JVC DLA-RS25 Projector - Image Quality
JVC DLA-RS25 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-RS25 projector projects on the screen. There are color shifts (too much yellow, in this case), saturation differences, etc.
These images are provided to support the commentary. 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 to some photo shoots that I have not been able to completely remove. In other words, while we can demonstrate differences in black levels and shadow details of the RS25, the photos are only approximations of skin tone and color accuracy.
11/6/2009 - Art Feierman
DLA-RS25 Out of the Box Picture Quality
The THX mode on the JVC DLA-RS25 may well be even better than last year's, which was really, really good, for "right out of the box" performance. Last year, ultimately, we were able to calibrate Cinema 2 to look slightly better than THX. That said, if you select THX mode, I don't think you'll find any other projector at or below its price, that can match its out of the box combination of accuracy, look and feel.
The same is true this year. The JVC RS25 projector's THX mode is excellent. It has its own CMS settings locked in, and that, essentially, seems how THX differs from Cinema 2, as indicated by the CIE charts shown elsewhere in the review.
Ultimately we calibrated Cinema 2 and the individual colors in the Color Management System, and ended up with results I find to be slightly better than THX. All of you that buy an RS25, can drop in our settings (found on the calibration page of this review), and see if you prefer them to the default THX. I think you will.
Skin tones in THX mode are really very good, definitely better than the default Cinema 2 mode. If you aren't making adjustments, stick with THX, and life will be simple.
The image immediately below is an all digital image from the DVE test disc.
In THX mode skin tones are most impressive. That said, I think our settings, at least applied to this unit, in terms of a calibrated Cinema 2 mode, produce slightly better and more faithful skin tones still. Nonetheless, our settings and the THX mode are very similar.
Some additional good news. Not only are skin tones excellent in THX and calibrated Cinema 2, but also rather good in Dynamic mode when you need all the available lumens. Definitely quite as good, but still pretty good. That's only to be expected though, since using Dynamic mode only delivers about an extra 100 or so lumens. Switch to Dynamic, change the gamma, and the JVC DLA-RS25, is all ready to go for some great sports viewing, within, of course the limitations of its brightness, which is just below average for a bright mode.
I still think the best skin tones ever to be seen in my theaters was on a calibrated InFocus IN83, which, sadly, I finally had to return. I do believe the JVC DLA-RS25 is very close to the InFocus, but if memory serves, the IN83 almost always looked dead on. The JVC, doesn't seem to be quite as perfect, but, no problem. I've viewed the RS25 with the RS20. While I'll concede that I haven't recalibrated the RS20 since right after I bought it, that the colors have shifted slightly as I have since put about 600 hours on the lamp.
Still the first time I had both projectors on at the same time, although skin tones looked extremely similar, the RS25 was definitely doing the better job. Those of you who remember the RS20 review, will remember that last year JVC had a very funky CMS system, which gave us great difficulty in calibrating a good picture. Hey, even if that's the primary reason the JVC RS25 looks a little better, the bottom line is that it does!
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:
From Hunt for Red October:
Hey, all these staid images, so conservative. It's time for ProjectorReviews.com to get a bit risque, with this image from Quantum of Solace. After all, it does have some great skin tones:
Lau, above, from The Dark Knight, looks just about perfect, up on the screen, when it comes to believable skin tones.
JVC RS25 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
No doubt about it. The JVC RS25 (and its HD950 twin) is now the new under $10,000 black level performance champion, unless there's a stealth projector out there I just don't know about. OK, in fairness, there may be one other projector that is better. That one, of course, is the new JVC DLA-RS35 (and HD990), which are nothing more - JVC says, than RS25's with hand picked components and a higher level of quality control (not that the RS25 level leaves much to be desired). I should note, that despite my enthusiasm, there are several potentially excellent projectors we haven't reviewed yet.
Black level performance improves ever so slightly over the older RS20. This is nice to see, since the contrast claim of 50,000:1 remains the same as last years RS20. In casual viewing of the JVC RS25, then switching to the RS20, with some delay, I really couldn't see black level improvement. Rather, what I noticed was, overall that the RS25 projector had a little more "pop" to the darker images (even after balancing brightness with the iris).
When I finally put both of them up on the screen at the same time (one above the other, in my main theater), I was able to make out the slight difference in blacks. I was mostly able to do it by comparing the two letterbox areas. The difference is not great, but is a visible difference. It's just that without a "side by side" type of setup, you would be hard pressed to convince someone. Take my word for it though, it's there, it's real, and it takes the best black levels and makes them better still.
