Epson Pro Cinema 6020 Projector - Image Quality
This image page is identical to that in the Home Cinema 5020 review, due to the fact that these two projectors are effectively identical, in terms of anything that affects image quality. Most of the images below were taken using the 5020. 6020 images are indicated.
1/27/2013 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 5020 Out of the Box Picture Quality
It's BAAACK! No, not the Terminator, but rather, the THX mode is back. Without debating reasons, last year's Epson lacked the THX mode that had been on its predecessor, the HC8700UB.
Before I go on, the usual warning about the photos in this review:
A lot goes on in delivering these images to your eyeballs: There's the projected image, and 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 HC5020 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 5020 will look far better in your darkened theater, than these images on your computer monitor.
Back to the Epson Home Cinema 5020 review:
What does THX mean to you? The THX mode is a mode who's color performance meets THX quality standards. Only a few projectors offer this. Lacking a THX mode, doesn't mean poor color by any means. Last year's Cinema mode was pretty darn good.
Still, the THX mode looks excellent. It is a touch cool, measuring on average about 7000K, rather than 6500K (the ideal), but the primaries are all nicely balanced and it looks great. Mike's calibration lowers the color temp, but overall, the quality difference is very slight.
Dynamic mode definitely has that classic over the top green, so typical of projectors in their brightest mode. Also very bright, but not that bright is Living Room mode which is very cool, but looks great on sports, etc. Simply lowering the color temp setting a bit, further improves Living Room, without any calibration.
Epson Home Cinema 5020 Projector - Flesh Tones
Skin tones looked really good in THX mode. Post calibration (which is based on THX) for the "best mode" is even better, with reds having a bit more strength.
Skin tones look very natural. Perhaps not the absolute best (I'll give the Sony HW50ES the slightest edge based on some side-by-side viewing, but without side by side, I'd have a tough time finding fault with the Epson. If anything, the Sony is a touch stronger on reds, than the Epson, but it really is two projectors both calibrated very close to the ideal. Neither looks perfect side by side, while both look very close to that, when viewed alone.
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.
Bottom Line on skin tones: Extremely good, yet still not the absolute best.
For the next Bond image - two photos, the first, the Epson Home Cinema 5020 UB, the second, the recently reviewed PT-AE8000:
They are definitely very similar, with the slight difference in the exposure (and an apparent difference in sharpness), being the most significant difference.
More images we like for considering skin tones:
The image above looks particularly excellent. Consider that it is from the movie Hugo which has a "brownish" caste to the movie.
And that concludes our skin tones images.
Epson Home Cinema 5020 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
For six generations, Epson has been the black level champ among the mid-price level projectors.
Nothing has changed in that regard. Well, not quite. The Epson still has a distinct black level advantage over the likes of the BenQ W7000, Panasonic PT-AE8000, Sharp XV-Z30000 and other competitors. The closest - a virtual tie, would be the Sony HW50ES. The Epson wins in most viewing but usually by a very small amount. On a couple of scenes though the Sony matches, and perhaps beats the Epson. Those two projectors are close enough to say "doesn't matter".
With all the others, the Epson's advantage is enough to be a real advantage when you are purchasing!
Let's start with a side by side image: Epson HC5020 vs. Sony HW50ES (Epson on the left)
Click to enlarge. So close. I got the exposures almost identical. You can see the slightest advantage in the blacks favoring the Epson (note the letter box area, stars on the left side). These two are so close not to matter on this image.
Epson Home Cinema 5020:
PT-AE8000: The lower image is a bit less overexposed making it tough to spot any real improvement in the HC5020.
Sony VPL-HW50ES: A little more overexposed making it hard to compare.
Optoma HD8300: Very nice, offers slightly better blacks than the Panasonic, (and probably a touch shy of the Sony?)
Epson Home Cinema 5010 ($2699, being replaced) the black level champ in the price range. The Epson Home Cinema 5020 for its improvements still comes up visibly, but not dramatically short.
