JVC DLA-X95 Projector - Image Quality
All of the JVC DLA-X95 screen image photos below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV source material. Screen images were taken projecting onto a Stewart Studiotek 130 screen. Comparison images (two projectors, side by side, were taken when projecting to a Carada Brilliant White 1.4 gain screen, which is basically similar to the Studiotek).
Basically all the projectors we review, including this DLA-X95R, will look a lot better projecting on to your screen, (or even a white wall), than in these pictures. Although the images can reveal some things and support some points I make, they are mostly for "entertainment" for the following reasons:
These JVC DLA-X95R projector images come to you, through a Canon 60D dSLR camera, Photoshop software where we save for web, using massive image compression (which does shift color), browsers, your computer's graphic card, and even your monitor, all with their own color and contrast inaccuracies. There are color shifts, saturation differences, etc. Take them all, "with a grain (no, make that a kilo) of salt".
In terms of color shifts, note that these images (viewed on my Mac) exhibit a touch extra yellow (with an even slighter extra touch of orange), that's not present when viewing it on the screen.
All that said, viewing a calibrated JVC X95 projector in a good room with decent content is a rather stunning experience.
2/15/13 - Art Feierman
DLA-X95 "Out of the Box" Picture Quality
Pretty good! This JVC X95R sports a THX mode so we expect no less. Still, THX modes don't seem to be very consistent when it comes to color temperature, from one certified projector to another. Last year the X70R, was up in the upper -7000's for white. This year it's a much better 6900+. Much closer to the target 6500K. But the grayscale balance itself is very good, resulting in a consistently pleasant image.
Check out our recommended settings for items like Brightness, Color, etc. on the Calibration page of this review.
Above concert image from the Paladia channel was taken in default Stage mode, the best combination of color, brightness and the punch to deal with some modest ambient light.
THX mode and User 1 are very similar and the basis for Mike's calibration.
Switch to Stage (or Animation) and you buy yourself less than an extra 100 lumens, but overall, the other aspects of those presets, result in more vibrant, if less accurate picture, and color. In general, to my taste THX mode for movie viewing appears a touch oversaturated, color wise. I dial it back by 2, although Mike shows the correct setting to be 0. (See the Calibration page.)
DLA-X95 Projector - Flesh Tones
In total I've logged more than 100 hours onto this X95R. (Might as well fully enjoy it while I have it.). Skin tones, post calibration are really good, and rather natural (as long as you avoid all but the minimum setting for e-shift. Even with the Film setting engaged when viewing a movie, there's a bit of shift to, say, Gandalf's face below. It starts looking a touch harder, less smooth, a touch more contrasty seeming. That said, I did most of my movie viewing with e-shift2 set to Film, rather than off. You be the judge. Naturalness of skin tones is gone by the time you get up to High Resolution or the other even higher settings. Oh, not drastically so, but the images tend to look oversharpened.
If there's one other aspect of skin tone handling, it's in dark scenes. In the lower ranges - I'm talking around 20 IRE and below, the X95R is a little warm - down in the mid 6200K range. That tends to make a skin tone in a darker scene pick up a bit to much red.
Above and below, from Lord of the Rings: Gandalf, Arwen. Arwen's skin tones properly pick up the strong green lighting that is correct as she is bathed in forest light. You should even notice a touch more green in her forehead than her jaw. That is, as it should be.
Leeloo, of course, from The Fifth Element
Once again, our three Daniel Craig, Bond images, demonstrating the effects of different lighting on skin tones:
This HDTV image below, was taken with the X95 in Stage mode, the projector's brightest, rather than the User 1 "best" mode used for all the movie shots.
Immediately below are some additional images we typically use in reviews, that should give you a good feel for overall skin tone handling:
Amy Winehouse in concert (recorded off of the Paladia channel):
DLA-X95R Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Native black level performance is the one thing that the JVC X95R definitely does well, and without equal. No dynamic iris needed. Yet the JVC LCoS panels are capable of natural dynamic range - contrast, so good, (130,000:1 contrast ratio), that produces extremely black blacks, whether on a very dark scene like our images below, or even bright or medium bright scenes. The blacks are consistent, not dependent on a dynamic iris to lower them.
