JVC DLA-RS10 Projector Review

Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Great black level performance is what JVC home theater projectors are famous for. True, the JVC RS10 can’t quite match the more expensive RS20, but that’s exactly as intended. The RS10 comes close, for a lot less money. And perhaps more to the point it has the second best black level performance of any projector I’ve reviewed (well, except for theRS2 that the RS20 is replacing).

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. 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 example. Ideally you want exceptional performance at both.

JVC DLA RS20
JVC DLA RS20
DLA RS10
JVC DLA RS20
HC6500
PT AE3000U

That brings us to the RS20. It’s 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. Immediately below it, for comparison, is a similar image from the RS20. Notice that the letterbox blackness is about the same, but the starship itself is more overexposed on the RS20. Now imagine that we had taken the RS20 shot so that the starship is just as overexposed (instead of more) as the RS10. In that case, the letterbox would be darker (and therefore, the black levels in general) on the RS20. And that, is the difference.

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 DLA-RS10 (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. Note, the white vertical streak toward the left side of the RS10′s dark image is actually light leakage from the InFocus:

Next is a dark scene of Gotham, from The Dark Knight, comparing the JVC (right) and InFocus (left).he Dark KnightBoth are a bit overexposed so you can better compare black levels (click to enlarge).

Consider two additional images which are good ones for observing 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.

Shadow Detail Performance

The JVC DLA-RS10 is very good in terms of shadow detail. As I’ve pointed out many times, good projectors today don’t vary a whole lot in how much dark shadow detail they reveal. Still, there still differences. Of note, the gamma setting can make a difference, but ultimately it’s more about getting a projector set up for its best performance. This JVC is definitely revealing a great deal of dark shadow detail. 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 very slight differences 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 InFocus definitely looks a bit flat by comparison. This is definitely one type of scene where the JVC really shines.

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