JVC DLA-RS20 Projector - Image Quality
JVC DLA-RS20 images below are from either Blu-ray, or HDTV, with the exception of Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). These images are not overly accurate compared to the image the DLA-RS20 projector projects on the screen. There are color shifts (too much yellow, in this case), saturation differences, etc.
The images are provided to support the commentary, so don't read too much into them, such as expecting an exact reproduction of skin tones. In reality, the projectors always look better than the images in our reviews. From a color standpoint, my dSLR camera still adds a very slight green shift I have not been able to completely remove.
1/26/2009 - Art Feierman
DLA-RS20 Out of the Box Picture Quality
I was surprised by the performance, right out of the box. It definitely could be better. The Cinema 2 mode leaves much to be desired (Cinema 1 is optimized for black and white movies, and we didn't pay much attention to it). Fortunately, the RS20's THX mode does a really good job, right out of the box, although it can definitely be improved upon. THX mode, however allows for very little adjustments (Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness), but no grayscale adjustments or access to the CMS (color management system). Take one home, and, until you get it properly calibrated, THX will give you the best results. I found THX, however, to not deliver the best black level performance that the RS20 is capable of, and the image lacks pop.
After calibrating and tweaking the JVC DLA-RS20, skin tones improved and we ended up with skin tones that we liked even better than THX mode, although they are pretty similar. I was really loving the skin tone handling until I put the RS20 up, side by side with the InFocus IN83, which has the best looking skin tones of any projector I have worked with. Side by side, the IN83 still gets the slight advantage, but again, the RS20 only really comes up a little short by direct comparison.
While most projectors with good skin tones do differ from one another, they all tend to look very good during normal viewing. Put two such projectors side by side, and you really notice what would otherwise be subtle differences. If one has more red, and the other a touch more green, they tend to both look off, but either, by itself can look very natural.
Here, first are a pair of images from my favorite movie not available yet on Blu-ray: Lord of the Rings, played from standard DVD.
Next are our usual three images 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 are images from the sci-fi flick, Aeon Flux:
From Men In Black:
Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Black level performance and handling of dark shadow details are closely intertwined. A projector can have so-so black levels but very good shadow detail, and you end up with a dark scene that is very flat looking. Or, you can have great black levels and just "good" shadow detail, and you end up with the opposite, a dark picture with a lot of pop, but some areas may show a little less, or no detail in a particular area, whereas that the other projector does. I think most prefer the second example. The slight loss of shadow detail and great blacks is typified by the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB. The Mitsubishi HC5500 would be a good example of the first scenario. Ideally you want exceptional performance at both.
That brings us to the RS20. Its black level abilities are unmatched. Richer and darker blacks than anything I've seen. The shadow detail, on the other hand, is simply typical of very good projectors out there. The combination of the two makes for the best looking dark scenes I think you can hope to find today.
First is a 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 much brighter than pure black. Immediately below it, is a less overexposed version, for better 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.
For comparison, here's the same image from the Mitsubishi HC6500. Not even close.
And below is the Panasonic PT-AE3000, which isn't a match for the JVC DLA-RS20:
Immediately below is the older JVC RS2 that the RS20 replaces.
I also took side-by-side images with a fully black "image". There are no larger versions to click on. The interesting thing about shooting fully black "scenes" is that different projectors, so equipped, will close down their dynamic irises to different degrees. Just because one projector looks blacker on a black scene, does not guaranty that that projector is still blacker on a dark, but not fully black scene.
In this case, though, the the comparison is between the JVC (on the right) and the InFocus IN83 on the left. Neither have a dynamic iris. So, what you see, is what you get. The IN83 sports a Darkchip4 processor, which is, I believe as good as DLP gets in terms of black levels (without adding a dynamic iris). There's no comparison between the two projectors, the JVC blows the InFocus away (The photo was taken with a time exposure just long enough to bring up the background of the JVC so you can see it along side the InFocus):
Here are two more dark scenes comparing the JVC (right) and InFocus (left). Both are from The Dark Knight, the first is a production company logo at the very start (on a black background), and the second a night scene in Gotham. Both are a bit overexposed so you can better compare black levels (click to enlarge).
