JVC DLA-RS15 Projector Review

JVC DLA-RS15 images below are from either Blu-ray, or HDTV. The one excepton is Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). These images are not overly accurate in terms of color, or some other aspects. They are most helpful relative to shadow detail, black level performance, and sharpness. The DLA-RS15 projector invariably looks much bette than what you see here, and different too. There are color shifts, saturation differences, etc.

More images to come, a couple of important ones still missing.

DLA-RS15 Out of the Box Picture Quality

Very good, yet, can be much improved! Oh, it’s true, put on Cinema 1 and most folks will just go wow. Those of us looking for pretty accurate color, and a higher level of performance though will definitely appreciate a calibration. Unlike the more expensive JVC projectors, the RS15 does not have a pre-calibrated THX mode. So, drop in our calibration settings, or better yet, get thee to a calibrator!

Flesh Tones

With our calibration giving us a much more accurate, and more consistent color temperature, the skin tones of the RS15 are looking to be truly excellent. The projector just looks vibrant on skin tones. Not the dark vibrant, that is associated (by me) with the DLP “look and feel” but more of a mid and bright range vibrance. In this regard, it is more vibrant than even the more expensive JVCs, which seem a touch “dark” overall, by comparison. Those blacker blacks add that slightly “darkish look” element to the pricier JVCs, which is just killer on dark scenes, but the RS15 has a “lighter” feel on most other scenes. (I hope that makes sense? -art)

Next are our usual three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale, under different lighting conditions. (These were all taken with the RS25 projector.)

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.

JVC RS15 Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Long before the new RS25 and RS35 hit the market, there was the first ultra high contrast JVC projector, the RS1. Three years ago, the RS1 didn’t just raise the bar, on black level performance, it blew away everything on the market (but CRT projectors of course). The RS15 is the RS1 – 3 generations later. It’s better, slightly better in terms of blacks. I had an RS1, and while the RS15 is definitely better than my old RS1 at blacks, it’s still closer to the RS1 than the more expensive current RS25.

That is to say, the RS15 doesn’t have the best blacks.

The RS15′s blacks are excellent, though, with perhaps only one or two other non JVC projectors that can even challenge it. (I’m thinking specifically the Sony VW85 and the Planar PD8150, but both use dynamic irises.)

Even my lower cost favorite projector, the Epson 8500UB / 9500UB, on its best day, can’t match the RS15′s blacks. Not even on the dark scenes with no bright areas that give a dynamic iris it’s best environment.

The problem with the RS15, is that it’s a half way projector.

It’s about halfway between the best lower cost projectors, and the best (RS25 and RS35), when it comes to blacks.

Those like me, who demand great black performance are torn. Yes, I got by just fine with my RS1, but, nice as the RS15 is, I want RS20/25 calibre black performance.

I’m not sure how many people considering, say the Epson 8500UB on the low end and the RS25 at the top, will decide to compromise in the middle with the RS15. Well, officially $2500 less than the RS25 will certainly help.

Image time: First is our usual 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.Immediately below, from The Fifth Element, our favorite starship image – overexposed.

VPL VW85
DLA RS25
VPL VW85
DLA RS25
PT AE4000
VPL VW85
+DLA RS25

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