InFocus SP8602 Projector - Image Quality
InFocus SP8602 images below are from either Blu-ray, or HDTV. The one excepton is Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). These images are not overly accurate in terms of color, and other aspects as well. They are most helpful relative to shadow detail, black level performance, and sharpness. The SP8602 projector invariably looks much better than what you see here, and different too. There are color shifts, saturation differences, etc.
More images to come, a few important ones still missing.
03/28/2010 - Art Feierman
SP8602 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Find the right preset mode, and the InFocus SP8602 looks very good out of the box. (You'll find what appear to be business/education type presets (Presentation, Blackboard, White Board), as well as home theater oriented ones (such as Video, and the adjustable user modes User, ISF Day, ISF Night). And there's even Beige wall, which I figure could be home or business/education.
Preset modes like Video don't allow full adjustments, but User and ISF Day and Night, do. For example, you can't adjust color saturation in Video (but you can do brightness and contrast).
Let's get back to the "Out of the Box" picture quality: Yes, it's pretty impressive. The color is pretty consistent from white, down to the darkest levels. It is, though just a little cool - thin on red. Remember, just a little.
The image immediately below is an all digital image from the DVE test disc.
Quite honestly, Mike's calibration of the SP8602 resulted in a great picture. Still, I don't think over all, that the colors are quite as excellent as the InFocus IN83 projector, which I had here for a very long time, but never managed to put another projector up against it that had better, more natural color. That said, after his calibration I'd have to say the SP8602, in terms of skin tones, may well be the next best (in fairness, how perfect, will depend on what approach the calibrator takes).
Gandalf really looks about as close to dead on, as you can hope for. On the actual projected image, the color is a little different, as in, just a touch less green. The original did a beautiful gray for the background walls, without the slight green you see in the walls on this photo.
My JVC RS20 hasn't been calibrated in many, many hundreds of hours. It still does great skin tones, but the lamp has lost a touch of red... Switching back and forth, the SP8602 definitely has the edge on my JVC, at least for now... It should be very close if both were recently calibrated.
That said, in the JVC lineup, the DLA-RS15 (which doesn't have the full CMS controls of the more expensive ones), definitely can't quite match the InFocus, overall, in terms of skin tones. I spent a fair amount of time with the two of them, side by side. Consider (InFocus on the left):
Next are our usual three images (including the same one as above), 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, fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three images, the first in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with fluorescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade - indirect lighting.
Next an image from the sci-fi flick, Star Trek:
Quantum of Solace:
The two images immediately below, (Blazing Saddles and Dark Knight), were taken with the InFocus SP8602.
Lau, above, from The Dark Knight, really does look great on the screen, it's a good skin tone image, and the JVC really handled it well.
InFocus SP8602 Projector: Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Really good, and outstanding! The InFocus SP8602 Black level performance turns out to be most impressive, but definitely a still not up to the best (JVC RS25/RS35). The Screen Play 8602 is definitely what I call an "ultra-high contrast" projector. The dark shadow detail performance is about as good as I've seen!
InFocus SP8602 Black Level Performance
The SP8602 projector has an iris that can be used dynamically or set to any of 10 manual settings 10% - 100%. For best overall dynamics and blacks (overall, not on every frame), the iris is used dynamically.
When doing side by side viewing with other projectors (the JVC RS15 and RS35, and the Epson 8500UB/9500UB), I got a very good feel for the InFocus. JVC need fear not, the SP8602 cannot match, even on the very darkest scenes, the blacks of the least expensive of the JVCs, the RS15, but it can come close. The JVC projectors still stand unmatched for blacks, by achieving the blackest blacks around without using a dynamic iris, and without having to compress bright areas (as is the effect of a dynamic iris on some mixed scenes).
That's OK, though! The InFocus may not match the JVC in terms of blacks, but its blacks are very good even for the price. They are beyond that threshold where I believe most enthusiasts would agree that further improving blacks may not be as important (too some) as some other things (sharpness, brightness, color fidelity).
