LG CF3D Projector - Image Quality
LG CF3D 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 CF3D 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 commentary. In reality, the projectors always look better than the images in our reviews. From a color standpoint, my dSLR camera 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 CF3D, the photos are only approximations of skin tone and color accuracy.
11/24/2010 - Art Feierman
LG CF3D Projector: Out of the Box Picture Quality
The LG CF3D looks respectable out of the box, but for those seeking highly accurate colors (such as home theater enthusiasts), the projector will benefit from a calibration. Overall, the color in "best" mode, was a bit cool, averaging about 7500K, although white was closer to 7000K and the darkest areas approaching 8000K.
The image immediately below is from Star Trek, on Blu-ray.
Post calibration, the skin tones look really good, very natural, and the color temp measurements are downright excellent, which helps explain why the LG tends to look really good, no matter what content I throw at it in 2D (or the limited 3D selections I have). Consider these examples:
The images above and below are from The Fifth Element (Blu-ray.)
Below are a wide 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.
LG CF3D Black Levels & Shadow Detail
If the CF3D is thought of as a home theater projector, then I have to report that black level performance is not impressive. It's rather entry level - more like performance of an under $1500 home theater projector than something with a $15,000 price tag.
But, then, this really isn't a home theater projector - it's a commercial projector, or rather, a projector that, due to its abilities (3D in particular), that will make it viable in a number of different types of applications, by far, most of them business, education, or government, but also some AV industry related applications and screening rooms and home theaters too.
On the other hand, the black level performance of the CF3D may not rival better home theater projectors, but it probably isn't significantly better or worse than the average digital cinema projector in your favorite movie theater.
For commercial applications, the LG CF3D's black level performance, is just fine to very good! A typical commercial LCD based projector in the $10K+ range, probably can't match or beat it at black levels, and even the typical DLP, is similar, some better, some worse.
I go into the black level performance here, more than on other commercial projectors, because of the 3D abilities, and that this projector likely will end up in a variety of applications where image performance is important, including screening applications.
Image time: We start with the starship image from The Fifth Element. It gives you a good idea of the black level performance. Below it are similar images from a few home theater projectors.
Below is a similar image from LG's $2500 range home theater projector, the LG CF181D.
And below is the Panasonic PT-AE4000, which, over all is a touch better, but it varies by scene, since they both use dynamic irises:
Below, an all digital image from the Digital Video Essentials disc.
Shadow Detail Performance
Shadow detail performance of the LG CF3D appears to be good, certainly from a commercial standpoint. While I did a lot of viewing of movie type content, my tendency is to sacrifice a little dark shadow detail, (crushing darkest shadow detail), for lower blacks. Regardless, though, the projector with brightness and contrast properly adjusted, has very good shadow detail. Dark shadow detail appears very respectable.
Below, the LG, doing the Bond night train scene from Casino Royale. Unfortunately, this image immediately below was shot with the projector pointing at a 3D screen with a bit of a hot spotting problem. (That problem is all screen, none LG.) That noted, you can still make out most of the dark shadow detail in the lower right shrubs above the tracks.
LG CF181D projector:
Below, Optoma HD8600 Projector:
Below, JVC DLA-RS25 Projector:
Below, Epson Home/Pro Cinema 8700UB:
Optoma HD20 (entry level home theater projector):
Not bad, considering the home theater competition!
Bottom line LG CF3D Blacks and Shadow detail:
The CF3D combines very good dark shadow detail combines with average black level performance for a commercial projector. Black level performance is fairly entry level compared to home theater projectors, but very respectable for most other applications.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
Post calibration the CF3D easily could be a home theater projector. The calibration produced excellent results and the image quality supports those results!
A mix of additional images taken using the CF3D:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
From a trailer:
LG CF3D Projector - 3D Image Quality
What makes the CF3D projector different - and particularly interesting is its 3D capabilities. This is one of the very, very few non-single chip DLP projectors available with 3D capability. Most of the 3D projectors out there are 720p and WXGA models under $1000, but those are very basic projectors, and, they do 3D differently.
The LG CF3D is almost two completely separate projectors in one box. And that's quite literally!
The CF3D projector has six LCoS panels, organized into two classic engines with 3 chips - a red, green, and blue. The projector even has separate lamps for each. Where it becomes one projector, is when the two beams of light are combined and exit the lens to the screen.
The first thing you get having two separate engines and lamps, is far, far more lumens than those low priced projectors.
The CF3D is rated 2500 lumens, and does deliver. Of course you'll lose over half your brightness for 3D, but that still makes it bright - about 1000 lumens. We still haven't figured out how to effectively and consistently measure 3D brightness (but that will come), just figure here, around 1000 lumens, compared to a couple or maybe 400 lumens max in 3D for those low cost projectors.
