JVC DLA-X55 Projector - Performance
12/18/2012 - Art Feierman
On this page we take a look at the DLA-X55 projector's brightness, sharpness, and image noise. We'll discuss brightness in both 2D and 3D, as well. Also considered here are other issues including image noise, light leakage, "4K e-shift" and audible noise.
JVC DLA-X55R Brightness
It wasn't exceptionally easy figuring out how bright this JVC should be. A good deal of the initial information I had (pre-release) didn't seem to mention a brightness spec. JVC showed me the error of my ways. This JVC DLA-X55R - and the RS48, are rated 1200 lumens along with JVC's more expensive models. The lower cost X35 and it's RS46 equivalent are rated slightly brighter at 1300 lumens.
Mike's highest measurements of the X55R were lower than last year's X30 / RS45 projector, more in line with the more expensive X70R (this year, the new model is an X75R, but we haven't reviewed that one yet (we plan to). Although the X55R, along with the less expensive X35, is supposed to have it's in last year's X30. That's not the case, at least, for brightness.
Again lower cost X35 claims 1300 lumens while the X55R, X75R and X95R all claim a lower 1200 lumens. What is interesting, though is that last year's X70R still managed to measure slightly brighter than this X55R. The X70R had measured 748 lumens calibrated vs. 703 with the X55R.
Ed.Note: We do not attempt to find every lumen, we only care about pictures that are very watchable. No doubt we could tweak settings and find at least 10% more lumens, but the only point would be to see how many we can find. We focus instead on "best" and "brightest" modes which are excellent and very watchable, respectively.
The next few screens will deal with pre-calibration information of the DLA-X55 R projector, including photos of how some of the modes look. Further down you'll find the post calibration information including the measured brightness for D65 and "brightest" mode.
We will also look at the affects of JVC's "4K e-Shift2" with comparative photos.
First are the lumen measurements for each of the preset and user modes. Also included was the measured color temp for white, for each mode.
JVC DLA-X55R Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom) Pre-Calibration:
Cinema= 712 @ 6506, 451 @ 6827 in default Low lamp mode
Film= 676 @ 5967
Natural= 721 @ 6510
Stage= 793 @ 7736
Animation= 775 @ 8377
3D= 793 @ 7755
User 1-5= 721 @ 6518
Note, again this year Stage mode definitely looks a bit brighter, with a lot more pop. (with color temp at 7000K). Mike's measured numbers don't seem to reflect, any significant difference in brightness, but the image is the one you'll want, say for sports, if there's any real ambient light at all.
JVC's DLA-X55R lacks the THX mode found on the higher end projectors.
Here are samples of the DLA-X55R projector in different modes: User 1 is our calibrated Best. We offer up the other modes calibrated. Stage is our "Brightest", but User is so close in brightness that Mike didn't feel the need to tweek Stage, which mostly would have improved only slightly, but at the cost of its brightness advantage.
User 1: (Calibrated)
3D This mode is umped up in terms of color and dynamics, but not actually brighter than Stage mode above:
Although there's not a huge, measurable difference, but in watching this projector, Stage appears sufficiently brighter than the calibrated User 1 (just over a 100 lumen difference) that buddies who came over to watch some March Madness insisted on Stage mode, after switching back and forth. We had the room's back lighting on.
JVC 4K e-Shift 2
I spent a ton of time playing with e-Shift 2, an improved and somewhat different version than last year's. If you want to see results from the older system, you'll find that in last year's X70R review.
I have already discussed on the first page. Here I want to comment on the visual differences. I want to also mention that you can run CFI and MPC at the same time. They do affect each other. Let's start with that.
But first, a reminder. MPC is the image processing for e-Shift (this year the version is e-Shift 2). If MPC is set to off, there is no e-Shift and it's a standard 1080p projector. With it engaged, it's still not 4K, but it is a viable technique for image detail enhancement.
