LG CF181D - Performance
2/20/2010 - Art Feierman
LG CF181D Brightness
The LG CF181D is one of the brighter 1080p home theater projectors out there. Immediately below are the measured lumens of each of the preset modes, (and also the color temperature they produced at 100 IRE) (white)
LG CF181D Projector - Uncalibrated:
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):
Vivid= 1064 @ 7356, 1380 with Iris fully open (Manual 32)
Standard= 608 @ 9523K lamp on low, 852 lumens with Lamp on High
Cinema= 503 @ 7031K (note that's with the default iris setting of manual, 3)
Sport= 763 @ 11690K
Game= 852 @ 8998K
Expert 1 and 2= 503 @ 7045K
After doing our calibration of "best" mode, we measured Cinema (set up as Expert 1) at an awesome 898 lumens. That would be with the Iris set to Auto 1, for the best blacks the LG can achieve.
In the very "brightest" mode, (Vivid), we measured 1380 lumens. However, I played with several other "bright" combinations including Sports and Vivid, with color temp set, usually, to natural. The point is, you can have excellent color in a brightest mode, and still get 1100 to 1380 lumens depending on how good you want the color. For much of my sports viewing I used Expert 2
The Effect of zoom lens positioning on brightness: Our standard measurements reported for the LG CF181D are done with the zoom at its mid-point as with all reviews. Here are relative numbers based on Cinema mode (lamp on high, auto iris 1), for different lens positioning. From a percentage standpoint, the differences will be the same for any mode, as you change the lens angle. Basically wide angle is about 5% brighter than mid-point on the zoom, and telephoto would be about 13% dimmer than mid point.
Considering the zoom lens is a 1.8:1 zoom, that would indicate very good optics as the total drop is only about 18%! With many 2:1 zoom lenses (Panasonic, Epson...), the drop is about 40% from full wide, to full telephoto, and the LGs drop is less than half of that.
Zoom out (closest position - wide-angle): 526 lumens
Mid-zoom: 503 lumens
Zoom in: 437 lumens (furthest from the screen - tele)
Note: Mike measured the effect of lens position, while the Cinema mode still had the iris at Manual 3 (about as dim as the LG is capable of), thus the low lumen numbers.
The 18% drop from wide angle to telephoto lens settings should be the same, regardles of what mode you choose.
The Effect of low lamp (eco) mode on brightness:
Low lamp power, Standard mode: 608 lumens
High lamp power, Standard mode: 852 lumens
That translates into a drop of approximately 29% when going from full, to low power lamp setting. That's a slightly bigger drop than average. Most home theater projectors drop about 20 - 25% brightness going to low power.
The LG CF181D, by comparison, definitely has the lumens to spare. It easily fills my screen, with enough extra horsepower to make me happier, when viewing sports, than I ever have been with my JVC for sports.
The LG CF181D is an LCoS projector. However, it's more like an LCD projector in one regard, and that is, it lacks the digital pixel alignment feature found on JVC and Sony (and even Cinetron) LCoS projectors. Most 3LCD projectors could also sport this feature, but generally, the LCD crowd hasn't added it - yet.
That's OK. This particular LG had very good pixel alignment, better than most 3 chip projectors I get to see.
As a result, the image was every bit as sharp as the other LCoS projectors that have been though here, and for that matter, the Epson 8500UB. I have the Mitsubishi HC6800 here, which I haven't fired up yet, but, if there's one LCD competitor that might appear a touch sharper, I suspect it will be that one, as Mits has always put out particularly sharp projectors.
Overall, I'd describe the LG CF181D as one of the sharper "typically sharp" 1080p projectors. It's still not quite sharp enough to be considered a step up, which is mostly made up of single chip projectors. For movie watching, I have no issues at all. For my sports, and notably the Olympics, I know that I've got two DLP projectors here, that I would say appear sharper enough to be relatively "razor sharp" on the sports. The LG can't quite match them. (One is the low cost Mitsubishi HC3800.)
For your consideration, our usual close up images:
Top left: LG CF181D, Top Left Center - Planar PD8150, Top Right Center - JVC RS25, Top right - Mitsubishi HC7000
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AE4000, left center: Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, right center: Optoma HD8200, right: InFocus IN83
Please note, we are slowly switching to using the Playstation video logo as our sharpness example, instead of the old dts-hd logo. The original sample test disc from dts died, and they can't find me another.
Below: Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right: LG CF181D, DLA-RS25, Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, and BenQ W6000. The DLA-RS25 holds its own against most, but not a few of the sharpest DLP projectors.
LG CF181D: Bottom Line Sharpness
About as sharp as LCoS or 3LCD projectors get. I was generally very pleased when watching movies. On 1080i sports, I could have wished for a touch more perceived sharpness, but I'm not complaining. If you want a projector that appears to be sharper, you are going to have to stick with single chip DLPs. Bottom line, no issue here!
No issues to report. Very little light detectable anywhere but a fan vent, and not enough to even remotely be considered an issue. Through the lens leakage is extremely minimal, better, than, say, the leakage on the JVCs, which do typically leak a bit of light. Of course, it's more noticeable on the JVC's since their blacks are so much blacker. Still, nothing to be concerned with here.
LG CF181D Image Noise
General image noise has not been an issue. However, strange flickering has been ocurring, most notably while watching several of the Olympics segments. Further investigation...
LG CF181D Audible Noise
The LG is fairly typical of LCoS projectors. Noise levels are acceptable, but a good deal noisier than the quietest projectors (such as the Panasonic PT-AE4000, and the Mitsubishi LCD based projectors), but still quieter than any of the DLP projectors out there, and perhaps, a touch quieter than some other LCoS projctors At full lamp power, some of those folks especially audio noise adverse may not be happy with the audible noise, but it should not be an issue for the vast majority.
LG claims 23 db in low power (eco) mode. I put full power noise (estimated) at 27 to 29 db.
Bottom line on noise - few will have any issue with the LG, and for those really, really noise adverse, well, the LG's 23 db in eco mode, would be considered very quiet, and the LG in eco mode is still brighter than all but a very few projectors running at full power. Not to worry!