Image time: First is our usual seriously overexposed shot of the starship in The Fifth Element. Note, that with this heavy level of overexposure, the blacks in the image and the letterbox are still not dramatically brighter than black, if you compare it to the image right below. Immediately below it, is a less overexposed version, which is also better for comparing with the same image in older reviews.
In this first image, I have left in part of the letterboxing, so you can see the basic black level more easily. Immediately below, from The Fifth Element, our favorite starship image - overexposed. Followed by the same image at a more normal exposure.
Below is the Sony VPL-VW85 a more expensive projector, also using a dynamic iris:
For comparison, here's the same image from the JVC RS25.
Next, the Panasonic PT-AE4000, which isn't quite as good as the InFocus, but can come close.
The side by side viewing with the Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB (identical performance to the Home Cinema 8500UB) was most enlightening. For those of you reading multiple reviews, you probably know I consider the Epson "UB" projectors to have the best blacks of any projectors under $4K. InFocus vs. Epson was close, but overall, the Epson has the advantage. Because different projector models irises, have different actions and behavior, there were some scenes where the InFocus was at least as good as the Epson, but more often, the Epson showed the advantage. In the grand scheme of things, I'd say that the InFocus is about half way between the Panasonic PT-AE4000 (another "ultra-high" contrast projector), and the Epson, but closer to the Epson. That's still pretty darn good blacks.
OK, here's what you've been waiting to see: InFocus vs. JVC and InFocus vs. Epson side-by-side images. In all cases, InFocus SP8602 on the left. First two, vs. InFocus, last two, vs. Epson. All these images are overexposed to one degree or another. That makes differences easier to see.
The first two images are pretty clear cut. The JVC's blacks are distinctly blacker in the first set (Note, I was able to get these two projectors very close in brightness.)
In the second image, the planet and sky remain the same brightness, but both get brighter on the InFocus. This is because the iris is opening up a bit. In summary, the InFocus in the very darkest of scenes, can come close to the JVC, but in mostly dark scenes, the black level difference is greater.
Now it's time to take on the Epson. Note: The closest I could get the two projectors in brightness was with the InFocus lamp set to low power, but that left the epson a little brighter.
This time, both use dynamic irises. Once again, the InFocus SP8602 performs superbly on the darkest scenes (where you need the best performance), on par with the Epson at its best. It does lighten up (open the iris) more than the Epson though as you get to slightly brighter scenes. That makes the difference is much greater on the second scene with the bright shuttle impacting the two projectors' irises differently. If you measure the whites in this image, they are about equal in brightness, but the Epson definitely manages the blacker blacks. While you are observing these two, again remember that the Epson is just a little brighter to begin with with our settings for this shot, yet it's blacks are definitely blacker on the shuttle frame.
That's ok though. The InFocus easily beats the Epson at a number of other important areas.
These two all digital images images are good ones for considering black levels and dark shadow detail. 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.
Shadow Detail Performance
The InFocus shadow detail was really excellent. It easily bested the Epson in a side by side comparison of dark shadow detail, and had a slight edge over the JVC. I don't think you are going to get noticeably better than this. (Note, dynamic controls
But seriously, it's image time. Consider:
Below, InFocus SP8602 on the left, JVC RS15 on the right. The $5000 InFocus is definitely one of the RS15's direct competitors. Look to the trees and shrubs on the far right, beyond the train tracks.
In this image above projected on the screen, the JVC looks a tad more dynamic, but if you look at those shrubs, the InFocus is definitely showing a bit more detail.
Same scene again, InFocus on the left, Epson "UB" on the right. The InFocus definitely reveals more dark shadow detail:
Below are more images for shadow detail and black levels compared to many of the other 1080p projectors out there.
The first 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 and colors, as in these types of overexposed photos, some up to 60 seconds. Colors and contrast ususual looks terrible on this very dark shot of Clint Eastwood. I do mention elsewhere the slight green-blue in the dark areas. They are much exaggerated here, but you can see that the other projectors exhibit less green in the walls.