Let's look at a closeup of text from Mad Money: First, the full frame. Below that we zoom in on the area around Pennsylvania
Below, we look at the image with e-Shift off, and with it at HD:
E-Shift is off, on the left image, on HD, for the right image. You should click on these images, of course, for much larger ones in order to easily see what's happening).
Note there's very little visible distortion around the text of Pennsylvania on the enlarged left image. (That's CFI on low, and MPC (e-Shift) Off.) The enlarged version of the one on the right, though shows slignificant distortion around the text. The same is true around smaller text and symbols lower down, and around objects. Keep in mind, not all of the distortion from the off image is due to even CFI. This image is from HDTV over DirecTV so there's some noise distortion inherent to the broadcast. The important point is that e-Shift's higher settings can put out some visible noise.
Remember this is a very small portion of the screen, but it shows that you pick up a significant amount of artifacts in exchange for other benefits!
Now let's look at a full set, showing all the MPC modes. This time CFI is not engaged (as would be typical for most people's movie viewing).
MPC e-Shift OFF:
Film (only a slight difference):
HD: In this image, I would say that e-Shift MPC is "over the top"! What do you think? (Note we're looking at "film" not digital HD content.)
Hi Resolution mode is similar but not as strong as HD. We are not showing Hi Res or SD (which is the second softest after Film. Here however is Dynamic which shows even more contrast than HD:
If you want to see all 5 modes (and off), for comparison, revisit the Spiderman images on the first page.
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Stage mode):
Zoom out: 872
Zoom in: 635
Going from mid-point on the zoom to full wide angle (the closest you can place the projector to your screen), gives you almost exactly 10% more lumens. Maximum telephoto is almost 26% less bright than closest positioning.
This is really is really good for a 2:1 zoom. Many projectors with that much zoom range see a drop of 30-40%, and on the lower end, the Panasonic PT-AR100U ($999) drops just about 50%! This JVC's optics are a real plus, if you want to mount in the back of your room, such as on a high shelf, since it's not that much less bright than with close placement.
JVC refers to full brightness as High, and their "eco-mode" as Normal brightess.
Lumen Output Low Lamp, Cinema: 451 lumens
At full power, Cinema measures 712 lumens, so the X55R projector has a drop of about 37%. That should be pretty consistant regardless of which mode you are in.
Color Temp over IRE Range, Best mode (Pre calibration):
Cinema (User and Natural are very similar)
30 IRE 6292K
50 IRE 6478K
80 IRE 6487K
100 IRE 6518K
Other than the warm - (shift toward red - the 6292K) in the lower ranges of brightness - the starting point for calibration is pretty good.
Effect of Lens Aperture setting on lumen output (Stage mode):
0 (maximum opening) = 793
-7 (half open) = 523
-15 (minimum opening) = 315
If you don't need all the brightness, please note that the more you close down the iris of this JVC, the higher the contrast. Blacks will get even blacker, both by virtue of the smaller iris opening, and also because of the reduced overall brightness. Of course, the idea is not to starve yourself of brightness, for a very minor improvement in blacks. I think more folks (if you don't need maximum brightness) would tend to drop the projector to Low power on the lamp, before reducing brightness via the iris. Afterall, the other way you get a quieter projector and more life out of the lamp.
JVC DLA-X55R Projector - Post Calibration
DLA-X55R Best mode- User 1: 703 lumens @ 6588
Color Temp over IRE Range (Post calibration, User 1):
20 IRE 6429K
30 IRE 6343K
40 IRE 6479K
50 IRE 6521K
60 IRE 6612K
70 IRE 6590K
80 IRE 6569K
90 IRE 6604K
100 IRE 6588K
Average gamma= 2.22
JVC Gamma Control:
Gamma controls are extensive, but all the settings are a below the target of 2.2. Mike used the custom feature to create a better gamma. More on that on the calibration page.
Mike's NOTES: As seems to be somewhat "chronic" for JVC projectors, gamma was too low in any of the presets (Normal was the high with an average gamma of 2.10), so I used the custom gamma. The custom gamma started with the Normal preset, but I dropped the numbers by 15 up to 70%, and then -10 after that.