In fairness, because the lamp on my JVC has about 600 hours on it, I had to stop down the manual iris several notches to balance brightness. Technically stopping down the manual iris should improve contrast slightly, but, the amount of drop in brightness I needed to apply to the RS25, shouldn't result in any visible improvement in contrast or blacks, to the best of my knowledge. (We're talking about only dropping brightness by 20-25%.)
Image time: 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 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.
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-RS25:
I've even got a couple of side by side images for you, but those are comparing the JVC DLA-RS25 (right) to the Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB, which has the best black levels of any projector under $4000, by my best reckoning.
Here are two more dark scenes comparing the JVC (right) and Epson (left) from Space Cowboys.
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.
There's nothing like a real image of the night sky to show off black level performance. This one is from the Hubble telescope. This image is absolutely gorgeous when filling my 128" screen, using the JVC RS25.
Shadow Detail Performance
The JVC RS25 really does a good job in terms of shadow detail, though not the best. Generally it seems just a touch better at dark shadow detail than the Epson UB, but just a touch less dark shadow detail than, say, the Panasonic PT-AE4000. Today's better projectors don't vary a whole lot in how much dark shadow detail they reveal. Yet, there still are differences. Also differences in how you set gamma can make a difference, but ultimately it's more about getting a projector set up for its best performance. The JVC is definitely very good, but not exceptional.
That said, if one switches gamma on the JVC from Normal, to the A setting, which only lifts the very dark areas slightly (20IRE or less), and bingo, now the black levels are every bit as detailed as the Panasonic.
Working against the JVC are its inherently excellent black levels. That means that the same near blacks on the JVC should be darker than on a projector with inferior black level performance. That means that the detail may be there, but harder to see, simply because it's darker. I've owned the older RS20 for over 6 months, and have no problem with JVC's dark shadow detail performance. The RS25, in this regard seems virtually identical to the RS20.
Below, Epson on the left, JVC on the right. 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 rich and dynamic, and the InFocus 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.
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).
First image is the DLA-RS25, 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 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-RS25 (top left) shows very good shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite. Next to it on the first row, is the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB/Pro Cinema 9600UB, 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-HW15.
Next is a frame from the last Indiana Jones movie. You'll see 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-RS25, the middle, the Epson 8500UB/9500UB, 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. Note, it's not about how bright the roof tiles are, but that they are visible, and that there are also differences in the trees and shrubs.
JVC DLA-RS25 projector:
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB:
Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector:
Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector:
Sony VPL-HW15 projector:
InFocus IN83 projector:
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-RS25U performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the JVC DLA-RS25, 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-RS25, 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 RS25 as usual is on the Right. the Epson to the Left. This scene is from the trailer of the recent Star Trek movie directed by J.J. Abrams.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
Stunning comes to mind, as a good descriptor. Overall, our calibrated Cinema 2 (essentially the same as THX, but with our calibrated CMS settings not theirs), looks great. Skin tones are excellent, looking better side by side, than the Epson UB projector and also better than the Panasonic PT-AE4000 (although in fairness, we haven't calibrated that one yet).
Overall there's very little difference between the JVC DLA-RS25, and the older DLA-RS20. I'm not sure how much of the slightly greater "pop" the RS25 has, is due to the older lamp in my RS20, or how much is due to the slightly improved, and truly unmatchec black levels. Ultimately, though, the RS25 does look, overall, both extremely similar, and slightly better, than the RS20. Not a great difference, but at this level, any real improvement is always appreciated, in the quest for perfection.
Darker and very dark scenes, of course are a real strength of this JVC RS25. With its advantage over all other projectors, in terms of blacker blacks, and the fact that unlike almost all other projectors, which rely on a dynamic iris for excellent blacks, the JVC does not. That means darker images are not being compressed. With dynamic iris designed projectors, for an iris to close down, those small bright areas also have to be dimmed or the iris can't close down at all.
With the JVC, the whites are just as bright on an otherwise extremely dark scene, as they are on a full daylight scene. Projectors with DI's just can't claim that, and it does make a real and easly visible difference. I got to witness and demonstrate that to the Panasonic folks that were here yesterday, when we compared their PT-AE4000 to the JVC DLA-RS25.
A mix of additional images to show off the DLA-RS25: August Rush
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 movie August Rush, plus a few assorted scenes from movies and digital video sources:
The very bottom line on overall image quality and color: It doesn't get much better than this. Rich, very accurate colors, good saturation, and those superb, unmatched blacks, plus a lot of lumens for movie viewing, pretty much insure a great viewing experience, and one that can handle a larger screen too.
JVC DLA-RS25U Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
Images here are just placeholders.