Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector - Image Quality
This is what separates the good from the average. It's all about the picture. The HC7900DW just so happens to be one of the "good" ones. It is a projector that has especially good image quality, most notably in terms of the naturalness of skin tones.. Let's investigate:
11/25/2012 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Out of the Box Picture Quality
Pretty good right out of the box, skin tones look pretty good, but calibrating it makes the skin tones really exceptional. Overall, I'd say Cinema mode provides color accuracy better than you'll see on most LCDTVs. Every mode looks good as long as you avoid using the High Brightness Color Temp. (Medium is good!) High Brightness mode is demonstrated/criticized, in the Performance section.
Game mode is definitely the best bet, when you want a brighter picture than "best mode".
Before I go on, the usual warning about the photos in this review:
A lot goes on in delivering these images to your eyeballs: There's the projected image, and any shifts due to the camera, (a Canon 60D professional dSLR), a Mac laptop for cropping and resizing, etc, using Adobe Bridge and Photoshop, then saved "for web" (super compressed), and displayed with your graphics card, monitor, and browser all, further coloring the HC7900 photos. In other words, they are useful, only to a point, as colors are not going to be all that accurate. Rest assured, the Mitsubishi HC7900DW will look better in your darkened theater, than these images on your computer monitor.
Back to the Mitsubishi HC7900DW review:
The projector is pleasing enough in most settings, and for most content, but again, calibrating this projector makes a difference. Don't believe me? If you purchase a HC7900DW, try our settings.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector - Flesh Tones
Hard to beat the Mitsubishi HC7900DW in terms of reproducing skin tones post calibration. I mean it looks really good. We start with our usual images of Arwen and Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. Arwen's face picks up the greenish caste from the woods she's riding through, and Gandalf - well, it's hard to fault the skin tones you see there. He just looked great.
Take your pick of the images below. Skin tones are consistently excellent looking.
Bottom Line on skin tones: I mean they are really excellent, but in saying that, although they aren't as perfect as the best, they are a highlight feature of the HC7900DW, as you will see in the dozens of photos in this review.
Here's our usual three Bond sequence - showing you how skin tones vary depending on the lighting. They can look very different, but still all be "right".
More images we like for considering skin tones: Note, the sports and HDTV images, like the one below, have Brilliant Color on, when photographed. That provided more brightness, but a slightly cooler - less red, image.
And that concludes our skin tones images.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Black Levels & Shadow Detail
The HC7900DW offers solid black level performance in its price range. Definitely not the best, but definitely what we call "ultra high contrast". This projector is roughly comparable in handling blacks to projectors like the Panasonic PT-AE8000 and the BenQ W7000. It won't, however, match the blacks of the Epson or the Sony. The Epson (HC5020UB) is slightly less expensive, the Sony a many hundreds of dollars more.
Let's start with a side by side image: Panasonic PT-AE8000 (left) vs. Mitsubishi HC7900DW (right) The HC7900 is a bit brighter in the comparison.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW: Pretty darn good. Like all the images below of the "starship", it is intentionally overexposed by several f-stops. This raises the blacks so they can be easily seen as dark grays, and so that after mentally adjusting for the slightly differing exposures, you get a very good idea of how the HC7900 stacks up to the competition.
Epson Home Cinema 5020: Image more overexposed (slightly, but blacks are still blacker than the HC7900). Definitely has more "pop", thanks to the better blacks.
PT-AE8000: More comparable to the Mitsubishi. This image is a touch more overexposed, but factor that in, and they are very similar in terms of black levels.
Sony VPL-HW50ES: A little more overexposed making it hard to compare, but still at least as black blacks as the Mitsubishi, so this again, indicates a projector with better black level performance than the HC7900.
Optoma HD8300: Very nice, offers slightly better blacks than the Mitsubishi, not quite up to the Epson or Sony. This is an older image not converted to grayscale, and definitely less overexposed.
Optoma HD33 (lower cost, $1499 3D capable projector): Blacks are not as good as the Optoma, the image is less overexposed.
JVC DLA-RS45: JVC's $7500+ projectors have killer blacks. Even this RS45 is very good, and better than the Mitsubishi, although not by a whole lot.