The rest of Mike's comments are on the Calibration page. The Calibration page provides the settings we used. That includes basic settings as well as gain and offset. Mike also calibrated the CMS for this DLA-X55R projector.
JVC DLA-X55R Sharpness
Here's where we usually take a look at the sharpness compared to a few competitors using a closeup of the Playstation 3's main screen. The image used for the JVC X55 has e-Shift turned on to HD.
For your consideration, our usual close up images:
Top left: JVC DLA-X70R, Top Right Center: Sony VPL-HW50ES, Top right: Panasonic PT-AE8000U
Additionally: Viewsonic Pro9000 left, Sharp XV-Z30000 right, both single chip DLPs without any fancy image processing engaged.
JVC DLA-X55R: Bottom Line Sharpness
Standard sharpness is a bit soft as expected, compared to good single chip DLP projectors when you don't engage e-Shift. Add e-Shift, and depending on settings. E-Shift is cool, but it is a dynamic detail enhancement system. It can make the image look sharper, even a lot sharper, but, the trade-off against a natively sharper projector, is that at times, your picture (if you are using more than the Film e-Shift setting - the one with the lowest affect) may be oversharpened, and over detailed and look unnatural. Have fun with it, though. Overall, used judiciously, it's excellent. Only Sony's Reality Creation is likely to do better - but I have not been able to compare to the two, side by side. I would give the advantage to JVC compared to Epson's Super-Resolution.
X55R Light Leakage
JVC has always used a larger panel in terms of pixels than the 1920x1080 which makes up 1080p. As a result there has always been some extra light, beyond the screen edge. In the image below (RS45 easier to see than the X55R), you can see a thin band around the screen (actually brightest in the upper right and lower left corners) that narrow band around the screen is the the output from those extra pixels.
No matter, the blacks are black enough with the JVC DLA-X55 R projector, that they are barely visible on the screen, or a white wall, unless there's no other light - no image on the screen, and your eyes have had a chance to adjust. If there's any sort of picture up on the screen, and you have typical darker walls in a theater, you won't spot any issue unless really looking for it, and maybe not then.
DLA-X55R Image Noise
Other than noise generated by the various dynamic controls including Clear Motion (CFI) and MPC (for e-Shift), overall the JVC looks pretty good. Tackling that tough panning scene (at 24fps) near the beginning of RED, the X55 did a little better than some, but still had a touch too much jumping. Background image noise was very good.
3D was a dramatic improvement over last year's projector in general. Afterall, crosstalk is a type of image noise. Last year's JVC's were pretty weak in 3D in part due to more crosstalk than any other projectors near the price. Not so this year. I was impressed by the improvement, and also by how good the finished product is. It now certainly rivals any of the other non DLP projectors when it comes to 3D. Note: Technically DLP single chip projectors don't have crosstalk.
JVC DLA-X55R Audible Noise
For a large projector, it's not as quiet at full power, as you might expect. It's not bad though. Probably high - right around 30 db is my guess. It's definitely a little quieter than the Epson UB projectors and noisier than the Sony HW50ES (and likely the VW95ES - but it's been quite a while since I played with the 95ES.)
Switch to Low power, and the projector becomes very reasonably quiet - no issues there, not even (I think) for those most sensitive to audible noise.
Back to full power. When the JVC's running in High lamp, sitting 3 feet from the projector, it's fan noise is almost completely drowned out by my Sony PS3 when its fan is on high. The PS3, however sits 8 feet from me. As with most projectors, we could hope for quieter at full power, but mostly you won't notice it - it's steady, and relatively low pitched - unless you hit a really quiet scene. Even then, it's likely to be like sitting in the kitchen - you tend not to notice the sound your refrigerator makes when running - at least not until it turns off, then you think "ah, the refrigerator noise just went away".
No more issues with audible noise than other projectors in the price range, and a little quieter than some.