Mitsubishi HC6000: 1080p Home Theater Projector Review - Image Quality
Check out how the Mitsubishi HC6000 fared in our comparison report.
The image quality of the HC6000 (link to specs) review is organized into five topics: Handling of flesh tones, Black levels and shadow detail, Sharpness, Brightness, and finally, General image quality. Let's get started:
Mitsubishi HC6000 Home Theater Projector: Skin Tones
After our greyscale adjustment, skin tones were very impressive, very well saturated, and tonal qualities were, overall, very natural. Keep in mind, of course, that every movie will have slightly different production qualities, including different color balance, some better than others on skin tones. When the HC6000 looks good, it looks very good! The much improved black levels, I believe, really contribute to a better result than the older HC5000.
Below are a number of images from the usual DVDs, although most are Blu-Ray, and fewer are standard DVD (SD-DVD). As a result, you will only be able to compare one or two, to the HC5000 in it's review.
Two photos that you will find for both projectors, are of Gandalf and Arwen from Lord of the Rings, from SD-DVD.
Before you start viewing our many images, keep in mind that these images are here to support the text, not the other way around. This is due to all the limitations in the process of capturing, displaying and accurately viewing images. For starters a good digital SLR camera cannot capture the full dynamic range that a projector can produce. Then, of course you are viewing it on a non-calibrated monitor, and, perhaps even more telling, your monitor (and mine) have drastically lower contrast, higher black levels and less shadow detail than any respectable home theater projector. I recommend, therefore, that you take what you see, with the proverbial "grain of salt" (or maybe a pound of salt, to be safe).
The rest of the images in this section on skin tones, are all from high definition DVDs, in fact, all are from Blu-Ray disk, with the exception of those images from Phantom of the Opera (HD-DVD).
The image above, from Space Cowboys is a bit of a challenge. While flesh tones look pretty good, there is definitely some color shift in the process of photographing this frame. On our screen, the shirts are a pretty neutral gray, not the bluish gray you see here. The problem is attributed to the camera.
The image above, is from Shooter. In fact the skin tone performance of the HC6000 when watching this movie, was really excellent, in all types of scenes, from light to dark, indoor or outdoor lighting.
Two from Aeon Flux:
And lastly, two, from The House of the Flying Daggers:
Mitsubishi HC6000 Black Levels and Shadow Detail
I am truly impressed. If anything the HC6000 is the opposite of the HC4900 I reviewed just six weeks ago. The HC4900 is economy version, costing significantly less, but, at the same time, offering rather mediocre black levels, more reminiscent of low cost 720p projectors than typical 1080p projectors.
Not so the HC6000. Black level performance is excellent. Now Mitsubishi uses a new improved auto iris, which apparently works very, very well, because in many hours of normal viewing, the auto iris was never something I noticed. You really have to be looking for it, on the right type of lighting changes. As a result, I definitely recommend using the auto iris. Between it, and other improvements, the Mitsubishi HC6000 offers black level performance rivaling most of the DLP projectors. That, by the way, creates a significant shift in projector performance dynamics, since black levels has been one area where DLP's have always had a strong advantage over LCD projectors like the older HC5000.
The images above, all from Blu-ray disk, are, from top to bottom, from Space Cowboys, Aeon Flux, Planet Earth, and Aeon Flux.
While the HC6000 cannot match the best projectors out there - JVC's RS1, and Sony's VW50 Pearl, in terms of black levels, the blacks are pretty dark, as quickly noted by the letterbox areas when watching movies. Commonly used terms that might describe the HC6000's black level performance, would be to refer to the projector as having inky, or rich blacks. Mitsubishi, by the way attributes the significant improvement primarily to the much faster, and better Auto Iris.
When it comes to shadow details, an area of performance that is related to black levels, I found, again, that the HC6000 is extremely capable. I did find some loss of detail in very dark areas, a bit of black crush, but was able to easily offset that by setting up a custom user gamma (simple to do) where I tried several workable settings, the basic, being setting the low range (you can adjust low, middle and bright ranges separately) to +1, leaving mid and bright at 0. More extreme, I tried +2 in the low range, and +1 in mid, 0 in high, which really was excellent. I would guess that technically, I was lifting the gamma a little to much. Still, it provided very impressive blacks, and plenty of detail in both the dark and mid ranges. The images here were all photographed with the +2, +1, 0 gamma setting.
I'll start off with a slightly overexposed photo of the same Aeon Flux image seen immediately above. With the overexposed version you can see additional detail in dark areas that is lost by the camera with the normal exposure. I have also left in some of the letterbox at top and bottom to reference the darkest black possible.
Next is the image pair from Phantom of the Opera, the first a normal exposure, the second, noticeably overexposed (although not quite as much as I normally do - an error on my part, during the photo shoot). Still, you can easily make out the details on the walls both in the stone, and the painted frescos, even the rectangular openings, are visible for what they are.
From Space Cowboys, here is the "re-entry" image.
Clicking on the first image will give you an overexposed image from the HC6000, while clicking on the second one, will show you the Sharp XV-Z20000 DLP projector, which in my opinion, when reviewed, had the best black levels of any of the 1080p DLP projectors, and was close to the JVC RS1. The exposures, are a bit different, but, if you look into the dark areas on the right, at the partially lit up peaks, you get a good feel. The Sharp still has the advantage, but this is not a drastic difference by any means, and the HC6000 sells for about half the price.
Now, to further put things in perspective, here is a similar image from the HC4900 review, the HC6000's economy version:
The HC4900 is even more overexposed than the other two images, and so you can see a bit more detail, but to do so, you also acknowledge that the "blacks" are now a medium gray. With this same exposure the other two projectors would easily match the shadow details, but still have blacks that resemble black, not medium gray.