Optoma HD33 (lower cost, $1499 3D capable projector): Blacks are not as good as the Panny, the image is less overexposed.
JVC DLA-RS45: Comparable blacks or better, and with out using a dynamic iris. The HD250 is now discontinued.
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.
Sharp XV-Z30000 (direct competitor):
Shadow Detail Performance
Look at the shrubs on the right, on the far side of the tracks. Compare detail in the trees also on the right.
When you do, you will see that the Epson's black levels are rather excellent, besting or matching that of most of the competition. This is an area where Epson has dramatically improved over the years. And they've done so while maintaining their black level advantage!
As alway, ignore color shifts, long time exposures (up to 30 seconds, create problems).
Epson Home Cinema 5020:
Epson Home Cinema 3010: A lower cost projector ($1599), not an ultra-high contrast projector.
Optoma HD33: Another lower cost projector
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: HC5020 Projector - Bottom Line
Excellent and Excellent. Certainly blacks are as good as it gets until we get to some much more expensive projectors. While I'm less concerned about whether a projector has exceptional detail (this Epson) or just really good (such as the HW50ES), the Epson seems unmatched so far. Mike has calibrated all these projectors. Not one of them seems to be able to best the Epson at either blacks, or Shadow detail.
I do not believe any projector we've reviewed in the under $3500 price range can match the performance of blacks and dark shadow detail of the Home Cinema 5020 UB projector this year. (UB stands for "Ultra Black")
The bottom line: Overall picture quality is not going to sway you away from this projector. From the standpoint of picture quality, the Home Cinema 5020, the Epson pretty much as to be on everyone's short list. In the under $3500 price range, if you are not choosing this projector it's more likely to be something not related, such as the desire for motorized lens features, or that it's in a mostly white case instead of black.
Epson Home Cinema 5020 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
Overall, the Epson puts a rather spectacular picture up on the screen, considering the price point. There is real competition, the one that can match the Epson is the Sony, but that's about it in the price range. Sure, there are far more expensive projectors - consider the more expensive Sony VPL-VW95ES, which has superb color, and even better blacks. JVC's almost $8000 projector beats the Epson at blacks, and also comes with a THX mode...
That said, combine this projector's color accuracy (even before calibration) and merge that with both great blacks and excellent shadow detail, and you have an Epson HC5020 UB that doesn't have to take lessons from any competitor, when it comes to overall picture quality.
Add brightness into the factor...
A mix of additional images to show off the Epson Home Cinema 5020:
Here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Epson Home Cinema 5020 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports, including 3D
We had controlled light coming in from side and rear windows though partially closed shutters. I used the same approximate lighting as in the Panasonic PT-AE8000 review, as the two projectors are near identical in brightness.
The image to the right shows the back of the room. (taken stnading between the screen and the window next to it. It was a sunny day, and the outer room seen there is lit by a large sky light. You can also make out most of my recessed lighting (all 65 watt equivalent LED down facing flood lights.
In the case of the Epson HC5020 UB, however, for most of my HDTV and Sports viewing, rather than use the Dynamic mode, rather, instead, the not quite as bright Living Room mode. (I basically used it's default color related settings, except for lowering Color Temp from 7500 to 7000K.
That was true, even when watching NFL game mix where I actually expand the image beyond the 124" diagonal when watching 8 games at once. I just never needed Dynamic mode.
Check out some images from football, and other HDTV content: All the sports content was shot with those rear lights on. Most of the other HDTV content was shot with the lights off, unless noted otherwise.
Epson Home Cinema 5020 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports, and also 3D HDTV content
Nothing better for HDTV and sports than a really bright projector with good color. CFI is there for sports viewing. I turned it on low, and I forget about it.
Detail enhancement: Wow, even with HDTV - which means a heavily compressed signal, which means lots of noise, this image looks stunning! Super Resolution was only set to 3 for this image.
Next we get into some numbers, as we explore the brightness and other info of the Home Cinema 5020's various modes, and also discusss sharpness, and image noise.