu-ray disc. The photos are intentionally way overexposed. Look for the blacks in the shades, and the details in those shades in the form of the white trim. (At this level of overexposure, don't even worry about the skin tones, as in these type of photos they always look terrible, and way oversaturated/too high contrast).
First image is the Home Cinema 6100, followed by the Optoma HD806, Sanyo PLV-Z3000 and the Sony VW60. The last three in the sequence are the Sanyo PLV-Z700, Panasonic PT-AE3000U and the older (but higher end) Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB.
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The Home Cinema 6100 (top left) has respectable shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite, but the overall dark areas come out darker than on many other projectors, losing some shadow detail. Next to it on the first row, is the Optoma HD806, Those images are followed by the Sony VPL-VW60 and the PT-AE3000U (second row). The third row is the Mitsubishi HC6500 (left), and the Sanyo PLV-Z700 on the right.
The re-entry image below, is a tough shadow detail test. Projectors with weak black levels and average shadow detail ability tend to generate an image where much of the right side of earth looks to have that flat, lacking in detail look. All projectors pick up some of the brighter features on the right side, while better ones, pick up a lot more and usually have richer blacks as well.
On the left, is the Home Cinema 6100, the middle, the Optoma HD806, and on the right, the Panasonic PT-AE3000. The Sanyo does the best job on shadow detail, followed by the Panasonic, and then the Epson, which has always been just a little weak on shadow details.
Next is the casino image at night from Bond's Casino Royale.
When comparing, look at the detail in the roof (tiles), and also in the assorted trees and plants. The small images below (all from the same projector) show a slightly overexposed scene. Click on the images and the larger versions of the different projectors, are far more overexposed, to allow a closer inspection of shadow details.
Epson Home Cinema 6100 projector:
Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector:
Sony VPL-VW40 projector:
Optoma HD806 projector:
InFocus IN83 projector: (an excellent and far more expensive projector)
Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector:
Below is a heavily overexposed scene from Lord of the Rings. The overexposure lets you see all the details in the shed on the right, the structure on the left, and the plants and ground along the lower right. The Home Cinema 6100U performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the Epson Home Cinema 6100, Sanyo PLV-Z700 in the center, and the right for the PT-AE3000U.
Our last comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Epson Home Cinema 6100, second is the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, the third is the Mitsubishi HC6500, and the last one is from the Panasonic PT-AE3000.
Image immediately above (Panasonic) is slightly blurred - our fault -art
Another very good image for observing shadow detail is this very dark scene from the first National Treasure film. The Home Cinema 6100 does do a good job of revealing details, especially if you look to the top right, or the left center. The image is enough overexposed that you can see the "blacks" in the letterbox area, look gray.
Bottom Line: Black level and Shadow Detail
The Epson's combined performance is particularly good for being one of the least expensive 1080p resolution projectors out there. I think the trade-off of better black levels, but a slight bit less shadow detail makes for a better viewing experience than the combination of better shadow detail, but less impressive black levels. I believe the Home Cinema 6100's combination gives it an advantage over most of the nearby priced competition The exceptions being the not much more expensive Sanyo PLV-Z3000 and the $500+ more for the Panasonic PT-AE3000, the two least expensive ultra high contrast projectors. None of the DLP projectors in the price range can match the Epson's blacks, with the exception of the BenQ W5000 which should do blacker blacks than the Epson.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
Really very good! The 6100 looks great on bright scenes, but, within the limit of its black level performance also does particularly well on dark scenes too. While it can't do really dark scenes as well as the next tier of projectors with better black levels, this Epson really does achieve a level of picture quality that is most impressive, especially considering the price.
The Epson's image has a dynamic look and feel. It's that pop and wow I keep talking about. Perhaps it translates best as a little more punch to the picture. Hopefully you get the idea!
For your viewing enjoyment - a number of images from Blu-ray discs including both movies, and original digital source material. And of course one image from standard DVD, for good measure.
From the DTS Blu-ray test disk, consider these:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
And here are a few assorted, additional images, most of which can be found on other recent reviews. The first is from Lord of the Rings (standard DVD):
Epson Home Cinema 6100 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
Let's start off this way. The Home Cinema 6100 is a great projector for sports viewing. I relied primarily on a very bright LivingRoom mode, and I could fill most of my 128" screen while one of my windows blinds was partially raised. That resulted in a very watchable image. With all my shades down, even though my room still has a fair amount of ambient light leaking in during the day, the image was reasonably bright and dynamic, with almost no sense of being washed out at all. I watched some Tonight show, music videos, high quality programming such as Discovery HD, and general programming, and the Epson looked good no matter what I through at it.
Images from sports and general HDTV programming will be added shortly.
The images above and below are from a Moody Blues Concert that has been broadcast in HD, it is also available on Blu-ray disc.