HD7100 Projector Review - Image Quality
This is the first Optoma I have tested, that really does good flesh tones out of the box! I should note, for most of my viewing of movies before hooking up my calibration equipment, I set the projector for a color temperature of 6500K and the gamma for 2.2 (default). I also did some viewing at 2.0 gamma, which lightens much of the image. 2.2 is definitely the right setting but with a high contrast screen some might like dropping the gamma down?
So here are a few of the usual images, Gandalf and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings, Will Smith from I, Robot, Leeloo and Bruce Willis from The 5th Element, etc. Pretty impressive for out of the box. In this regard, I would say that the HD7100 is about as accurate as any other under $5000 projector that I have tested to date. Others that do very well out of the box, include the Panasonic PT-AE900u, and Epson's Pro Cinema 800, but none do it better, if you have the Optoma HD7100 set for ISF Night, or set for Normal, Gamma 2.2, temp 6500K. (same thing!)
Of course, one would expect the real strength of the HD7100 to be its black levels and shadow detail handling. I was not dissapointed. When viewing the image immediately below as a test of shadow detail, this Optoma did as well as any projector I have worked with. As usual, first is a normal exposure, followed by one truly overexposed, so you can see the kind of details picked up along the bottom and the "shack" on the right side. (The overexposed image is provided because my digital camera can't deal with a proper exposure of the bright areas without making dark areas loose all detail.)
I also found "blacks" to be very neutral, without a noticeable shift to blue, brown or other color in the blacks as found on most projector. While black levels are excellent, shadow detail is merely very good. I did not, for example note as great a difference as I would have expected, compared to say the Optoma HD72 or InFocus IN76 - both Darkchip2 models, still there is a visible improvement, one I think, is well worth paying for!
Right below is a new pair of images I have just started using from Sin City again with the second one overexposed to reveal what near black details are visible to the eye. You can see details on the black seats, the road, and dash in the overexposed image that is lost on the normal one. I will likely continue to use this image pair in future reviews.
And of course here are a few images from night type scenes.
You can click on the image above for a larger image.
One thing I must really point out, is that the HD7100 really seems to bring out colors, not just in bright scenes but even in dark areas. In this regard, I find the HD7100 to even slightly outperform my own, somewhat more expensive BenQ PE8720 projector. I noticed this on a number of scenes, such as the texture and colors in the gates of Mordor, from Lord of the Rings, but it is evident on almost everything I watched.
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I had hoped to also show images from HD-DVD, alas, I was on vacation when Toshiba started shipping the first HD-DVD player, and everyone seems to be sold out. I'm hoping to get my hands on the Toshiba player in the next few days or so, and will immediately add images from HD-DVD (of course there are only a few titles, and none that I work with from regular DVD, but I have already picked up the HD-DVD version of Phantom of the Opera, so all I need now is the HD-DVD player.
For other HD content, here are a fewf images fed to the Optoma HD7100 from my D-VHS deck. These images are output as 1080i, and are component video, not digital.
You can click to enlarge either image immediately above
The HD7100 is, despite a claim of only 1000 lumens fairly bright. Although it can't match the brightness of Optoma's own, less expensive HD72 projector, I had no trouble enjoying movies on my 128" Firehawk screen (light gray surface, slight gain). I must confess to using Bright Mode for some of the viewing, but even standard (Eco) mode it managed a satisfactory job, on a screen that large.
The next section considers a wide range of aspects of the HD7100, including menu layout, the remote control, projector screen recommendations, lamp life, brightness, settings and calibrations. Click on General Performance, to proceed.