First image is the InFocus, followed by the JVC DLA-RS15, then the Sony VPL-VW85, and the Mitsubishi HC7000. The last two in the sequence are the Panasonic PT-AE4000 and the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB.
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The SP8602 (top left) shows very respectable shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite. Next to it on the first row, is the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB/Pro Cinema 9500UB, Those images are followed by the Optoma HD8600 and the Sony VPL-VW85 (second row). The third row is the Mitsubishi HC7000 (left), and the Sony VPL-HW15.
On the left, is the InFocus SP8602, the middle, the JVC RS15, and on the right, the VPL-VW85. The exposures are all a little different, but you should be able to appreciate the combination of shadow detail and dark blacks
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 SP8602 performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the InFocus SP8602, PT-AE4000 in the center, and the right for the Sony VPL-VW85.
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. This scene is all dark, so it allows projectors with dynamic irises to get the most benefit from them. That makes this image a good one to see how close some projectors with dynamic irises can get, at their best. In order: InFocus SP8602, JVC RS15, RS25, Sony VW85, Epson 8500UB/9500UB, Mitsubishi HC7000, and Optoma HD8600.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
I raved about the color accuracy. The InFocus shadow detail is equally excellent. Mix in black level performance that is solid "ultra-high" contrast, and you get one stunning image on your screen. As an added bonus, the InFocus has that DLP look and feel, which to me seems to translate to richer dark colors, and in this case, more "pop" than some of the competition, notably more than the Sony VW85, but also my JVC RS20, and with it the newer RS25.
I've watched a lot of movies on the SP8602 by now. The skin tones always look great, and that's the ultimate test. If you get pretty faithful, natural looking skin tones. It's unlikely you'll have any other color issues. From a color, and overall picture standpoint, the InFocus SP8602 pleases, and it does it with a healthy amount of lumens backing it up.
I do want to comment about Brilliant Color. The difference between Brilliant Color off and on, on this projector isn't as great as with some others. There's a 35% brightness difference, but the most important point, is that with many DLP projectors, sometimes Brilliant Color takes a scene a bit over the top. Not terrible, just noticeable, such as a little too much contrast in faces. The InFocus looks really good with Brilliant Color on. The naturalness of the picture does improve slightly when you turn Brilliant Color off.
Below find a number of additional images, but remember, HDTV and Sports are covered below these images.
From the DVE-HD test disc:
Back to movies: From Dark Knight, followed by two from an old favorite movie of mine: Blazing Saddles, plus a few assorted scenes from movies and digital video sources:
InFocus SP8602 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
The SP8602 has slightly more than average brightness in its brightest modes, when mounted typically. Mount it a little higher, and closer, and it's a light cannon, pushing well over 1500 lumens in brightest mode (few home theater projectors achieve 1500 lumens in any mode). Like many projectors the InFocus doesn't get a huge jump in lumens going to its brightest mode (but it starts brighter than most). It's mostly a case of boosting brightness at the expense of best picture quality. The thing is, you don't get that much more brightness, but you also get much better color than most other projector's brightest mode.
As a result it's really good for sports. Sure you can always want more lumens, but the InFocus does a great job with sports. I should note that I usually leave their CFI - SmoothMotion, on low, for sports.
I will generally recommend not using the dynamic iris with HDTV (movies on HDTV excepted). It's more noticeable than many projectors. Not as bad as some irises, but not one of the better ones, either. Update: June 2010: The new firmware has improved the the iris action - see my blog about it.
I find that the the slight uneveness of the dynamic iris might as well be skipped if the content doesn't have a fair amount of dark scenes. I should also mention that when testing the SP8602, I was able to boost the contrast by 5 to 7 in the menu, getting some more brightness out, with very little crushing of the nearest whites. Thus, I believe there's another 50+ lumens under the hood, that Mike woudn't measure since he does his with the Brightness and Contrast optimally adjusted.
"Best" mode or "brightest", the InFocus looks really good on sports. And if possible, even better on Discovery HD...