Epson Home Cinema 6500UB Projector - Image Quality
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB images below are from either Blu-ray, or HDTV, with the exception of Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). These images are not overly accurate compared to the image the Home Cinema 6500UB projector projects on the screen. There are color shifts (too much yellow, in this case), 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. From a color standpoint, my dSLR camera still adds a very slight green shift I have not been able to remove.
12/28/2008 - Art Feierman
Home Cinema 6500UB Out of the Box Picture Quality
Actually, the Epson does a pretty good job out of the box, when it comes to having a great "best mode". Overall, Things like brightness, contrast and color saturation are very good, although color saturation is definitely a little much. I dialed down saturation from its default setting of 0 to -7 for most viewing, but occasionally down to -9 (that's a very subtle difference between -7 and -9). The default setting for brightness of 0 looses a bit too much dark shadow detail, but a minor adjust to +2 solves that.
The default color settings are a little warm - just favoring red a bit too much. Other than dialing down color saturation though, the Epson is extremely watchable in TheaterBlack1.
I looked closely at LivingRoom and Dynamic modes as well. Both are way too cool (bluish) out of the box, but can be quickly corrected by sliding the Color Temp control down to 6500 or 7000, which really improves things. These minor changes (saturation, color temp), are just that, and obvious things to do, not requiring a calibration.
Dynamic as expected does push yellow and green up, to help cut through ambient light. The result is a bit over the top, and too much (unless you really have major ambient light problem. Our "quick calibration" tames the yellows and greens without sacrificing any significant amount of brightness, for a more watchable image.
Still, the Epson does benefit from a proper calibration, be it one you can do with a simple "end-user friendly" calibration disc (AVIA or DVE-HD). If you don't have it in you to try that, I recommend you try the settings we came up, and reported on the Calibration page.
After calibrating the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, skin tones improved a bit, to the point of being really very good, but not the best. Still not as natural, as, say the InFocus IN83, and I'd even give the Panasonic PT-AE3000 a slight edge.
While most projectors with good skin tones do differ from one another, they all tend to look very good during normal viewing. Put two such projectors side by side, and you really notice what would otherwise be subtle differences. If one has more red, and the other a touch more green, they tend to both look off, but either, by itself can look very natural.
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.
Here are three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale, under different lighting conditions. The point here, is that correct skin tones vary, depending on the lighting. You can expect significantly different looking skin tones, when switching from bright sunlight, to nighttime, flourescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three imagfes, the first, in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with flourescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade - indirect lighting.
Next are images from the sci-fi flick, Aeon Flux:
From Men In Black:
The last image above is from HDTV (the last Olympics), the image was photographed with the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB in LivingRoom mode. Very impressive skin tones and color, for a "non-best" mode.
Black Levels & Shadow Detail
First is a seriously overexposed shot of the starship in The Fifth Element. Immediately below it, is a less overexposed version, for better comparing with the same image in older reviews. In the first image, I have left in part of the letterboxing, so you can see the basic black level more easily.
For comparison, here's the same image from the Mitsubishi HC6500.
And below is the Panasonic PT-AE3000, which slightly bests the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB:
As you can see, the Home Cinema 6500UB has a ways to go to catch the JVC RS2, in terms of black levels. The Epson's black levels however are excellent, with only two or three projectors able to do better, and none in its price range! As you can see in the two side by side pairs below, the Epson has a very distinct advantage over the Panasonic PT-AE3000. In the second pairing, the Epson and JVC RS1 are certainly very close. There's virtually no difference between them in black levels when compared to the relatively large difference between the Home Cinema 6500UB and the PT-AE3000.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB (left), Panasonic PT-AE3000 (right):
Next, the same drill, but the Epson (left), JVC DLA-RS1(right):
I also took side-by-side images with a fully black "image". There are no larger versions to click on. The interesting thing about shooting fully black "scenes" is that different projectors will close down their irises to different degrees. Just because one projector looks blacker on a black scene, does not guaranty that that projector is still blacker on a dark, but not fully black scene.
Consider four additional images which are good ones for considering black levels. Look for the richness in the black part of some of the buildings and, also, the sky, in the second image. Both of these first two, are digital hi-def images from the DVE-HD calibration disc.
The two images below are from The Dark Knight
Shadow Detail Performance
Epson home theater projectors have never been the best when it comes to revealing dark shadow detail. They tend to lose just a little bit, compared to those projectors that are a little better.
Top left: Home Cinema 6500UB, 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 6500UB, followed by the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 and the Mitsubishi HC7000. Next is the the Sony VW60. The last two in the sequence are the Panasonic PT-AE3000 and the older Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB.
The Epson does a good job on revealing details in the window shades, but more than makes up for some slight loss of darkest detail, with it's darker black levels. The slight redish background shift along the top, mostly the right side, on the Epson is visible here, but is significantly exaggerated. As we have reported before, the long time exposures for very dark scenes tend to make color shifts far more visible than in real life, which is why we also say not to be concerned about skin tones in these shots.
