InFocus IN83 Darkchip4 Home Theater Projector Review: Image Quality
InFocus IN83 Image Quality Sections:
InFocus IN83 Projector; Out of the Box Picture Quality
Skin Tone Handling
IN83 Black Level Performance and Shadow Detail
Overall Image Quality (post Calibration)
IN83 for HDTV and Sports
Bottom Line Image Quality (and additional images)
InFocus IN83 Projector: Out of the Box Picture Quality
Pretty darn good, but still not as good as it could be. Nonetheless, most would be impressed with even the default Cinema settings. Skin Tones need a little work, as they are a bit low on red content, and a bit high on yellows and greens. The result is somewhat pale looking skin tones, with a very slight grayish yellow-green caste. Like the old Sony VW50, the IN83 has managed to avoid most manufacturers' tendencies to provide an oversaturated image as the default. I guess manufacturers do that based on the idea that the more color saturation, the more Pop, and Wow, even if it means less natural looking. InFocus has avoided that sin, with the IN83's defaults.
Gamma is extremely good out of the box, so, combined with superior brightness, you end up with an image that in some ways looks more like a Plasma than most projectors. To clarify that, projectors, being less than bright devices, tend to make mid-range and darker scenes (and areas in scenes) rather dark, without the brightness one would expect. With the IN83, though, everything seems naturally lit, and not darker than real life.
Please note: Images provided cannot capture the full dynamics and abilities of projectors due to limitiations of your computer monitor, my digital SLR, and other factors - so take them with a grain (or pound) of salt. Click here for more info on the limitations.
Additionally, after using my "new" Olympus dSLR (E-Volt 510), for about six months, I have finally, with this review, come up with camera settings that solve most of the minor issues, including oversaturated images. As a result of that, consider that when comparing these images to some other recent review images, that they are less saturated, but more faithfully reproducing the color and saturation seen on the projected image.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Skin Tone Handling
I just spoke about skin tones (before calibration) in the paragraphs above. Not bad, but not exceptional either. After calibration however, is a different story.
I'll keep this simple. Skin tones on the IN83 (which I'm watching right now - National Treasure (the first one), are superb. I haven't seen better to date. Even my adjusted JVC DLA-RS1 can't match them. I imagine a first class calibrator can get the newer JVC RS2, with its extra color management controls, to rival the InFocus, but I would find it hard to believe that anything under $10,000 (US) can do better, and it may be that even far more expensive projectors will come up short.
The first images are from standard DVD - Lord of the Rings, shots of Arwen and Gandalf.
Moving to Blu-ray HD, here are images of Leeloo, and Bruce Willis:
Skin tones found in Aeon Flux, are very typical, and very good:
The movie House of the Flying Daggers, is known for spectacular colors, and the IN83 handles the challenge without effort:
When considering skin tones, remember that in addition to a projector's ability to present the data accurately, there are other aspects that need to be considered, including the type of lighting. An image of a person standing outside in bright sunlight is going to have different skin tones than one in filtered light, incandescent light or fluorescent light (and so on). Further, some directors apply a caste to an entire movie, or just certain scenes. We all remember the green caste throughout the Matrix movies, and most may have noticed, that in Lord of the Rings, each part of Middle Earth, seems to have a different caste, with The Shire being overly green, Gondor being fairly neutral, the lands of the elves, with still other castes.
Here are several images of James Bond, in Casino Royale - Blu-ray disc, of course. Each represents different lighting.
Above - direct sunlight
Above - fluorescents (airport)
Above - Bond outdoors, but shaded (filtered sunlight)
Above - Bond, in an extremely dark room
As you can see, each of the Bond images produce skin tones that reflect the lighting intended, and each is significantly different. All looked extremely good, and faithful.
(Additional images can be found at the bottom of the page.)
InFocus IN83 Projector: Black Level and Shadow Detail
Black Level Performance
This is the only area (other than the InFocus, as a DLP projector, having limited placement flexibility), where the IN83 comes up a bit short. Let me be clear though, it's still one of the best, but a few others have the advantage.
Of note, since the InFocus IN83 lacks a dynamic iris, it really is at a disadvantage to projectors that do use one. Those dynamic irises, however, are most effective in extremely dark scenes with no bright areas, and there, projectors like the Epson UB series, and the Sony VW40 and VW60 should be able to produce a blacker black. Once, however, you switch to scenes that also have more than a little extremely bright areas, dynamic irises lose their effectiveness, and on images like that, the InFocus IN83 becomes the equal of most of the other best projectors. It still can't quite catch the two best projectors without dyanmic irises, the JVC RS1x and RS2, but everything else is fair game, including the Epson and Sony 1080p competitors!
For the first time in quite a while, I haven't been able to do a side by side photoshoot. My intent was to put the IN83 up against the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, for black level comparisons. Turns out, though, that the last upgrade to my Sony PS3, has confounded my Gefen HDMI splitter/switcher. They are sending me a component to upgrade, and when it comes - if it does the trick, I'll reshoot a couple of images suitable for determining black levels, and further confirm what I believe based on viewing the IN83, and from alternating between it, and the Epson, in my testing room.
