Mitsubishi HC8000D Projector - Image Quality
Better blacks, and better out of the box color separate the HC8000D's picture from its lower cost sibling, the HC7900.
1/31/2013 - Art Feierman
Mitsubishi HC8000D Out of the Box Picture Quality
My first reaction was that right out of the box, skin tones were a bit too red, especially on not brightly lit scenes. Mike, when calibrating it, also immediately commented on it, describing faces as looking a little sunburned. Fortunately, easy to fix!
For brightest usable mode, Game or 3D, look pretty good, if a touch cool, yet that sunburn seems to remain in faces, but to a lesser extent.
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 HC8000D 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 HC8000D will look better in your darkened theater, than these images on your computer monitor.
Back to the Mitsubishi HC8000D 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 HC8000D, try our settings.
Mitsubishi HC8000D Projector - Flesh Tones
Hard to beat the Mitsubishi HC8000D in terms of reproducing skin tones post calibration. Impressive! 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 - his skin tones look pretty natural.
Take your pick of the images below. Skin tones are consistently excellent looking, allowing for the setting (and director's intent).
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 HC8000D, 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.
That concludes our batch of assorted skin tones images.
Mitsubishi HC8000D Black Levels & Shadow Detail
The HC8000D 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: Epson HC5020UB (left) vs. Mitsubishi HC8000D (right) We use the Epson as our primary reference for black levels. The Epson isn't unbeatable, there are a few more expensive projectors that can beat it at blacks, but it, so far, has taken on all comers under $3000 without fear. The HC8000 has very respectable "ultra-high contrast" blacks, close, but not quite up to the Epson.
Mitsubishi HC8000D: Really very good blacks.. Like all the images below of the "starship", it is intentionally overexposed by a few 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 HC8000 stacks up to the competition.
And here, right below, is the same image taken with the "family room" HC7900DW. On this image (which has a decent amount of medium lit area (the starship) there's very little difference between the two projectors, but on the darker, Bond night train scene below, the blacker blacks are more noticeable.
Epson Home Cinema 5020: Image more overexposed (slightly, but blacks are still blacker than the HC8000, as well as the HC7900). Definitely has more "pop", thanks to the better blacks.
PT-AE8000: More comparable to the Mitsubishi. Factor in the slight differences in exposure, then the HC8000D should prove to be a touch better at blacks.
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 HC8000D.
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 HC8000D's dark shadow detail, like the HC7900DW's 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.
To start, our Bond "Night Train" Epson HC5020UB on the left, HC8000D on the right. (Converted to grayscale) The Epson is a little bit brighter, so due to the massive overexposure, more bright area detail is lost on the Epson than the Mitsubishi in this photo. Both look rather great when not overexposed intentionally.
As alway, ignore color shifts, long time exposures (up to 30 seconds, create problems).
Epson Home Cinema 5020 UB: Both Mitsubishi projectors' 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, but perhaps not quite as good.
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: HC8000 Projector - Bottom Line
Very good and Excellent. For a $2999 "local dealer" projector that's rather good, but not exceptional. Although the blacks could still be better, they are very livable. Still, for those of us who truly demand great blacks, there are competitors that will win this battle. Just remember, after a certain level of performance, black levels and shadow detail remain two important abilities, but arenot all of the important ones.
A few more images that are good at demonstrating black level and dark shadow detail abilities:
Mitsubishi HC8000D - Overall Color & Picture Quality
The bottom line: Overall picture quality has to be considered excellent in the HC8000D 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.
Here's one side by side comparison image, from Hunger Games. The image on the left is the Epson HC5020UBe, and of course the HC8000D on the right:
A mix of additional images to show off the Mitsubishi HC8000D:
Here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Joe Walsh and Brian Paisley (above) off of HDTV
Mitsubishi HC8000D Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
I did my sports viewing using AV Memory 2. I turned on CFI, and more significantly, Brilliant Color is engaged. 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.
First a couple of room images. I had to shoot them on a hazy/cloudy day, the sun wouldn't cooperate, so the partially open shades aren't doing quite as much damage, as is usual:
Brilliant Color pumps up the image - lots of pop, but also just 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 a good deal of that due to the compressed satellite or cable signal. (Consider the blonde Victoria Secret image we use on the next section for comparing modes, that redish forehead area is a great example of sacrifices to image quality, in exchange for a smaller file). This isn't 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 very modest degradation of the picture quality.
Check out the sports and other HDTV photos.
I love the Hobbit-like home below:
Mitsubishi HC8000D 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 HC8000D 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 not a spare lumen to be found.
Below: Bruno Mars, performing at the Victoria Secret Fashion Show
As long as your screen is reasonably smaller, and you don't have too much uncontrollable ambient light, the HC8000 will prove to be 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, in brightest mode, that's without ambient light, such as intentional lights on when viewing sports or HDTV with friends.
My Sunday fix of football was perfectly enjoyable with this Mitsubishi projector, filling just about 100" diagonal. Even filling the 124" diagonal for my expanded Game Mix, was reasonable, but because it's a dedicated theater setup, but I've got great lighting control.
On the next page we consider brightness, sharpness and more.