Mitsubishi HC4000 Projector - Performance
9/18/2010 - Art Feierman
In this section we consider the brightness, sharpness, and image noise of the Mitsubishi HC4000 (check out Mitsubishi here) home theater projector. Also considered are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise.
Mitsubishi HC4000 Brightness
Although this is a pre-production projector I'm working with, I don't expect the full shipping models to be any brighter, as most of this projector's design has been around for a year and very stable.
I will note that there are some minor differences, but over all, the HC4000 (click for specs) measures a bit less bright than the HC3800. Such things aren't suprising, it could be lamp variation, or perhaps the characteristics of a Darkchip3 cause some loss, compared to a DC2. I had thought that to a large extent the difference between them was related to quality control, as well as perhaps a different angle of operation for the mirrors? No matter.
Here's a projector that's extremely bright in its best mode. The HC4000 (check out Mitsubishi here) manages about 950 lumens in its best mode (Cinema, Medium color temp, Brilliant Color on). That's almost as bright as the more expensive BenQ W6000.
When you need maximum lumens, the HC4000 doesn't have many more in reserve, measuring maximum brightness of 1151 lumens, with gamma mode on Sports, and color temp on medium, but that's still better than the average home theater projector (average is about 1000 lumens for "brightest" mode, and just about 500 lumens for "best" mode).
Lumen Output and Color Temp for various Gamma modes at 100 IRE (Brilliant Color off:
Auto= 567 @ 6673
Sports= 607 @ 6726
Video= 584 @ 6763
Cinema= 569 @ 6649
Effect of Color Temp setting on lumen output (Sports mode):
Medium (default) = 607
High Brightness = 872
Effect of Brilliant Color on lumen output (Sports mode):
Color Temp on High Brightness= 1150
That would indicate that Brilliant Color is adding about 32% more lumens to the image. That should be comparable in other modes.
Let's take a look at a couple of images - comparing Brilliant Color On (first image below), to off. The same exposure was used for both, so this provides you with a really good idea of what the difference in brightness is, in real life:
In Best Mode (Stored in User 1, based a modified Medium color temp, and Cinema gamma, with BC off:
Best mode BC on:
Sports mode BC off
Sports mode BC on
Here's another pair:
Even our Sports mode at its brightest, still looks pretty darn good, color wise.
Lumen Output on Low Lamp (Sports mode, Medium Color Temp, Brilliant Color off) = 460
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Sports mode):
Zoom out= 624
Mid zoom= 607
Zoom in= 517
The different lens positions aren't causing a huge difference in brightness, nor slight enough to dismiss from your notice. Basically, mounting at the closest (the zoom lens is a 1.5:1), buys you about an extra 20% more lumens. Personally, I figure most zoom lenses are at their worst, at their extremes, so I'd suggest backing off from the closest possible position, at least a little.
Since there are tons of lumens for movie viewing, many will take advantage of the quieter low lamp mode, which is plenty bright, and has an extremely long lamp life rating (5000 hours).
Low lamp will drop the brightness of the projector by approximately 24%.
HC4000 Low Power mode Turning Brilliant Color off, and lamp to low, and the Mitsubishi HC4000 projector still manages 460 lumens. That approximate percent should also hold true for all modes.
Since the HC4000 projector has a 1.5:1 zoom lens, we measured the difference in brightness betwwen full wide angle, mid-point, and full-telephoto settings on the lens. Full wide angle (the projector filling the screen from its closest distance), increases brightness by a modest 7.5%. Full telephoto decreases brightness by 9.3% compared to the mid-point.
Pre-calibration we measured these color temperatures (target is 6500K) over the grayscale range.
30 IRE – 6673K
50 IRE – 6472K
80 IRE – 6522K
100 IRE – 6649K
The Calibration page will provide the settings we used. That includes basic settings as well as gain and offset. We will revise, with numbers from a production projector if there are color table changes, between this unit and full production ones. I don't expect that to be the case, though.
Mitsubishi HC4000 Sharpness
The HC4000 projector is definitely one of the sharper ones out there. In viewing side by side with the lower cost Optoma HD20, the HC4000 was slightly sharper. I would say that it is sharper than most of the 3LCD competition as well, including some of the more expensive ones like the Panasonic and the Epson projectors. In a side by side, the BenQ W6000, has a very slight edge, but it is exceptionally sharp in its own right, as BenQ's have tended to be.
For your consideration, our usual close up images:
Top left: HC4000, Top Left Center - LG CF181D, 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: BenQ W6000.
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.
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right: HC4000, Optoma HD20, BenQ W6000, and Sharp XV-Z15000. I haven't seen any projector do better than the BenQ when it comes to trying to read the type on the on screen menus in this scene, but the Mitsubishi HC4000 is so close as to not matter. By comparison, the Optoma HD20 is visibly soft compared to the other two, and the more expensive Sharp XV-Z15000 (which we commented on it's lens softness), is somewhere in between.
Mitsubishi HC4000: Bottom Line Sharpness
I will say the same thing as last year's HC3800: Sharpness is a major strength. I'm jealous. My far more expensive JVC RS20 can't produce quite as sharp an image, and that projector is more than 5 times the price. I don't really notice when watching movies, but am aware of the diffference with some nice 1080i hi-def sports, and other top quality digital content. Mitsubishi does extremely well, when it comes to sharpness. I doubt any of the ultra-high contrast 3LCD home theater projectors can beatm and most can't match the HC4000's sharpness, and that includes Mitsubishi's own HC7000, which is close.
This particular HC4000 leaks a fair amount of light out the lens, mostly above it. While it isn't a critical amount, there is enough of it to mention. If you have a white wall above your screen (or below if inverted (ceiling mounted), you might notice on the darkest scenes. There is also a small amount coming out of side vents, however, it's not much unless you are right in line with the one narrow spot of light which is a touch bright. I imagine it would be enough to annoy someone sitting next to it and slightly below and exactly in the line of fire, but a few inches any way, would solve the problem, even if it exists.
Mitsubishi has done a nice job, or the processing they have opted for, is very clean. The manufacturers, and the companies supplying them with various image processing technologies, are getting awfully good at it. No worries, unless that's what you do for a hobby - go looking for image noise. That said, like most DLP projectors, there is a little more general noise than on non DLPs, but the Mitsubishi seems a little cleaner than the other lower cost projectors.
The HC4000 by virtue of being a DLP projector, is noisy. That shouldn't surprise many. First, it's a DLP, and they tend to be noisier, than the other technologies. The HC4000 is a smaller projector, as well, making it tough to baffle the fan noise.
We don't measure audible noise levels, but I'd put the HC4000 in the mid-20 decibles in low power and probably about 30, one or 2 db higher, in full power mode.
For most potential owners, the audible noise should not be a deal breaker. Further, for those quiet movies, you'll probably have more than enough lumens in low power mode, where the projector is nice and quiet, and should offend almost no one.