The difference in black level performance between the Epson and the Sanyo Z3000 immediately below it, is very dramatic. The differnce between the Epson and the Mitsubishi HC7000 and Panasonic PT-AE3000 is also visible, though less significant.
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 6500UB (top left) shows very good shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite. Next to it on the first row, is the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, Those images are followed by the Optoma HD806 and the PT-AE3000 (second row). The third row is the Mitsubishi HC7000 (left), and the Sony VPL-HW10
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. The Epson performed extremely well on this test
On the left, is the Home Cinema 6500UB, the middle, the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, 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 you will find larger images, but of the different projectors. The large images are far more overexposed, to allow a closer inspection of shadow details.
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB projector:
Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector:
Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector:
Sony VPL-HW10 projector:
InFocus IN83 projector: (a more expensive projector that I've been raving about)
Mitsubishi HC7000 projector:
Mitsubishi HC6500 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 6500UBU performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, 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 6500UB, the second is the Mitsubishi HC7000, and the last one is from the Panasonic PT-AE3000. All three are very close.
Below is a side-by-side of the same scene. The 6500UB is on the left, the Panasonic PT-AE3000 on the right. In these more overexposed images you can see the Panasonic's slight advantage in that row of shrubs on the right on the far side of the tracks.
Next is a side by side - Epson on the left, JVC RS1 on the right. This scene is from the Dark Knight:
Another good image for observing shadow detail is this very dark scene from the first National Treasure film. The Home Cinema 6500UB performs more than well enough. This image is dramatically overexposed to allow you to view the darkest shadow details. Look to any dark area in the frame, but especially in the upper right area:
Overall Color & Picture Quality
On brighter scenes the Epson 6500UB is rich and dynamic looking. It's that "wow and pop" I like to talk about. If the Epson looks really good on typical scenes like that, it really shines on darker scenes. With better black level performance than the other 3LCD projectors, and even slightly better than the entry level Sony (HW10), and approaching the JVC RS1, it's night time, and other very dark scenes are truly impressive, if not spectacular.
The post calibration color accuracy may not be the very best, but is very close. It is more than close enough to make the overall result, in my opinion, the best of the under $3000 projectors. For that matter every bit the equal or better than of many more expensive models, including the more expensive Optoma's and BenQ W20000, as well as the Sony VPL-HW10.
I have never considered the Epson 1080p projectors to be the most flim-like, the extra pop and wow factor is the trade-off. The Epson makes for great viewing, even if a touch more muted look, might be a touch more film-like.
In brightest modes, the Epson has little competition in sheer lumen output. It's Dynamic mode has the horsepower that the other 3LCD projectors lack, with only the Sanyo PLV-Z3000's dynamic mode even coming moderately close in brightness. The overall picture fidelity for the Dynamic mode, has less accurate color - too much yellow green push, than is natural, but it slices through ambient light. This mode could be further tuned, at the expense of more lumens, and if you do that, it may beat the Sanyo PLV-Z3000's dynamic mode, which I find to have the best color accuracy of any of the 3LCD projectors' brightest modes. Since Dynamic mode is for dealing with ambient light, which is going to destroy a good portion of the best of an image, the inaccuracies are a minor concern. Better a slightly off skin tone that comes through, than one a touch better on paper, but washed out by ambient light.
Epson's LivingRoom mode, which does not use the color filter that the darker modes share, still does a great job, and if calibrated makes an excellent choice for normal TV, HDTV and sports viewing, when light issues are minor. Football looked great, with good color fidelity in LivingRoom mode. Dynamic has the colors a little over the top, but that's what you want when fighting a lot of ambient light. Since I have mentioned the Sanyo, consider that the Epson's LivingRoom mode is as bright as Sanyo's Dynamic mode.
A mix of additional images to show off the Home Cinema 6500UB:
From the DTS Blu-ray test disk, consider these:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
Back to movies - here's a couple from Dogma and one from Aeon Flux:
And here are a few more images, the two from Dark Knight, followed by two from the latest Indiana Jones movie and a few assorted scenes from movies and digital video sources:
Epson Home Cinema 6500UBU Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
The images above and below are from a Moody Blues Concert that has been broadcast in HD, and is also available on Blu-ray disc. Both of these images were shot in TheaterBlack 1 mode.
Sports in particular look really good. I've logged probably 20 hours watching the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB home theater projector perform on football games (it's bowl season) and other sports. I viewed sports in both Dynamic mode, and in Living (room) mode, depending on how much ambient light I was allowing.
All the sports images shown here were taken in Livingroom mode, unless otherwise noted. The Epson has enough horsepower (lumens) in LivingRoom mode to watch football in my large theater with one of the shades open partially. By comparison, my JVC doesn't look as good, with the shades all fully down, due to half the lumens.
I tend to use either Brilliant Cinema or Living(room) modes, for most HDTV, such as watching The Tonight show, or a music video. That assumes those modes have been calibrated as well.