This first image is from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray) - a nice dynamic, dark scene with a small area of bright white, and also bright red. This can be challenge for a projector with a dynamic iris, as it will limit how much the iris can close down. Since the IN83 does not have a dynamic iris, its black level performance is consistent, regardless of the amount of bright areas:
Another excellent dark scene, of a starship, is from The Fifth Element. The blacks are very good (although not quite up to the very best).
By comparison, here's the same image from the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB:
And one more, this time from the recent review of the JVC DLA-RS2, an LCoS projector, and the projector that has, so far, exhibited the best black levels of any projector reviewed (this JVC image is a bit more overexposed than the others).
A last space scene, from Space Cowboys - first, the IN83, then a side by side of the Epson and the Sony VW40 (Epson on the left):
Here's an interesting new image from The 5th Element. The first image below is the IN83, the second one, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB. The difference in color saturation is evident, with the Epson being more saturated. Note, though, the more natural color of the starship in the IN83 photo. The reddish gas clouds on the Epson are a little "over the top". Black levels look fairly similar, with a slight edge to the Epson, while shadow detail in the IN83 is as least as good as the Epson, especially as you can see that the Epson image is slightly brighter.
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Shadow Detail Performance
Shadow detail is excellent! Not a complaint here at all. It definitely is doing a an even better job than the Epson UB projector, but then, the Epson isn't the best at shadow detail, although it is very good, as commented in its review. The combination of way better than average black level abilities, processing, and settings are scooping out just about all the shadow details I could expect. Remember, that there isn't a direct correlation between black levels and shadow detail performance. Some projectors with extraordinary black levels may only be good at shadow detail.
One of my favorite images for comparison, is this very dark scene from Space Cowboys, of Clint Eastwood having a beer - in a room only lit by a down-facing desktop lamp:
Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB:
Of the two images above, note that the exposures are almost identical (about as close as it gets), and colors are similar - although the Epson is more saturated (as noted - it relates to camera settings, in this case, not the actual screen image). Of particular note, however, is that this dark scene - with no really bright areas, is ideal for projectors with dynamic irises like the Epson. You can see that the blacks of the shades are blacker on the Epson. The difference is very slight, but an accurate reflection of the performance of the two projectors. In scenes with lots of bright mixed with lots of dark, the IN83 seems to have the slightest advantage over the Epson, but in all dark scenes, the Epson does a slightly better job. That said, you can also see that the InFocus is doing a slightly better job on shadow details - note the faint vertical lines of the shades, just to the right of Clint's hand. The Epson's handling of them fades completely by the top of the screen, while the InFocus has no problem at all.
The JVC above (the projector I own) does a great job on shadow detail, and even better on black. This image, however is a bit darker than the Epson or InFocus IN83, so the camera picks up less details in dark areas. (You can detect the difference in brightness of the images by looking at the top of Clint's palm). With the JVC, there is still some skin tone, while they are blown out by the camera's limitations on the InFocus image.
Below we have six "thumbnails" of this cropped HD scene from Space Cowboys. Click on each for an overexposed version. Look to the satellite on the left for dark shadow details. By row, starting top left:
IN83, Epson Home and Pro Cinema 1080 UB, Sony VW60, JVC RS1, JVC RS2, Sony VW40
The re-entry image below is intentionally heavily overexposed. Look for details in the dark right side of planet earth. On the left, the IN83, on the right, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB.
Next is a series of the Casino image at night, from Bond's Casino Royale.
InFocus IN83 projector:
(Note, all six images below are the same, and represent well, how the building is lit up. Clicking on each brings up the higher resolution, and dramatically overexposed versions that allows you to compare shadow detail abilities in the dark areas. Look to the roof tiles, and the trees on the left.)
The InFocus IN83 has no problem with this mixed brightness scene. None of the other projectors can best it in showing the details in the extremely dark roof, the lawn and trees.
Sony VPL-VW40 projector:
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB projector:
Sony VPL-VW60 projector:
JVC DLA-RS2 projector:
These next two images are found in almost all reviews. Click for large, and seriously overexposed versions of the thumbnails. You can look to the dark areas of the shed on the right, plants along the bottom, and the wood structure on the left, to compare shadow detail.
Click on left thumbnail image for the IN83, middle for the Viewsonic, and the right for the JVC DLA-RS2.
A few other images that are good for considering shadow detail:
Above: Sin City (standard DVD)
Above: Bond, on the verge of death in his Aston Martin
Above, from Aeon Flux
The image above is from Lord of the Rings - a vision. This is the first time I've successfully captured the image well, and hope to start using this image in future reviews for comparison.
