Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector - Image Quality
These HC4000 scene images below are either Blu-ray or HDTV. Consider that by the time these Mitsubishi HC4000 projector images get to your eyeball, via digital SLR, software, browsers, and your monitor, there are definite color shifts, saturation differences, contrast difference... The HC4000 images are here to support the commentary, but keep in mind these limitations when trying to compare images from the HC4000 projector with other home theater projectors. Take them all, "with a grain of salt". Those images relating to black level performance and sharpness, however, are pretty reliable, color accuracy, getting to you (and dynamic range) are the issues.
Different projector technoogies noticeably affect the pictures I shoot. I must say I'm not particularly pleased with this set, which is a bit dark in general and the color temp appears too cool - thin on reds (and also yellows) not sure exactly why this batch was off this much. Still, they don't look bad. I will reshoot some when a full production version of the HC4000 arrives.
I think it's safe to for me to say that all home theater projectors, including the Mitsubishi HC4000 definitely look better live, than in even the best looking images here would hint.
9/19/2010 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC4000 Out of the Box Picture Quality
I was no the least surprised when I found the HC4000 (specs here) projector's "out of the box" color to be particularly good, in fact the whole picture in general starts out with some impressive looking preset combinations, Though some are a bit oversaturated, and green is a touch strong in some ranges, the less than dramatic color inaccuracies are easily corrected with a calibration.
Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector - Flesh Tones
After Mike calibrated the HC4000 (check out Mitsubishi here) sample, skin tones proved to be excellent. Not only does the projector closely follow 6500K across most of its range, but the end result, is very good skin tones. Yes, we've seen better, but like the HC3800 before it, it is a bit better than most similarly priced 3LCD and DLP projectors. Skin tones are rich, accurate, and have that DLP "look and feel" which translates into intense without being oversaturated. Nice! Of course if you take advantage of engaging Brilliant Color, you will get more lumens, and more pop, but the skin tones will become a touch less natural (as is normally the case when you mess with dynamic controls, which most projectors not provide).
There are plenty of our favorite skin tone images, and as you look through them, you'll have to admit they look pretty good, but, again, I note that the images came out looking a bit thinner on reds than the original projected image.
Below are our three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first - full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, filtered sunlight in the third image. And as one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond - Daniel Craig - to have different looking skin tones. All look pretty good!
More images we like for considering skin tones:
From The Dark Knight:
From the DVE-HD calibration disc (digital source material, not film):
and finally one from Quantum of Solace (Bond):
Mitsubishi HC4000 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Below, we have two versions of our satellite image from Space Cowboys. The first is normally exposed, the one below it, a good bit overexposed so you can see where the shadow detail is... And it's there! Below are more images from different projectors, including the older HC3800. Exposures are all slightly different, but you can discern that some do better than others.
The HC4000 does very well. If you have more budget and crave great blacks, there are a number of projectors. But for those projectors selling for, say, under $1500, I haven't seen one with "next level" blacks. Thus, the HC4000 performs well. It's blacks are even better than the HC3800, which bested the other low cost DLP's last year. It's a serious competitor for the Epson Home Cinema 8100 which is 3LCD powered, and does have a dynamic iris. The Epson can definitely do blacker blacks on those scenes that are very dark without any really bright areas, but you pay the usual price - some compresion of the brighter areas, etc. The Mitsubishi is natural, so no changing overall levels as the iris opens and closes - nothing to distract. On medium and brighter scenes though, the Mitsubishi easily holds its own, and bests the Epson. The black areas in a bright scene will be darker on the HC4000, for a little more pop.
In other words, you can move up to $2000 and some loose change and have a choice of a number of "ultra-high contrast" projectors, with darker blacks, but so far, it's looking pretty good at its price, with only a couple of 3LCD projectors to challenge its blacks.
The overexposure lets you see some dark detail that is there, which otherwise would be hard or impossible to dis. At least as important is that it raises the black of the sky to grays you can compare. You just have to compensate for the differing exposures.
Epson Home Cinema 8100
Next, is the starship image from The Fifth Element. Again, we start of with a close to normal exposure, and one overexposed. That's followed by the same frame on a number of additional projectors.
Sony VPL-HW15 (LCoS projector under $3K)
Vivitek H1080FD ($899)
BenQ W6000, which costs almost twice as much.
Consider two additional (digital) images which are good ones for observing black levels.
The image immediately below is from The Dark Knight. I've intentionally overexposed it to make a point. This is the type of scene where the difference in black level performance makes a huge difference. Because the outside areas of the scene, and for that matter the men's jackets are pretty black, with little detail at all, projectors with just "good" black levels look very flat. Below the HC4000 silhouette image, is the same scene using the BenQ W6000, and then, the Sony VPL-VW15, both of which are definitely "step up" competitors.
The dynamic iris, with almost all projectors (JVC excepted, as they manage great black levels without a dynamic iris), of course, is a key, today, to enhancing contrast and improving black levels.
The Mitsubishi HC4000, as an entry level projector, manages its black level performance without a dynamic iris. Below is a "demontration" of one of the issues affecting the use of dynamic irises.
