Epson Home Cinema 6100 - Performance
1/6/2009 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 6100 Brightness
Before we begin on this section of the Home Cinema 6100, you should know that we will soon be changing measuring and calibration equipment. We have been aware that the lumen numbers we publish are typically higher than other reviewers are reporting. Still, "apples to apples" applies. The brightness differences between projectors in our reviews is consistent, regardless of the actual numbers published. If projector x measures 20% brighter than projector y, that still holds true, even if our actual lumen measurements for both, are on the high side. Our screen size recommendations are based on viewing, not on lumen measurements.
When we formally switch over, we will publish a table showing "old lumens" vs. "new lumens" for the home theater projector reviews published in the last year. This should prevent confusion. Most likely our next review will use the new gear.
OK, let's get started!
As is also the case with the Epson 6500UB, the Home Cinema 6100 is the brightest of the 3LCD projectors. The two Epson's are virtually identical in brightness.
The Epson actually has seven different preset modes, however we concern ourselves with just three: TheaterBlack1 ("best" mode), LivingRoom (a "bright mode, without maximum compromise for ambient light), and Dynamic (the "brightest" mode), but one with pushed colors, and a less natural look, but ideal for cutting through ambient light - great for example, for watching sports where no one is worries about how perfect the skin tones are). Mike in doing his measurements does provide brightness numbers for all seven modes, but we only fully calibrate "best" mode. LivingRoom and Dynamic we allow more imperfections in exchange for not sacrificing a lot of lumens.
Here are the numbers (and the color temperatures for 100 IRE (white), for all the preset modes, right out of the box, before any adjustments:
Theater Black 1= 687 @ 6566
Theater Black 2= 684 @ 6248
Theater= 739 @ 7884
Dynamic= 2057 @ 6838
LivingRoom= 1581 @ 8539
Natural= 743 @ 6783
x.v.Color= 540 @ 6449
These measurements were done with the projector lamp set to High Brightness. Dropping the lamp into low power mode, we measured TheaterBlack 1 at 517 lumens, a drop of approximately 25%. That 25% drop should be consistent between high and low lamp settings for all the modes. As is typical, low lamp modes have slightly different color temp readings than high lamp. In the case of this Epson, white measured 7031K in low lamp mode, just a little too cool (blue).
Note that, out of the box, LivingRoom mode is heavily shifted to blue (over 8500K color temperature) - a far cry from the ideal 6500K for movies, and most viewing. That was easily corrected by adjusting the Epson's color temp down from its default 8000K (for that mode) to either 6500K or 7000K. Personally, for things like sports viewing I actually favor a color temperature between 6500K and 7000K, and even 7500K is very watchable.
Another factor that comes into play is the positioning of the projector, in terms of distance from a given sized screen. A projector puts fewer lumens on the screen when the lens is at full telephoto, than at the mid-point, and significantly less than wide angle (which is half the distance to the screen as telephoto), for this projector.
Consider, if you choose to shelf mount in the back of your room, in most cases you will be somewhere between mid-point on the zoom, and telephoto. If you ceiling mount the Epson, near its closest possible mounting point, you will get a very significant boost in lumens. Here are numbers for full wide-angle, mid-point, and full telephoto, taken using the Dynamic mode. The percentage differences should be the same, regardless of which mode you are using. Except for the Wide and Tele numbers below, all measurements are taken with the lens at mid-point setting.
Wide-Angle: 2266 lumens
Mid-point: 2057 approximately 9% dimmer than Wide, 28% brighter than Tele
Telephoto: 1609 lumens
That covers the brightness measurements out of the box. There are slight differences after calibration, which are reported in the Calibration section.
Very nice. Epson is still using a Fujinon lens, the same one as the older 1080 and 1080 UB. Still, this Epson appears a bit sharper than the old models (the same is true for the 6500UB). No issue at all with sharpness. There may be slightly sharper images out there, but not enough to impact a buying decision.
Here are our usual two images we like for sharpness, along with the same images from a number of competing projectors:
Top left: Epson Home Cinema 6100, Top Center, Sanyo PLV-Z3000, Top right: Mitsubishi HC6500
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AE3000, middle: Sanyo PLV-Z700, right: InFocus IN82
Next: Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right Home Cinema 6100, Optoma HD806, Sanyo PLV-Z700, and Mitsubishi HC5500.
Epson Home Cinema 6100: Bottom Line Sharpness
The Home Cinema 6100 is one of the sharper 1080p projectors out there. Definitely not the sharpest, but, for all practical purposes, sharp enough!
This Epson is clean, no noticeable leakage through the lens, even with a fully dark screen. The most minor amount of light is visible through the front vent, but only from a side angle, and definitely a non-issue.
The Epson 6100 doesn't use the same image processing as the more expensive Home Cinema 6500UB, but still performs admirably. Performance relating to Jaggies, 3:2 pull-down, mosquito noise, etc., are all at very acceptable levels.
The Epson Home Cinema 6100 is quieter than the older Home Cinema 1080 it replaces, although not by a great amount. The Home Cinema 1080 (and UB version) was on the loud side of average, just slightly quieter than a typical DLP projector, and a couple of LCoS projectors. The quietest projectors, in terms of Audible Noise, tend to be 3LCD projectors, but the older Epsons are a couple of the noisier 3LCD models. The 6100 is likely at least 3 db quieter than the old 1080. The Sanyo, Panasonic and Mitsubishi competitors are all still noticeably quieter, but the 6100's performance has improved enough to make audible noise a non-issue for all but the most noise adverse people.
Those most audible noise sensitive may not like the Epson when running at full lamp power, but the Epson is very quiet in low power, claiming 22 db, and probably close (relative to other projectors and their claims). The 30db claim for full lamp power, is also probably about right. Most DLP projectors tend to be 30 - 35 db claimed, and most are somewhere between just a little noisier, to a full step noisier.
You won't notice the fan noise (full power) except on a dead quiet (or almost) scene, at worst. The dynamic iris, which made a bit of grinding-like noise on the old 1080 UB, is much quieter with this new projector, and now definitely not a factor.
The Home Cinema 6100 has a dynamic iris, and it makes a low, rumbling sound as it works. A few people complained about this on the older series. The new Home Cinema projectors though, seem to also be a little quieter in terms of the iris noise. Mind you, you won't hear this during normal watching, but you might just notice it, if the projector is placed near you, on extremely quiet scenes. I do not consider this to be a real issue.
So, keep audible noise as a possible issue (full power), in the back of your mind, but it really won't be an issue for the vast majority of people. I can tell you that when our forced air heat, or air conditioning kicks on, the noise of the air coming out of the vents in my room is definitely, noticeably noisier than the Epson 6100 running at full power. Hopefully this provides you with some useful perspective.