Even lacking a dynamic iris, there are only a couple of projectors with irises that can give the JVC DLA-X95R - or the DLA-RS66U, any sort of run for the money. Of all we've tested, only the Sony VW1000ES at double the price seems to produce a visibly blacker black - but only on darker scenes. The less expensive Sony VW95ES, on those same dark scenes is almost as good, and may match the JVC projector. But, switch to something, such as a night cityscape with enough bright objects, and the JVC produces the same dark blacks, but those Sonys, or the Epsons, or the...., that come close, no longer can stay up with this JVC projector.
Of course it's those really dark scenes where you want to blackest blacks, but still recognize that the difference in blacks will be bigger on a scene that's mostly very dark, but still has enough light areas to essentially prevent a dynamic iris from stopping down enough to produce its best blacks.
Let's look at a couple of side by side images:
Below: JVC X95 R on the left, Epson Home Cinema 5020UB on the right: (Epson has provided us use of a 5020UB for the year). It serves as a good reference for comparing any projector's blacks, even if not quite up to this JVC.
Above, our night train scene. This first side by side, is slightly overexposed, the one located below, drastically overexposed. This is an almost dictionary definition dark scene with virtually no bright areas (really just the train's headlight, and off screen, the Blu-ray player's pause marker). (To match the images in overall brightness, I used the JVC's manual iris and lowered it by 3 (of 16 settings) from wide open).
In this image, the Epson looks a touch more overexposed, so more whites without greens, but concentrate on the woods and shrubs on the right. Note how much darker the darkest part of the woods are. You can just barely make out, also, that the letter box above the Epson is slightly lighter than the JVC, also indicting the JVC's better blacks. The JVC manages a more dynamic scene thans to that blacks advantage. Viewing it live, the differences in the two are slight, but no question they are there.
Here we again start, with the DLA-X95R, followed by last year's JVC DLA-X70R (basically last year's top of the line without the hand picked components), then, the Sony VPL-VW95ES. Note: We have been converting most recent "starship" images to grayscale to remove the distraction of varying colors (which tend to be exaggerated on these many seconds long time exposures).
Other than the slight difference in exposure (the X70R being more overexposed) these two are very similar. (You can tell the amount of additional overxposure most easily by comparing their pause icons.) In reality, the newer X95R claims higher contrast and delivers, but the difference between the two should be very slight, and both sharing, overall, the same characteristics, in terms of blacks, regardless of the scene.
The JVC X95 image up above, is obviously more overexposed than the Sony down below. Despite that, note that the blacks of space, and in the letterbox area, the blacks still look good on the JVC, and stars are brighter. The Sony's "blacks" though, measure blacker, due to the exposure difference.
Mitsubishi HC9000D: The image below, is the also excellent Mitsubishi HC9000D which uses the Sony LCoS panels. That image is more similarly exposed to the JVC, so makes for a better comparison. Mitsubishi HC9000D (uses Sony LCoS panels):
Again rather comparable, but the edge goes to the JVC in real life. And of course the advantage grows for the JVC when you are comparing scenes that are not very dark.
Sony VPL-VW1000ES: OK, this one below, is $25,000, but "wow"!
Sharp XV-Z30000: This Sharp was reviewed last summer. Sharp was the first manufacturer to release a 3D 1080p home theater projector (at least in any reasonable price range). This XV-Z30000 proves to be a substantial improvement, as their second generation 3D projector. Very good blacks, in part thanks to dual irises, the Z3000 must be considered typical of the better DLP's but definitely a step down from the JVC.
Epson Home Cinema 5020UB:
Epson has reigned for years as the "black level champ" in the under $3500 price range, and can compete in blacks, rather easily with most over $5000 projectors.
That said, it can't quite compete with the JVC DLA-X95R, as indicated in the Bond train scene we started this section with. The Epson is, to my reckoning, the best at blacks under $3500, but it cannot match the blacks of the JVC DLA-X95, and for that matter, overall, it falls a touch shy of the two $6000 projectors, the Mitsubishi HC9000D and Sony VW95ES as well.
JVC DLA-X55R: JVC's $5000 projector, with a much lower contrast claim, and while still very good blacks, a real step down from the 95R. You can quickly note that the blacks below are not as dark as the Epson above. It's especially noticeable in the letterbox area.
Finally, some additional side by side imagery. On the right is the DLA-X95R, on the left is the Epson HC5020UB again This night scene from The Hunger Games, is about to become a standard image in forthcoming reviews:
The comparison above has been converted to grayscale so slight color differences are not distracting. Overall, when viewing this image, the JV has a bit more "pop". You can just see that in the general lower right, mostly very dark area with little detail, that the Epson's slightly lighter blacks (grays), make the image look a little more flat. That is, on this scene you can notice easily in the comparison that the blacks (of the Epson) could be blacker. The JVC may have the advantage, but you have to admit, for 1/4 the price...