Let's look at the two pair of images below. The first pair are the older HC3800 images, which is fine for this purpose: The frames are only a few apart. With the Mitsubishi, or any projector without a dynamic iris, these two images will look much like the first two. You can see that the black levels remain unchanged. That is greatly different when compard to the second pair, taken with the more expensive BenQ W6000, which has an iris.
With the BenQ, you can see how the background lightens when the credits are up. This type of visible shifting of the image due to iris action is not an issue with the HC4000. As I indicated earlier, the HC4000 doesn't quite match the darkest black level performance on the darkest scenes, but throw something bright and of decent size into a dark image, and bingo, the W6000's background lightens. as would all projectors with a dynamic iris.
The second pair (W6000) are more overexposed, which was done to make it easier to see the difference between the blacks with and without credits on the projector with the dynamic iris. BTW, do not use these images to equate the black levels of the two projectors, the frames taken with the HC4000 were done without signficant overexposure, unlike the W6000 images.
Shadow Detail Performance
Same as last year's version: The detail of the HC4000 is about as good as it gets. Most impressive. This shouldn't be surprising, previous Mitsubishi does have a history of home projectors with a particularly good shadow detail.
For the last few years I've been using a very overexposed close up of Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys, a few frames after the image below. It's just time for a change. This image I think will prove to be a better one, but it will take a few months before we have the same image on file from a few other projectors.
Below is a heavily overexposed scene from Lord of the Rings. The overexposure lets you see all the details in the shed on the right, the structure on the left, and the plants and ground along the lower right. The HC4000 offers a great amount of dark shadow detail.
Click on left thumbnail image for the Mitsubishi HC4000, Sony VPL-HW15 in the center, and the right for the Optoma HD20
Our last comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Mitsubishi, followed by older HC3800, the BenQ W6000, then Sony VPL-HW15, the Sharp XV-Z15000.
All considered, the HC4000 reveals more of the dark shadow detail than just about any other projector we've recently worked with. Most impressive. In reality it was essentially identical to the HC3800, but our photo of the HC4000 is a little darker.
Bottom Line, regarding shadow detail and black levels. The HC4000 is most impressive on shadow detail. True, the darkest details are a touch harder to see than on the HC3800 (because they are darker), but that's the price of having blacker blacks. Blacks, I repeat, are about as good as I've seen in a entry level or even by projectors up to $3000, that do not use a dynamic iris. It bests those DLP's that cost less, and I've already described how it compares to say the Epson 8100 - depending, on the characteristics of the image. In both these areas, and the effect they have on the image you are enjoying, the HC4000 more than earns the extra price over the real entry level projectors just under $1000.
Mitsubishi HC4000 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
OK time to wrap this long image section up (except for HDTV and sports).
It is exactly because everything comes together, without any serious weakness, that the HC4000 will surely be one of my real favorites, as the HC3800 has. It's a great family room projector because it can still put a very respectable picture up, even with more than minimal ambient light. Skin tones are good, dark colors are rich and well saturated (a DLP "characteristic")
Here's the "crew" image from Space Cowboys - first one is the HC4000, then the more expensive BenQ W6000:
A mix of additional images to show off the Mitsubishi HC4000:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
And here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
The Mitsubishi HC4000, at its brightest - a combination of Sports gamma, and High Brightness color temp, measured 1151 lumens on this pre-production projector. That said, color accuracy is compromised for lumen output. For a better compromise, with some very respectable color, use the Video, Auto, or Cinema gamma, and Color Temp on Medium to still get over 950 lumens. Still, for a brightest mode, the color is respectable, better than many others in their brightest mode. Average brightness for 1080p projectors falls right about there - around 1000 lumens, so, for sports viewing, and dealing with ambient light, the HC4000 projector is just on the high side of average brightness.
Actually, for that matter, just about every combination of this projector except when selecting Cool or Warm color temperatures, yields upward of 900 lumens (with Brilliant Color on), and we can't think of a normal use for the Cool (way too cool) or Warm (way too warm) settings.
In other words, you get average to slightly brighter than average output for your sports and general HDTV, TV viewing with some ambient light present. Very nice in a low cost projector. That said, a couple of the even lower cost DLP projectors are brighter, notably the Vivitek H1080FD, and the lower cost BenQ W1000 - the BenQ for example measured just over 2100 lumens at brightest, and it too does pretty decent color in its brightest mode. One reason the BenQ and Vivitek can be a good chunk brighter is that they use slower color wheels, which means if you are at all rainbow sensitive, you will see rainbows, on the appropriate scenes (typically dark scenes with fast moving white moving across the dark, or the other way around). In other words, if sports and hi-def TV content are your thing, and you don't care about black levels etc., and you aren't rainbow sensitive. I should note, that I occasionally notice rainbows on the HC4000 projector - it's not as good as some more expensive projectors with the fastest color wheels, but the HC4000 is probably as good, in terms of minimizing rainbows, as any projector under $5000, just two years ago... Of course if you are really rainbow sensitive, you might look buying a 3LCD or LCoS projector.
A few HDTV and Sports images coming (they have been taken, but I'm already on the road to CEDIA. I will try to get them up, quickly.
Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports