JVC DLA-RS15 Projector - Image Quality
JVC DLA-RS15 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, or some other aspects. They are most helpful relative to shadow detail, black level performance, and sharpness. The DLA-RS15 projector invariably looks much bette than what you see here, and different too. There are color shifts, saturation differences, etc.
More images to come, a couple of important ones still missing.
03/8/2010 - Art Feierman
DLA-RS15 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Very good, yet, can be much improved! Oh, it's true, put on Cinema 1 and most folks will just go wow. Those of us looking for pretty accurate color, and a higher level of performance though will definitely appreciate a calibration. Unlike the more expensive JVC projectors, the RS15 does not have a pre-calibrated THX mode. So, drop in our calibration settings, or better yet, get thee to a calibrator!
The image immediately below is an all digital image from the DVE test disc.
With our calibration giving us a much more accurate, and more consistent color temperature, the skin tones of the RS15 are looking to be truly excellent. The projector just looks vibrant on skin tones. Not the dark vibrant, that is associated (by me) with the DLP "look and feel" but more of a mid and bright range vibrance. In this regard, it is more vibrant than even the more expensive JVCs, which seem a touch "dark" overall, by comparison. Those blacker blacks add that slightly "darkish look" element to the pricier JVCs, which is just killer on dark scenes, but the RS15 has a "lighter" feel on most other scenes. (I hope that makes sense? -art)
Gandalf looked just awesome on the screen. This image doesn't begin to capture the essence.
Next are our usual three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale, under different lighting conditions. (These were all taken with the RS25 projector.)
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 are images from the sci-fi flick, Aeon Flux:
From Men In Black (RS25 images):
See what I mean about "vibrant"?
Quantum of Solace:
The two images immediately below from Blazing Saddles and Dark Knight, were taken with the JVC DLA-RS15.
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.
JVC RS15 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Long before the new RS25 and RS35 hit the market, there was the first ultra high contrast JVC projector, the RS1. Three years ago, the RS1 didn't just raise the bar, on black level performance, it blew away everything on the market (but CRT projectors of course). The RS15 is the RS1 - 3 generations later. It's better, slightly better in terms of blacks. I had an RS1, and while the RS15 is definitely better than my old RS1 at blacks, it's still closer to the RS1 than the more expensive current RS25.
That is to say, the RS15 doesn't have the best blacks.
The RS15's blacks are excellent, though, with perhaps only one or two other non JVC projectors that can even challenge it. (I'm thinking specifically the Sony VW85 and the Planar PD8150, but both use dynamic irises.)
Even my lower cost favorite projector, the Epson 8500UB / 9500UB, on its best day, can't match the RS15's blacks. Not even on the dark scenes with no bright areas that give a dynamic iris it's best environment.
The problem with the RS15, is that it's a half way projector.
It's about halfway between the best lower cost projectors, and the best (RS25 and RS35), when it comes to blacks.
Those like me, who demand great black performance are torn. Yes, I got by just fine with my RS1, but, nice as the RS15 is, I want RS20/25 calibre black performance.
I'm not sure how many people considering, say the Epson 8500UB on the low end and the RS25 at the top, will decide to compromise in the middle with the RS15. Well, officially $2500 less than the RS25 will certainly help.
Image time: First is our usual seriously overexposed shot of the starship in The Fifth Element. Note, that even with this ridiculous 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.
Wait - the starship images from the RS15 will be added shortly!
Below, the Sony again, but normally exposed, and for comparison, a number of other projectors
For comparison, here's the same image more normally exposed, from the JVC RS25.
Next, the Panasonic PT-AE4000, which isn't really a match for the JVC, but one respectable, feature laden projector for $2000:
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.
Side by side images will be added shortly!
Shadow Detail Performance
Not the best but very, very, good is how I describe the DLA-RS15's dark shadow detail abilities.
The RS15, may not match the best at revealing dark shadow detail, but it is close. It's definitely better than the Epson 8500UB which I use as a reference, as a projector who's shadow detail performance is acceptable, yet still below other projectors. When compared to projectors with excellent dark shadow detail, the RS15 is close. Definitely closer to the best, than to the definitely acceptable Epsons.