Consider two additional images which are good ones for considering black levels. 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.
There's nothing like a real image of the night sky to show off black level performance. I believe this one above, is from the Hubble telescope.
Shadow Detail Performance
The JVC is very good in terms of shadow detail. Good projectors today don't vary a whole lot in how much dark shadow detail they reveal. Yet, there still are differences. Differences in the gamma can make a difference, but ultimately it's more about getting a projector set up for its best performance. The JVC is definitely a solid performer. I've seen other projectors adjusted well enough to do better than I have been able to get out of the JVC, but were talking pretty negligible on all but the most difficult scenes, when properly set up.
This first comparison image is a good one for both black levels and shadow details. It is from Men in Black. Look at the clouds, the details in the structures at the top, actually there's plenty to look at in the image. This image will become a standard one for comparisons, going forward. This image has the InFocus IN83 on the left (and it has about as good a shadow detail performance as I have seen). The JVC is on the right. You will see that the buildings at the bottom are hard to spot on the JVC. As is some of the detail in the band around the saucer. Note, though, most of the detail is there, it's just darker, and the eye has trouble picking it out because of brighter areas. Of course, that's what happens when watching movies. In scenes with lots of bright areas, you never pick up the dark shadow detail:
In this image above, projected on the screen the JVC looks rich and dynamic, and the InFocs definitely looks a bit flat by comparison. This is definitely one type of scene where the JVC really shines.
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.
Top left: DLA-RS20, Middle: Panasonic PT-AE3000U, Right: BenQ W5000:
The next 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).
First image is the DLA-RS20, followed by the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 and the Mitsubishi HC7000. Next is the the Sony VW60. The last two in the sequence are the Panasonic PT-AE3000 and the older Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB.
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The DLA-RS20 (top left) shows very good shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite. Next to it on the first row, is the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, Those images are followed by the Optoma HD806 and the PT-AE3000 (second row). The third row is the Mitsubishi HC7000 (left), and the Sony VPL-HW10. Apologies, the JVC image is a little blurred, but you can still see the details.
The Space Cowboys re-entry scene is a tough shadow detail test. Projectors with weak black levels and average shadow detail ability tend to generate an image where much of the right side of earth looks to have that flat, lacking in detail look. All projectors pick up some of the brighter features on the right side, while better ones pick up a lot more and usually have richer blacks as well. The JVC does a great job, rich dark blacks, plus good shadow detail.
Next is a frame from the last Indiana Jones movie. You'll this one in other recent reviews. The details still found as the walls and fixtures darken toward the top, are a good way to compare shadow detail.
On the left, is the DLA-RS20, the middle, the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, and on the right, the Panasonic PT-AE3000. The exposures are all a little different, but you should be able to appreciate the combination of shadow detail and dark blacks
Below is the night shot of the casino, in Casino Royale.
When comparing, look at the detail in the roof (tiles), and also in the assorted trees and plants. The small images below (all from the same projector) show a slightly overexposed scene. Click on the images and you will find larger images, but of the different projectors. The large images are far more overexposed, to allow a closer inspection of shadow details.
JVC DLA-RS20 projector:
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB:
Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector:
Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector:
Sony VPL-HW10 projector:
InFocus IN83 projector: (a more expensive projector that I've been raving about)
Mitsubishi HC7000 projector:
Mitsubishi HC6500 projector:
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-RS20U performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the JVC DLA-RS20, Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB in the center, and the right for the PT-AE3000U.
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 JVC DLA-RS20, the second is the Mitsubishi HC7000, and the last one is from the Panasonic PT-AE3000. While shadow detail performance is very good on all of these, you can see that the JVC does produce the best blacks.
Next is a side by side - JVC RS20 this time, is on the Right. the InFocus IN83 to the Left. This scene is from the Dark Knight:
Another good image for observing shadow detail is this very dark scene from the first National Treasure film. The DLA-RS20 performs more than well enough. This image is dramatically overexposed to allow you to view the darkest shadow details. Look to any dark area in the frame, but especially in the upper right steps. It handles those particularly well.:
Overall Color & Picture Quality
The RS20 out of the box, as noted, leaves much to be desired in color accuracy and saturation, except in THX mode. THX is very impressive, but to my taste, it's a little lacking in wow factor - a little flat. Don't get me wrong, the RS20 really does look excellent in THX, it's just that it can do better. THX mode also doesn't quite have as dark a black level performance, as we achieved after calibrating. The thing is, to best calibrate the DLA-RS20 requires the color management system, and is tricky. As I've mentioned elsewhere, if you are spending "the big bucks" for an RS20, plan to spend the additional few hundred for a really good calibration, if you want to get the best out of this projector.
After much work here, and help with the CMS from some of the very serious enthusiasts on the forums, we obtained an excellent calibration. (For more about it, see the calibration page.) While the colors are not as dead on as my favorite (for color accuracy), the InFocus IN83, which seems to look about perfect, in terms of colors and skin tones, no matter what you throw at it, the JVC RS20, is close behind. I've got some side by side images, and you can see differences, in some of them, but others look so close you might mistake them for being the same projector.
Skin tones still have the tiniest amount of extra red when the faces, etc., are not well lit. Much better (extremely good) in bright scenes. These are minor things, there's no doubt far more variation in skin tones, from one movie to the next, than the overall amount of shift in the JVC RS20.
The RS20 looks really great in terms of color accuracy- until, you put it side by side with the InFocus. Put it next to an Epson 6500UB, Panasonic PT-AE3000, and it's better overall, as is also true with the Sony HW10, and BenQ W20000. You should get the idea. Let's finish this off by saying, properly calibrated, the overall picture quality, including shadow details and color balance are excellent, but not the best.
But, when you factor in the incredible black level performance of the RS20, then there's no other projector under $10,000, that I've worked with, that I'd rather own. Even the slightly softer sharpness/crispness of the RS20 compared to the absolute sharpest of the 1080p projectors is, by my taste, a very minor thing, in the overall quest for the getting the best possible image on the screen.
A mix of additional images to show off the DLA-RS20:
From the DTS Blu-ray test disk, consider these:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
Back to movies - here's a couple from Dogma and one from Aeon Flux:
And here are a few more images, the two from Dark Knight, followed by two from the latest Indiana Jones movie and a few assorted scenes from movies and digital video sources:
JVC DLA-RS20U Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
The images above and below are from a Moody Blues Concert that has been broadcast in HD, and is also available on Blu-ray disc. Once again, the great black levels make these images stand out.
Sports looked very good, using THX or our calibrated Cinema 2 mode. Below is a sequence showing how the RS20 performs under different lighting conditions in my room (which was recently painted in this rust color). I took photos with one of the door shades about half open, then slightly open, then closed. For all three, the shutters on the stairs window was in the same position. For the shot taken with the shades full down, moderately low overhead lighting was added. The doors and windows face south so the sun is shining directly in, when these were taken. You can also see the amount of light hitting around the screen, on the front wall, and on the speakers in the larger football images.
Next the shade is lowered most of the way down, but still allowing some sunlight in. That light illuminates the back wall, as seen in the second shot. Then you see a screenshot of the football game taken in this lighting. Not bad, just a little washing out of the blacks (not quite this bad in real life) but a most watchable image.
Now, in the two small images below, the shades are fully down, yet you can see there's still modest lighting in the room. With this shades setup, and my overhead lights on at moderately low levels, you can see that the image does not appear washed out at all!
This last image is a slightly better exposure than the one above, and cropped to eliminate distractions. As you can see, that's an excellent picture, with a reasonable, low level of room lighting.
Here are a few more HDTV images (very moderate lighting):
Yes, in the next image from the HDTV broadcast of the 2009 Rose Bowl game with the Stealth bomber flying overhead before the start of the game. I was there, and can tell you that was a rather amazine experience. The bomber's wingspan was probably as wide as the field. In this case, even watching on my big screen with a great projector, was not even a semblance of the real life experience! Very cool!