Shadow Detail Performance
Really good. Almost as good as it gets. In comparing to the Epson 5020UB, which has excellent shadow detail, the JVC X95 comes extremely close. The Epson is interesting, in that until about 3 years ago, dark shadow detail was a problem for the old Epson UB projectors. Now they are about as good as I can find and thus the Epson's a good choice to compare all other projectors to.
Editor's note: As we started to do with the starship image above, more recently we are converting the Casino Royale night train scene, to grayscale, so that the color shifts aren't distracting.
JVC DLA-X95 R:
Last year's JVC X70R:
Sony VPL-VW95ES: The exposures are different, but the JVC still demonstrates slightly better dark shadow detail than this Sony.
Mitsubishi HC9000D: A previous Best In Class award winner:
Here are images from additional projectors:
Sony VPL-HW50ES: a third the price (sorry, image not overexposed quite enough):
Epson's Home Cinema 5020: Definitely a lot less overexposed, making it tough to determine. Instead look at the side by side comparison above in the black level area.
JVC DLA-RS25: a few generations old, one generation newer than my RS20.
Runco LS-10d: (a very nice 3 chip $27K projector with good shadow detail)
Bottom line, really good dark shadow detail, while not the best, close enough to not worry about - at all!
JVC DLA-X95R - Overall Color & Picture Quality
OK, enough of the dark overexposed scenes, time to consider color performance on more typical scenes, with "normally" exposed photos.
Until JVC's "entry level" $3500 DLA-X35 arrived yesterday, the only higher performance projector in house while I've had the X95R here, has been the Epson 5020UB. This time I took several comparisons of the two projectors on "normal scenes" not just the usual black level and shadow detail images. Consider (JVC on the left for all comparison images):
Perhaps the most striking thing about the side by side images is how very similar they look. Both projectors calibrate very well, and very similarly.
I did not do any comparison side-by-sides from HDTV.
No matter, overall the JVC looked great when it comes to color, natural vibrancy, general look and feel. It really does put an impressive image up there. Interestingly, I think that e-shift2, while presenting a seeming more detailed image, may actually slightly degrade what I call the JVC's clarity. I get less sense of "superior optics" with e-shift2 engaged, than not. Considering that e-shift overlaps pixels, that shouldn't be surprising. With e-shift2 off, I expect one would notice a bigger difference between a JVC X75R and this X95R. I'll let you sort out the implications of that, or maybe I won't.
Let me put it this way. The X95R may seem, in terms of the general picture, including color and clarity, to be less "superior" to the X75R when e-shift is used. One might say, score a point for the X75R for you purists out there.
Still, the X95R will have just slightly better blacks, either way.
For your consideration: Here are additional JVC DLA-X95R images, some of which can be found on other reviews for comparison purposes:
Two from Iron Man 2:
Below: From Total Recall
The bottom line on overall picture quality:
2D Picture Quality is really great. It's a pleasure to watch. Only when there's a lot of very dark color, that reds seem to be a touch too much.
I'm really nitpicking. Remember calibrating is not a precise sport. Try again, or wait a couple hundred hours on the lamp, and the results will always be just slightly different.
The JVC DLA-X95R is the whole package when it comes to having a great 2D projector sporting a great picture. Not only is the color really good, but add in the blacks, the better than most, dark shadow detail, and it's hard to find fault.
JVC DLA-X95R Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
In the right room, with good lighting control, the X95R is excellent for 2D viewing of sports and other HDTV content. Too much brightness is the JVC's achilles heel, since it's still below average in "brightest mode" brightness. Some "family room" projectors offer up to 3 times the lumens - the brightness, and that folks is almost "night and day."
Here's how the room looked for shooting the HDTV football images:
All the sports images below were taken with my rear recessed lighting turned on, projector in Stage Mode (unless otherwise noted). The other HDTV images were taken with lights off, in User 1 (calibrated mode), but with less ambient allowed to come in through the mostly closed window shutters and adjacent room's skylight.
Again, note that there is a fair amount of ambient light for the football images.
A reminder - less ambient light was let into the room for the non-football images: Talk about colors popping:
More "wow", in terms of color, and again, this is still with pretty modest ambient light, rather than none at all.