In other words. It's fine. Next!
But seriously, it's image time. Consider:
And Consider this: Regarding dark shadow detail, working against the JVC RS15 are its inherently excellent black levels. That means that the same near blacks on the JVC will be darker than on a projector with inferior black level performance. That also means that the detail may be there, just harder to see, simply because it's darker. I've owned the older RS20 for almost a year, and have no problem with JVC's dark shadow detail performance.
All that said, the RS15, isn't quite in the same league in blacks as my RS20, or the RS25. As a result, it's dark shadow detail is actually a little better than the more expensive JVCs.
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.
Below are groups of images, showing the JVC's performance on 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, as in these types of overexposed photos they always look terrible). 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 JVC DLA-RS25, 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 DLA-RS15 (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 JVC DLA-RS15, the middle, the Epson 8500UB/9500UB, 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 DLA-RS15U performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the JVC DLA-RS15, 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. The first image is the RS-25, the second is the Sony VW85, followed by the Epson 9500UB, the Mitsuishi HC7000 and the last one is from the Optoma HD8600.
The first three, the RS15, the RS25 and the Sony VW85. Note, although the VW85 supports improved blacks this year, you can see here, it really still isn't up to the JVC RS25, but is right there with the RS15. 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, to the RS15.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
Beautiful would probably a good word to describe the JVC DLA-RS15's general picture quality. Any minor imperfections in color accuracy are more than made up for by the the well saturated colors, and some of the blackest blacks around, resulting in a vibrant, very pleasing image. It's so like my old RS1. I can fully appreciate the more expensive JVC's, but like my RS1, the JVC RS15 gets you 90% of the way there, and that's something to behold, on your screen.
It's hard not to dwell on the other JVC's while writing this. So consider please that I also spent a little time with the JVC sitting next to the new InFocus SP8602 (the next review). In the side by side, the InFocus has the slightly more precise color, and a touch better skin tones, but either of them look about equally good, alone.
If you are hard core, you might demand more than the RS15 can deliver in overall color handling, but I can tell you this, I could get by pretty well with the RS15, if I didn't have my RS20. Enough said.
Below a number of additional images, but remember, HDTV and Sports are covered below these images.
From the DVE-HD test disc:
Back to movies - here's a couple from from Aeon Flux:
And here are a few more images, the two 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:
The very bottom line: Skin tones are very natural, overall color accuracy is very good, but not the very best. There's a slightest addition of teal to what I think should be pretty standard blue. Not much, but enough that it's visible in side by sides with the other JVC projectors. I believe this ties to the slight blue green push in the very dark areas. When it's all over and done with, this JVC if anything is a touch more vibrant on bright scenes than the other JVCs. I'd say the RS15 is, overall, well described by vibrant, rich colors. How's that sound?
JVC DLA-RS15 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
With only 100 lumens difference between "best and brightest" It's tempting to just use "best" mode for sports. That said, you probably won't do that. The picture quality of the RS15 in "brightest" mode, is almost as good. Pick whichever works for you.
The main thing is that the RS15 doesn't have an overly bright mode. with barely 750 lumens (zoom at mid-point), it comes in well below average in brightest mode comparisons (consider average about 1000 lumens).
The main downside, is that the JVC doesn't have a whole lot of lumens to spare if you want some ambient light around when watching, be it sports or some interesting HD programming.
As a JVC owner, this is a problem I appreciate. Every football weekend (or the Olympics), I fire up my JVC and wish it had an extra 500 lumens. Still, I do get by fairly well, and that's with a nice, big, 128" diagonal screen!
The other item worth mentioning is sharpness. The JVC is very typical of a 1080p projector, but, the sharper single chip DLP's do take sharpness up one small level, and it is best appreciated on nice all digital content like sports and Discovery HD. You can work the detail enhancement to improve the appearance of sharpness. Still you can only add a little before you start seeing the affects elsewhere, as with most controls.