Runco LS10d projector ($27,000+): This one is included to make the point, that a lot more money doesn't mean any significant improvement in black levels. Think instead, that other things become more important.
Sharp XV-Z30000 (direct competitor): this is another good DLP projector. The image is a bit less overexposed. Blacks are roughly comparable, though I'd say they slightly favor the Sharp.
Shadow Detail Performance
Look at the shrubs on the right, on the far side of the tracks. Compare detail in the trees also on the right.
The HC7900DW's dark shadow detail is really excellent. I don't think any of the competing projectors can do better by a noticeable, visible amount. I can't say which of several is the very best, but this Mitsubishii projector is definitely one of the ones that seems to reveal the most.
As alway, ignore color shifts, long time exposures (up to 30 seconds, create problems).
Epson Home Cinema 5020 UB: The Mitsubishi's dark shadow detail is every bit as good, perhaps a touch better than this Epson which we find to be better than most.
PT-AE8000: Also very good dark shadow detail
Epson Home Cinema 3020: A lower cost projector ($1599), not an ultra-high contrast projector.
Optoma HD33: Another lower cost projector
Optoma HD8300: Nice blacks but not as good on dark shadow detail
Sony VPL-HW50ES: Better on blacks than dark shadow detail, but still very good.
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: HC7900 Projector - Bottom Line
Very good and Excellent. That's a pretty good combination for a $2500 home theater projector. Although the blacks could be improved, they are good enough that further improvement, while desireable (say to the Epson's level), is a legitimate trade off compared to the slightly better skin tones of the Mitsubishi. At the end of the day, you'll have to decide between the projectors. Black levels and shadow detail are two important abilities, but not all of the important ones.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW - Overall Color & Picture Quality
The bottom line: Overall picture quality has to be considered excellent in the HC7900DW projector's calibrated best mode. And remember, that's with Brilliant Color off. We'll save discussing Brilliant Color for our section below on HDTV and Sports. I'm getting ahead of our discussion found on the next page, but I just wanted to add, that the HC7900 also happens to be a projector with a very sharp image.
A mix of additional images to show off the Mitsubishi HC7900DW:
Here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports, including 3D
I did my sports viewing using AV Memory 2. Basically my AV2 started out the same as Mike's calibrated AV1 our "best mode." I turned on CFI, and more significantly, Brilliant Color as well. With BC on, the result is a slightly cooler image - a touch thin on reds, but that's not likely to be anyone's issue while watching sports.
Brilliant Color pumps up the image - lots of pop, but also slightly over the top. You start running out of shades, such as you can detect in a closeup of a face. Of course, even with a perfect projector, you'd still have some of that coming from the satellite or cable signal (from their heavy image compression), even before it hits the projector. Not anything the average LCDTV viewer isn't used to, but we projector folks mostly are a bit more finicky. Thus, Brilliant Color is fine for sports, for sitcoms, anytime you really don't "need" your absolute best picture. I found it to be a good compromise - extra brightness in exchange for a modest degradation of the picture quality.
Check out the photos.
I love the hobbit-like home above.
Mitsubishi HC7900DW Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports, and also 3D HDTV content
Only one complaint in 2D. I could have used more lumens. I've been spoiled. For sports I run about a 98 inch diagonal image. In my dedicated theater with all dark surfaces, and full lighting control, it's just dandy, but, should I turn my lights on and let in a little daylight, the HC7900DW runs out of lumens very quickly. In situations where I've got enough light for a sports gathering of friends, the Mitsubishi starts running out, when a Panasonic or Epson would still have plenty more brightness to compensate.
3D sports (off of DVR), was never quite bright enough for me filling that 98 inch diagonal. With the glasses on, there's almost nothing in reserve for handling any ambient light.
As long as you don't have too big a screen, and too much uncontrollable ambient light, the HC7900 is a very good projector for sports and other HDTV. At the 100" screen size it does just fine. Even though this projector can go up to about a 125" diagonal in 2D in a proper room, (thanks to its roughly 700 calibrated lumens), it really doesn't have the muscle to do that in 3D, or to handle a lot of ambient light for sports.
My Sunday fix of football was perfectly enjoyable with this Mitsubishi projector.
On the next page we consider brightness, sharpness and more.