Next is a great image from Casino Royale from the black and white like beginning. Look for the details in the cabinetry in the back of the room. You can find this intentionally overexposed image in several other recent reviews. The IN83 performs extremely well:
Below, is the night train scene from Casino Royale. It is somewhat overexposed so you can look for the actual details the projector reveals in the countryside, notably in the right side of the image:
One last image, from Aeon Flux. Look for the shadow detail in the table top, and other dark areas:
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InFocus IN83 Projector: Sharpness
The IN83 is another really sharp projector. It is definitely sharper than the Epson Home and Pro Cinema 1080 UB projectors, as well as the Sony and JVC LCoS projectors. While a sharper under $10K projector may exist, the differences would be too slight to have any impact on a buyer's decision making.
Top left: InFocus IN83, Top Center, Sony VPL-VW60, Top right: Panasonic PT-AE2000U
I think the monitor image below is one of the best possible examples of sharpness, as it is just the type of thing you see in many movies, very small type in a "real" setting. The difference between projectors may actually let you read some items that softer projectors just can't resolve. More likely, though, you'll just have that feeling of a sharper, crisper image.
Left: InFocus IN83, Center: Viewsonic Pro8100, Right: JVC RS2, Below Epson UB
Bottom Line Sharpness: First class! If I gave out letter grades it would be an A (bordering on A+?)
InFocus IN83 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
Let's just say for now, that all those lumens, plus surprisingly excellent picture quality in brightest mode, made for excellent viewing. I got to watch a lot of US Olympic trials, some other sports, and plenty of HDTV in general.
First of all, in brightest mode, not only is the color better and more natural than most other projectors when you are squeezing out maximum lumen, but the IN83 is definitely one of the brightest out there in the 1080p projector category (without jumping to $10,000+). In brightest mode, only the Optoma HD81-LV can out muscle it, and not by much. The Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB can't quite stay with the IN83 at it's brightest, but we're talking about 1900 vs. the Epson's 1700. Thing is, the InFocus has better color too. Of course when it comes to best modes the InFocus is twice as bright as the Epson.
OK, with all those lumens, I got to try opening the motorized shades on my French doors for the first time in a long while (sun pours in). Not great, but considering I've only ever tried than with maybe 2 other projectors in over 100 reviews..
Here, first, is a shot of the room with them open, and the screen definitely looks pretty washed out. Keep in mind, though, that my Firehawk by its nature, is more sensitive to light from the left side, when viewing for far to the right.
Here's another shot of the screen, but from straight back, same lighting:
As you can see, it looks much better, (and even more so in reality), but I still wouldn't leave the blinds fully open for viewing, too much light. So, next, I closed both of them half way. A definite improvement:
That looks better in the pictures, and in reality, this lighting was very watchable, with the room still pretty bright.
Next, - as you can see, is blinds open to the 1/4 point. Even way off angle, very watchable.
Here's a straight on photo of the screen, with that same lighting. Nice!:
I also viewed and photographed with the blinds fully shut and the ceiling lights on with moderate brightness. I set the exposure for the image on the screen, so the room looks definitely darker than in real life.:
OK, you get the idea, the IN83 has no problem with ambient light levels that would devastate about half the projectors out there, and would give most of the rest, trouble.
Let's now look at a few more images with blinds down, and ceiling lights on about half way (bright enough to read, but you'd probably like it brighter).
You can click on the next two images below for a larger versions:
Moving beyond sports, the IN83, if possible, does even better with regular HDTV content, thanks to the great color:
The image above is from M-HD, their Bon Jovi/Sugarland concert.
Above, Pete Townsend, from a Who concert on M-HD.
The image of Jay Leno, above, was shot with the shades 1/4 open, and lights on. Not bad!
Definitely, the IN83 is a kick-ass projector for sports viewing, and HDTV in general. I love all those lumens, combined with a great picture. My JVC RS1, I do believe, is insanely jealous. It may easily best the IN83 in black levels, but when you aren't in the dark, no comparison.
InFocus IN83 Projector: Overall Image Quality
The Infocus IN83 is a tough one to beat when it comes to overall image quality. I've already raved about skin tones, impressed you with extremely good (but a few are better) black levels, and first class shadow detail. When brightness is weighed into the equation, the IN83 gets tough to beat. For your consideration:
Animation almost always looks great on projectors, but the IN83 was spectacular on Cars. Below, are a few from House of the Flying Daggers:
From the DTS sampler disc:
And from the Planet Earth series on Blu-ray:
Back to standard DVD (SD-DVD), from Sin City (most of the movie is very dark):
And of course, back to Space Cowboys:
InFocus IN83 Projector: Bottom Line
Outstanding! The InFocus rivals the best projectors at shadow detail, and at overall color handling it's the best yet. Sporting extra sharpness, and twice the brightness compared to our Best in Class (under $10,000) champ, the JVC RS2, will have the InFocus IN83 definitely winning over many fans of the RS2. And that's despite the RS2's "better than everyone elses" black levels.
The InFocus, simply does it all well, no, rather it seems to do everything spectacularly (except for merely being extremely good at black levels). There is a point where a slight improvement in black levels (often referred to as the "Holy Grail" of home theater projectors), is less important that superiority in other areas.
And that is exactly where the InFocus IN83 sits, among the competition when it comes to overall picture quality.
A few more images for your consideration (I took them, so you might as well look at them.)