In other words, if you want to put up a respectable image in a room that isn't virtually fully darkened, even on a 100" screen, those low cost projectors just don't have any muscle for handling ambient light.
Obviously, therefore, the LG CF3D is going to be far more suitable than any of those dim projectors for any commercial applications, be they education, scientific, business, since few non-home theater applications want to be shown in a fully darkened or very dark room.
The other thing about the LG CF3D projector, is the 3D technology itself. The LG differs from most of the low cost projectors in that it does 3D, using low cost passive glasses, instead of those (currently) $100 - $300 a pair active shutter glasses.
Instead, the LG glasses use circular polarization, and cost only a few bucks a piece.
The practical trade-off (in exchange for saving a small fortune on glasses), is that passive systems like the LG, do need a 3D optimized screen.
The 3D image of the CF3D
The CF3D is one of 5 projectors we've worked with that are 3D capable, and where we viewed various 3D content. Sorting out what's important to a good image has been the challenge, and even more so, as none of the projectors really can produce an image even "virtually" free of crosstalk - the bane of 3D.
Crosstalk is essentially (in 3D parlance), some of what's supposed to be one image (left eye, or right) is also in the other side. It creates a bit of ghosting. Viewing several movies and trailers, and a whole lot of varied 3D sample content, no 3D projector appears really clean. On some content, the CF3D looks very good, on others, the crosstalk is occasionally noticeable.
Panic not - if your application is more commercial, a bit of crosstalk is probably annoying, but a minor price to pay for the advantages of 3D for education, training, analysis, and rendering.
I have seen, massive amounts of 3D, at trade shows - virtually all the 3D projector demos at CEDIA, for example, but also lots of LCDTV's doing 3D. I've never seen really, really, clean 3D yet! But there definitely are differences.
The other "flaw" I see with the CF3D is that there is a noise issue, or what appears to be one, relating to the screens. When I was viewing the Grand Canyon (National Geographics) in 3D, I often noticed a texture (noise) that seems to be the impact on the screen surface. It sort of reminds me of similar (but far less noise) from some screens, with 2D viewing. Once home theater projectors started coming out at 1080p, I started to notice something "similar" on my old Firehawk screen, a reason I ultimately replaced it with the Firehawk G3 - with its much finer surface (for 1080p resolution).
I am not saying that the 3D noise is the same type of noise, but it certainly reminds me of that.
Bottom line, is that one sees this live texture, while viewing. This, by the way, is not unique to the CF3D, or even to this type of 3D technology. I see it with the single chip DLPs and also on LCDTVs. I imagine that reducing this aspect of noise will be something to look forward to over the next couple of generations. Still, its too soon, and I have too much to learn, to really pinpoint the specific causes, or the cures.
Just, that 3D will continue to improve, and there's lots of improvement to come. The CF3D, however, is the first, and only reasonably bright 3D projector I've been able to lay my hands on. It won't be the last, however, as we're expecting a Digital Projection M series 3D projector in the next month or so. That one too, like the CF3D is aimed primarily at commercial and educational markets. (Sticker - about $18,000, I believe.)
Viewing the Grand Canyon Blu-ray disc was rather dazzling, despite the small 82" screen. I had plenty of lumens to spare, even with modest lighting. For that reason, I'm really looking forward to 3D on the 130 inch diagonal 2.4:1 Stewart screen.
I viewed a lot of additional content, including a number of educational and scientific titles, featuring asteroids, neural pathways, drug interactions, math, and more. Not everything in the way of content, that I've been given, was set up to work with the CF3D's choices, but many did.
Only one 3D projector I've worked with seemed to do better than the CF3D in terms of image quality and noise related, and interestingly, that was a single chip DLP (an InFocus), that is part of Lightspeeds 3D system with Modulator. That actually lets you use passive glasses (and 3D screen) instead of active glasses, with a typical single chip design. The Lightspeed system, however, was operating at faster frame rates, and seemed to have less crosstalk, though it was still not hard to spot, if you are looking for crosstalk (it's sort of there all the time).
The CF3D is either the best, or second best 3D viewing of the projectors we've looked at. I'd say there were times the Lightspeed was smoother - less artifacts (but not as bright!).
All considered, the CF3D, though, with the lumens behind it, is the most ideal solution from an image standpoint of the 3D solutions we've had to work with, to date. I do expect to enjoy watching the LG fill that new, larger 3D screen.
I can't help but like the LG with its bright 3D, of course when we get in the Digital Projection projector and other commercial 3D projectors, we'll have an idea how the LG compares to the most direct 3D competition. That is, of course if the budget exists for a projector of this LG's caliber.