LG AF115 Projector - Image Quality
LG AF115 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 AF115 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 LG AF115 commentary. In reality, the projectors always look better than the images in our reviews. From a color standpoint, my dSLR camera (Olympus E-510) still adds a very slight green shift to some photo shoots that I have not been able to completely remove in most cases. I now visually attempt to adjust all the images to correct for major abberations in color between big screen and computer screen. In other words, while we can demonstrate differences in black levels and shadow details of the AF115 rather well, but when it comes to color, the photos are only approximations of skin tone and color accuracy.
8/8/2010 - Art Feierman
LG AF115 Projector: Out of the Box Picture Quality
The LG AF115 turns out to be pretty good, right out of the box. That said, the grayscale temp is either too warm, (too much red), or with different settings, a bit too much blue. Better to have this projector calibrated, but non-critical folks, like my wife, (and anyone who thinks "vivid" mode on an LCDTV is accurate color), will enjoy the color balance and forgiveness of the picture.
The most notable thing, out of the box, is that Cinema is defaulting to a manual iris setting of 3. That makes it dark for the LG's maximum "best" mode brightness, but still average compared to the competition. I suggest the first thing you do, is to switch the iris to Auto 1 mode, for better blacks and more brightness both. What a difference - far brighter, and better blacks...
The brighter modes of the AF115 are all very, very cool. Change the color temp to a warmer one for immediate color improvement with no dramatic loss of brightness.
There was no point in doing a full calibration - I merely adjusted color by "eyeball" (using a color chart helps a bit). As this is not a production unit, no doubt full production AF115's will have newer, more improved software, and therefore, most likely publishing our settings would probably not give you the same color on a full production AF115 home projector.
The image immediately below is from Star Trek, on Blu-ray.
I really like LG's handling of skin tones, and that's 2 LG projectors in a row. I am extremely pleased, once again. I've watched hours of Olympics with the other LG, and plenty of sports with the AF115. I've also watched at least as well as at least 35 hours of movies on the AF115! Not the very best, but up there. I'll take this LG's skin tones, say, slightly, over the Epson 8500UB's. I was going to compare the AF115 to the PT-AE4000, but, even with the AF115 being dimmer than the CF181D projector, there was still no way to have the LG dynamic iris engaged, and have the image be anywhere near as "dim" as the Panasonic's.
The skin tones most likely are why the LG is oneof those particularly pleasing to watch projectors. In "best" mode, the LG seems to be rather forgiving - looking good over a wide range of HDTV and Blu-ray content.
The two images (immediately above and below) are from Lord of the Rings, from the new Blu-ray version. The LG did great on both scenes.
Below are an additional assortment of images to demontstrate skin tones. Remember, the same face will look markedly different under different lighting scenarios, such as full sunlight, filtered sunlight, gray overcast, nighttime, fluorescent lighting, and so on.
From the DVE-HD test disc (digital images):
Mr. Lau, from The Dark Knight:
While there are a few projectors that are able to best the LG in terms of skin tones, it's never by much. The "best" mode abilities of the LG are very, very good, when it comes to natural looking skin tones.
LG AF115 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
This LG is not an ultra-high contrast projector. That seems to be the biggest difference between the two LG models. The CF181D was "marginal" in terms of black levels - one of those that most of the time makes it as an ultra high contrast projector, but other times/content, might seem a touch short of those "better blacks".
The LG AF115 home projector, even with its dynamic iris on, is not an ultra high contrast projector. Overall, its black level performance should be most similar to the Epson Home Cinema 8100 which is a lot less money, and to a lesser degree, the blacks of the Mitsubishi HC3800, which is a DLP with great blacks for the under $1500 price (no dynamic iris).
Black level performance should be acceptable in the family room type environment - without full lighting controls, dark walls, etc., but even for a $2K price, the black performance will be the AF115's weakness.
First pair, the AF115, slightly overexposed (intended more, sorry), and normal. Directly below those two are the CF181D similar images. Those four are followed by an assortment of other projectors including JVC, and Panasonic.
For comparison, here's the same image from the far more expensive JVC DLA-RS25 (the image is a touch less bright, so less stars are visible in the photo).
And below is the Panasonic PT-AE4000, which, overall is a touch better overall, but it varies by scene, since they both use dynamic irises:
These two all digital images images below 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.
Shadow Detail Performance
The LG AF115 definitely performs when it comes to shadow detail, that is, it definitely out performs those projectors that I find come up a little short (like the Epson UB projectors).
Of course, I've mentioned in many reviews that projectors with less great black performance, are normally better at dark shadow detail, simply because the detail is brighter because they have to be above the brighter "blacks".