Note the black to Aaron Rodgers left, compare to the black in the image above... Folks, that's what ambient light does to a picture. Sorry Aaron, you just don't "pop" when there's a reasonable amount of ambient light.
Bottom line for HDTV on the JVC DLA-X95R Home Theater Projector
The picture looks great, so the only potential issue is brightness, assuming you wish to watch with some ambient light present. Assuming that you have put your JVC DLA-X95 or DLA-RS66 in a home theater, or at least a room with good lighting control, there should be no issue. I don't see a problem with a 130" diagonal 16:9 screen for watching football or Discovery-HD, with that good lighting control.
Since the JVC X95 belongs in a theater type room, there should be no problem. That said, the X95 can do fine is a room not optimized, but on a smaller screen, and perhaps (as I had) a high contrast grey screen surface to help with side ambient light.
Very Bottom Line: Works great! Looks great on a wide range of everything that I watch on HDTV, from concerts to sitcoms to sporting events.
What I said last year regarding the X70R equally applies to this DLA-X95R projector when it comes to sports and HDTV viewing in my dark surfaced theater: I can have all my rear recessed lights on (7 down facing LED lights - each about 50 watt equivalent), and still find that sports viewing is more than bright enough in 2D, with a fair amount of ambient light in the back of the room.
You could easily sit on the couch and read a book, and while gazing up, see a reasonably bright image, with the ambient light having very little effect on the picture. . While there isn't a huge difference in brightness between the JVC X95R's various modes, filling a 96-98" screen (16:9) even with the lights on, in any of the modes, looks pretty good in my theater. That said, for sports I invariably watched in Stage mode - "brightest", when ever I had the lights on, or allowed some daylight in through my shuttered windows.
Remember, though - I said 96" screen, which is the largest projected 16:9 image my 124" 2.35:1 screen can show (big letterboxes on the side).
Since everything HDTV is 16:9, you would think that I really don't have the option of viewing HDTV at larger screen sizes (due to my screen being 2.35:1 ratio, 124" diagonal). True, normally that's less than 98" diagonal.
But, then there's football, and DirecTV's GameMix (several photos of Game Mix are scattered through the review). When there are 8 games going at once, because of a lot of wasted space, above and below the individual screens, I zoom to the largest possible image which has the whole image actually wider than my screen's 9.5 feet. I set it so that all 8 games just fit into the screen itself. This means I'm actually at about 130" diagonal. At that size, in a theater, it's still a great picture if ambient light is kept to modest.
On the first page of this review, we looked at the effects of different settings of e-shift 2 on content from a Blu-ray movie. With film we wanted to avoid the higher e-shift settings. Not so for sports viewing, so here, again, is a series of photos, showing a football game sideline shot.
We start with e-shift2 set to off: Click of course, for larger images. I only took 3 settings, Off, High Resolution, and Film. You really will have to click for the larger images to appreciate the differences. They just don't show up on these small 420 pixel wide images.
Film: A more moderate setting than High Resolution. Regretfully I did not shoot this scene with the HD setting.
One more time: JVC's DLA-X95 projector is designed for the dedicated theater or cave. Its almost average "brightest mode" (about 800 lumens) doesn't have much to spare for room ambient light, or bright surfaces. Forgetting that, it's a great picture for sports.
An image for fun! Recorded off of HDTV, this audience shot from Live with Kelly features a guy up front having a good time. That folks, is your fav reviewer. To my left, is Lisa, responsible for all our "social" including our Facebook, YouTube, and other presences and for producing all of our videos, and Lori (the redhead), who soon after they post, proofs these reviews, plus she maintains our database and makes sure our advertisers pay us:
Finally, regarding HDTV viewing: Stage mode in its default setting, uses a color temp setting of 8000K which is obviously a bit cool. I immediately dialed it down to 7500K, which I found to be better balanced, with reds less "thin". 7500K setting was used for all these HDTV photos. I might have continued down to 7000K, but when I tried it, the relative loss of the blue whites, really reduced a lot of the extra "pop" that Stage has. You know, I'm talking about that extra "cut through ambient light" difference.
Consider, an extra "almost 100 lumens", in its own right isn't very much, far less difference than between the projector's two lamp level settings. Stage definitely, and immediately, seems significantly brighter than the calibrated User 1, and I believe the higher color temp is in large part responsible.