Epson PowerLite Pro Z8000WUNL Projector - Performance
10-5-09 -Mike Rollett
Epson PowerLite Pro Z8000WUNL Projector - Video Performance
Most multimedia projectors feature passable video performance. Video processing and black levels are usually a far cry from what you see on even lower-priced home theater projectors. Not so with the Pro Z8000. With its standard lens and being fed by an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player, the Z8000 was stunning. As I’d noticed with still photos, the depth of image was outstanding, really creating that “looking through a window” effect you look for with high definition sources.
The Theater, Dynamic and Customized modes of the Pro Z8000 can make use an auto iris, which when active, results in an improved contrast ratio (up to 5000:1). While a 5000:1 contrast ratio would be a yawner among home theater projectors, it is an excellent ratio for a projector this bright and allows for some of the better blacks I’ve seen in a multimedia projector. This contributes to a more film-like image than is normally seen with multimedia projectors. The auto iris does help to improve the otherwise grayish blacks in mixed light scenes with most video sources. While the Z8000 falls short of most home theater projectors when faced with a lot of dark scenes (something like the Blu-ray disk of The Dark Knight would not be the Z8000’s forte), it more than makes up for that deficiency with its sharpness and lifelike image. Taking a look at my old standby Blu-ray disk, The Fifth Element, skin tones were right where I’d expect them to be and the bright colors in that movie really popped.
The point is, the Epson will do an excellent job on almost any type of video presentation, be it a corporate piece, an educational documentry, or even a great movie. The Epson Pro Z8000 is fully capable, and looks particularly exceptional on all digital content, such as some HDTV documentries I viewed with the Epson. -art
For daytime TV or video viewing (like sports events), a home theater projector cannot compete with the Z8000. Its high brightness provides for a very enjoyable picture that is not washed out, as most home theater projectors would be.
Again, here is the room setup south facing windows on a sunny day, all lights on.
Video performance over an analog connection from a laptop was also quite good, as the Z8000’s upscaling is equal or better than most.
Epson PowerLite Pro Z8000WU NL Projector - Brightness
The Z8000 is rated at 6000 lumens. While the measured output will likely vary greatly depending on the lens used, I wasn’t able to achieve that level even at full wide zoom with the standard lens. This is somewhat unusual for Epson projectors, as they usually meet or exceed their rated output, but we found the same thing occurred with the G5350 as well. However, it should be mentioned that this was a pre-production model that may not be fully tweaked for optimum brightness. In Dynamic mode (the brightest), I only measured 4500 lumens at mid-zoom range. At full wide zoom, this increased to 4868 lumens. While nowhere near its 6000 lumen rating, it was still very bright. It’s unlikely that the Z8000 would have any problem displaying an image that was not washed out in any of its likely applications.
Using Presentation mode, the output dropped from 4500 to 4060 lumens. While most situations won’t call for more lumens that that, Sports mode, which equals the Dynamic mode’s 4500 lumens, is a viable option if you’re displaying video and want better color accuracy. Photo mode, another mode that might be popular, resulted in a small drop to 3800 lumens. Customized (which allows for individual adjustment of primary and secondary colors and is another possible choice) comes in at 3760 lumens. Other modes result in a large drop in output and wouldn’t be usable without good ambient light control. These are: Theater – 1820 lumens and sRGB – 1870 lumens.
Dropping the lamp into Eco mode resulted in a 25% drop in lumen output. With Dynamic or Sports mode, this still gives you about 3400 lumens, which is more than enough with some ambient light control.
I connected my laptop via HDMI and set it to display at the Z8000’s native resolution (1920 X 1200). The resulting image was excellent, as sharp and clean as any I’ve seen in a multimedia projector. While this may be due to the lens quality (which costs as much as some complete projectors), it was still impressive nonetheless. Small (8 pt.) text was sharp and easily readable at any zoom setting. This was true of white text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well. Convergence was also quite good, resulting in a nice, sharp image with all sorts of source material. Keep in mind that 8 point type shown here, is, due to the WUXGA resolution, is far smaller than 8 point type on a more typical, much lower resolution projector Figure that a projector that is XGA resolution, the same size type would be twice as tall, and twice as wide.
Switching to lower resolutions to test the Z8000’s upscaling, the image quality did not suffer in the slightest. The Z8000 can take any resolution and produce an ultra-sharp image, with no signs of color bleed in text due to misconvergence.
The Epson Z8000WUNL has a typical amount of noise for a projector of this type in high brightness mode (38 dB). While that’s not particularly quiet, it’s not likely to be an issue in almost any presenting environment you’d find the Z8000, and certainly not when presenting in the larger rooms that the Z8000's almost 5000 lumens allows. In low brightness mode, the noise level drops to 32dB, which would be imperceptible in any environment you’d likely find the Z8000. By comparison, many home theater projectors have this level of noise in their bright modes and noise is the bane of home theater enthusiasts. Basically, for a projector this bright, that is likely to be permanently installed away from viewers, the noise level is not an issue.