The first set of individual images for comparison 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 AF115, and then of course the CF181D, followed by the JVC RS25 and the Mitsubishi HC7000. Next is the the Vivitek H9080FD, an extremely expensive LED light source DLP projector. The last two in the sequence are the Panasonic PT-AE4000 and the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB.
On the left, is the AF115, the middle, the Epson 8500UB/9500UB, and on the right, the CF181D. 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 casino image. We're using the same smaller image for all samples, click for the larger version for the respective projectors.
LG AF115 projector:
LG CF181D projector:
Epson Home Cinema 8500UB:
JVC DLA-RS25 projector:
Panasonic PT-AE4000U projector:
Sony VPL-HW15 projector:
InFocus IN83 projector:
Mitsubishi HC7000 projector:
Click on left thumbnail image for the LG AF115, Epson Home Cinema 8500UB in the center, and the right for the PT-AE4000U.
In our dark train scene, the AF115 performs about middling. Look to the shrubs and trees on the right, especially those on the other side of the rails. The shadow detail is really very good. But, the blacks (even with the Auto Iris on 1), are no match for any of the ultra high contrast projectors.
Below, the LG AF115, doing the Bond night train scene from Casino Royale.
LG CF181D Projector:
Below, Optoma HD8600 Projector:
Below, JVC DLA-RS25 Projector:
Below, Epson Home/Pro Cinema 8500UB/9500UB Projector:
Bottom line LG AF115 Blacks and Shadow detail:
The AF115 combines extremely good dark shadow detail with average black levels make this projector a great choice in rooms with lighter colored walls, ambient light, etc., where blacks are already slightly impared.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
Oh boy! I may beat up the LG a bit for its only ok (good) black level performance, but when you look at the whole package, the vibrant and bright colors, with very good skin tones and tons of lumens, make the LG one of the better overall home theater projectors in its price range. Until you hit some of those really dark scenes, the LG definitely produces a picture quality that would be the envy of most of the competition.
I should also point out that the dynamic iris action of the LG in Auto 1, is pretty smooth - one of the best ones around. If you could drop this dynamic iris, say, into the Optoma HD8200, that would turn the HD8200 into some serious competition, but, alas, Optoma has been hurting itself for a few years, with dynamic iris issues.
A mix of additional images to show off the AF115:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
And here are a few more images, three more from Dark Knight, followed bya variety of additional assorted scenes from movies and digital video sources:
On a dark scene like the one, right above from Lord of the Rings, the image is all pretty dark, but blacks aren't critical. Still this LG appeared a little flat on the left side and his shirt.
LG AF115 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
This LG, like the last one, really looks good doing HDTV sports. And it can tackle some ambient light - always desireable.
Here's my room with a my the doors and one top window wide open while I tried a baseball game. Too much light, as you can see in the second image, immediately below. You can watch it, but it is significantly washed out. You need a real light cannon of a home theater projector to tackle this much ambient. Let's say, not the way you want to be watching.
Next, I closed down the doors to "half", closed the top window and opened the closer picture window about a foot's worth.
As it turns out, that was enough to do the trick. For sports and other general viewing the projector was able to handle this much window on a sunny day. You can see how the ambient light is lighting the speakers and chairs, and the front wall below the screen. You can see your friends!
You have to admit, the image above looks really good! Yet the ambient light is obvious on the speakers, and you can see I even have some of the windows partially behind the screen, open somewhat.
My only complaints about he AF115 when it comes to handling HDTV and sports include the same one that I had with the CF181D - that the CFI - creative frame interpolation to smooth fast motion doesn't work with 1080 60 signals, which, of course, is the vast majority of HDTV sports. That's downright silly, and should be corrected with updated firmware by LG, or at worst, improved for the next model. BTW it's not uncommon for some projectors with CFI to not support all source types/resolution. The Sanyo PLV-Z series, for example also doesn't do them all.
The other issue, relates to brightness. While the AF115 produces a very high quality picture for sports and general TV viewing, that's brighter than most, that makes for a great sports projector if you have good lighting control. The weakness is that the projector in brightest, doesn't have the muscle of a lot of competitors. That is to say, I really favor the other LG, for the extra brightness for HDTV and sports. Still, say compared to the similarly expensive Epson 8500UB, the AF115 can offer about 50% more "best mode" lumens, but only about 2/3 of the "brightest mode" lumen output.
Since most HDTV sports and significant content on HDTV is all digital these days, you may notice that the AF115, like just about all LCoS and 3LCD projectors, isn't quite as sharp as the better DLPs. Still, I've watched a ton of sports on both LGs and while a touch more sharpness is always welcome, I found them both to be more than satisfactory.