Here are a few more images that are good at revealing the black levels and shadow detail of projectors:
The two images below, are very dark frames from Space Cowboys. By seriously overexposing them you can make out the details in the black wall on the right side. Again, the first image is the HC6000, and the second one, the Sharp XV-Z2000. The third one is from the reigning champ, the JVC DLA-RS1, probably the least overexposed image but the one with slightly more details visible than the other two, as well as the blackest blacks. Lastly, the Mitsubishi HC4900, which definitely comes up short in both shadow detail and blacks.
A note on color balance. Images like these are taken at extremly slow shutter speeds, (often up to 10 seconds). Down in these depths, the digital camera is extremely sensitive to slight differences in color balance, and significantly exaggerates the color differences.
For lack of a better term. Look at the vertical stitching in the wall, and try to make out the object in the top right.
Here is the "watchfire" image from Lord of the Rings (standard DVD).
Click on the first (left) thumbnail for a large image normally exposed, and the second thumbnail for the same frame overexposed. Look at the details in the shed on the right and along the bottom for how much shadow detail you can pick out.
The second pair, are the same frame from the Panasonic PT-AE1000U
OK a couple more:
The first thumbnail below will give you a large (cropped), normally exposed image of this frame with very wide dynamic range. With the normal exposure, the camera cannot capture any detail at all in the satellite on the right side, but the astronaut, and planet below, look good. The right thumbnail will give you a large overexposed version, and show you all the satellite detail. When watching the HC6000 at home, of course you see the proper exposure, and all the shadow detail. (The thumbnail image (as is usual is from an older projector, and is only somewhat overexposed.)
Mitsubishi HC6000 home theater projector: Sharpness
The HC6000 projector, like its predecessor, produces an extremely sharp image. Whether the reasons are optics, LCD pixel structure, image processing, or voodoo, Overall, I'd say the HC6000 is the sharpest of the LCD projectors. Perhaps only the Sharp DLP projector, the XV-Z20000 may be the tiniest bit sharper. The difference would definitely not be visible at any reasonable viewing distance. Generally, when one looks at fine details, the HC6000 reveals them better than the competition. Perhaps more importantly the picture feels sharper. Owning a JVC RS1, which I consider about average in sharpness for a 1080p projector, when I switched over to the HC6000, I immediately felt I was looking at a sharper image.
The difference is not great, a very slight difference, relative to comparing a typical 1080p projector with the best of the 720p resolution projectors, but sharper, none-the-less. A couple of points. First, I like to sit close - about 11.5 feet from eyeball to screen, from a 128" diagonal, second, my vision (with glasses), is 20/15 so my vision is better than most people. Of course, the further back you sit (and the worse your vision), the less noticable a small difference will be.
The three thumbnails here, will give you highly cropped enlargements of the frame in the thumbnail. You'll be looking at the DTS logo from their sample disk (Blu-ray). You can easily see differences between the three projectors. On the left, the Mitsubishi HC6000, middle is the JVC RS1, and on the right, the Optoma HD81-LV.
This next image is from Aeon Flux, on Blu-Ray, note the sharpness in her eyes, and in the lose strands of her hair:
Lastly, a cropped view of a computer monitor from Space Cowboys on Blu-Ray. Again, a similar image is found in most reviews, so you can compare. Readability of the type on the computer screen is the key, and the HC6000 does exceptionally well. The thumbnail to the right is the Sharp XV-Z20000, as mentioned is virtually identical but here shows a slight edge. Don't forget, all these projectors have a sharpness control. I am generally very careful to minimize artifacts caused by over sharpening, but I do not really fine tune each one.
Click on the thumbnail for a large, cropped version of the original frame:
Bottom line: Excellent! The Mitsubishi HC6000 just reeks of sharpness, clarity... It's not technical definitions and semantics, it just feels - sharp.
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Mitsubishi HC6000 Overall Picture Quality
The HC6000 overall, is very good, in terms of picture quality. It is pretty strong in just about every area, with no glaring weaknesses. Not only very good black levels, and a sharp image, but the complete package has a good deal of depth to the image, and expression that is more typically used in conjunction with describing advantages of DLP projectors, not LCD models. Like most projectors, it does call for at least a basic calibration, to really get your money's worth.
Here are just a group of assorted images, some bright, some detailed, some dark, some with rich colors, some suble, to give you a rough idea of what you can expect.
First, a couple of photos fromHouse of the Flying Daggers - Blu-Ray DVD. It's hard to beat for rich, bright colors and textures. The HC6000 handled it very well.
The audio folks, DTS, that provide today's surround sound for movies (as does Dolby Labs), produce a sampler disk with great imagery and audio. Here are a few images from that disk, off of their Blu-Ray version.
Here's also one darker scene from the DTS disk:
From Aeon Flux on Blu-Ray:
More Blu-Ray DVD content - Night at the Museum:
From Phantom of the Opera on HD-DVD:
From SD-DVD, Lord of the Rings
Moving from movies to HDTV content, this is from the Blu-Ray disk of the BBC Discovery Channel HDTV series:
Space Cowboys - Blu-Ray edition:
Here are a couple more images, from SD-DVD, starting with Sin City, dark images with lots of shadow detail:
Lastly, it's time to check out some actual HDTV images. Please note, I don't do a grayscale calibration for HDTV, so these were default settings.
Moving on, it's general performance time, including; menus, remote control, brightness, projector screen recommendations, and more!