Optoma HD80 and HD8000: 1080p Home Theater Projector Review - Image Quality
Check out how the Optoma HD8000 fared in our comparison report.
As indicated in the first pages of these two reviews all testing was done on an HD8000, and that the two projectors are technically identical, except for the HD8000 having two additional modes: ISF Day, and ISF Night, for calibrators to set up. Both reviews will share two pages, this one (image quality), and general performance.
Optoma HD80 and HD8000 Home Theater Projector: Skin Tones
The HD8000's out of the box performance leaves a good deal to be desired. In reality, out of the box, it does a bit better job than most previous Optomas we've reviewed.
Fix it yourself (using a calibration disk, like AVIA - less than $50 and available at most online projector specialists), or hire an installation company (or independent calibrator) who can tune the HD8000 for you.
This is a projector that needs to be adjusted, I don't consider the default settings to be acceptable, and I doubt you will either.
However, once you have it properly set up, the HD8000 produces one fine image for its rather reasonable price.
Now, this time around, I didn't shoot "before" and "after" adjustment images, but...
I did do that with my last Optoma review, the HD81-LV, their top of the line 1080p projector. I will say now, that the HD81-LV was probably a little worse out of the box than the HD8000 is, but overall, let's say that both "need work" and are similar in terms of color balance, with green being too strong. Consider these images from the Optoma HD81-LV review:
Even with the HD8000 a bit better, you can imagine that "something must be done". The HD8000 projector needs adjustment. Once done, though, the skin tones become very good.
Let's look at a number of images taken after adjustment of the HD8000. All are from HD resolution movies off of Blu-Ray DVD, unless otherwise noted:
Note, if images appear oversaturated, you may want to adjust your monitor's color saturation down a little for best viewing. Click for larger images.
Let's start with an exception, these two images are from Lord of the Rings in standard DVD resolution:
Back to Blu-Ray DVD:
And, of course, a couple from House of the Flying Daggers, which offers some truly spectacular production qualities:
Now to Aeon Flux. Perhaps not the greatest Sci-fi movie, but a very good one for analyzing projectors:
The HD8000 does very well on movies that are supposed to be grayscale, or done in monotones such as the sepia flavored second image below:
First, from the beginning of Phantom of the Opera (Blu-Ray), then an image from Sin City (standard DVD):
Optoma HD8000 Black Levels and Shadow Detail
Not bad, not bad at all. Given that the HD8000 and HD80 are Optoma's "entry level" 1080p projectors, they perform well in both categories, although not exceptionally. Black levels are good for a 1080p projector, while shadow detail is acceptable, but definitely a step down from some the more expensive competition. In the course of my working with the HD8000, I got to do a fair amount of comparing with InFocus' roughly $2000 more IN82. There was definitely a visible difference in shadow detail. I recall having The Tonight Show on, and at the beginning when they were panning the darkened theater, I could actually make out people and faces in the "upper decks" on the IN82, that were just not distinguishable on the HD8000.
Still, the HD8000 does a good job, it's just that that performance in this area continues to improve. We are reaching a point, where, for all but the "hard core", many of the differences are slight enough that most just won't care. For example, would I buy the InFocus IN82 over the HD8000? Yes, but I'm pretty demanding. But for most people I know, I'd recommend the HD8000 as a better value, and with picture quality that will still please all but the most picky.
I'll start with a few images that are designed to give you an idea of black levels, then we'll get into shadow detail after that. Overall, blacks are nice and dark, but never quite reach what some would call "inky blacks". Still, for a low cost 1080p projector, not bad at all.
Lastly here are a pair of images, or rather the same image normally, and over exposed, from Aeon Flux.
The first gives you a feel for the "blackness" of blacks, and the overexposed version will reveal some of the details in the walls, the rocky road, and in the darker areas of the top of the building in the back.
The image above is from the movie Hitch. In getting the proper exposure, the lights on the Chrysler building in front end up smearing, but, that is due to the camera. The image on the screen had those lights sharp and crisp.
Shadow Detail is definitely an important component of projector performance. Here you will see a number of images, a couple of comparisions, and images that can be compared with the same/similar image shot from other projectors.
Please keep in mind, these images are not, in their own right, able to guide you to best performance. They are here to support my commentary, not the other way around. Most of today's projectors have contrast ratios 5 - 20x that of the monitor you are using to view them. Your display, if LCDTV, is drastically inferior to what these projectors produce, so much is lost. (It's like trying to get a feel for what a big 65" screen TV is like when you see a commercial for one, and you happen to be watching it on a nice little 21 inch TV.) So, take the images with the usual kilo of salt. All that said, you can compare images, and you should find these photos helpful.
One last point, the digital cameras I use (one point and shoot, one Olympus dSLR), also don't have the dynamic range to capture the full capability of this or, other home theater projectors. That is why you will see a number of intentionally, badly overexposed photos, so that we can see details in the shadow areas, that the cameras lose with a normal exposure.
From Space Cowboys - the re-entry shot. Click on the first thumbnail for the HD8000, and look to the dark areas on the right and bottom right. Next you can click on the other two thumbnails. The right one is a similar shot using the InFocus IN82, and the one below is from the new Mitsubishi HC6000, an LCD projector with some impressive shadow detail capabilities. It's impossible for me to end up with identical exposures, so you have to "compensate", but the trick is how much subtle (and I mean dark, subtle) detail can you make out in each.
From the Lord of the Rings (standard DVD), click on the left thumbnail image for a normally exposed enlargement. The second thumbnail image will be the same frame, but overexposed so you can make out details along the bottom and in the shed on the right, structure supports on the left. You'll find this same image in almost all reviews:
Overall, there is good detail but not in the darkest areas. Other, more expensive projectors can reveal more. The question is, do you really care? The truth is, with the HD8000, you're not likely to notice any loss of detail during normal viewing. It's not until you see another projector that is much better at shadow detail, and on the right type of scenes, that you are likely to say to yourself: "Wow, I can see that, and I want the better performance". And that's not likely to happen to most people.
Next is the table scene from Aeon Flux. The HD8000 does a respectable job in terms of being able to make out the texture of the dark table (look in different areas, to see how dark sections can go, before you lose the detail), and in shadows cast by glasses and fruits.
Another good image used in most reviews is the cavern scene in Phantom of the Opera. A very dark scene, with frescos painted on the walls, and ducting that is hard to see. Once again, a normally exposed and a seriously overexposed version for your consideration. Again, this image is used in most reviews, so you can compare the overexposed versions for shadow detail. One other note, don't worry about the severe shift in colors on this image from one projector to another. These are very dark images, and long time exposures, and my digital cameras both tend to exaggerate minor color shifts in these long, typicall 3 f-stop underexposed images. In other words, the colors looked just fine on the screen, with, in this case, the shift to reddish, being very, very slight:
One of the best, and perhaps most practical images I have been using is from Space Cowboys. I've been working with this slightly cropped image of the white suited astronaut (Clint Eastwood) next to part of the satellite. With a normal exposure, you can't see any details in the satellite on the left, but with the over exposed image, you can see what I see on the screen, when watching the Optoma HD8000 home theater projector.
Top Left: Optoma HD8000
Top Right: InFocus IN82 (DLP)
Bottom Left: JVC RS1 (LCOS - D-iLA)
Bottom Right: Epson Home Cinema 1080 (LCD)
As you compare these, you'll be looking at all the details in the satellite. Note that the overall exposure varies a bit. For example, the HD8000 doesn't reveal data that the JVC RS1 does, despite the JVC RS1 exposure, overall being less overexposed.
Another good image, found in many recent reviews, this time a cropped image from Lord of the Rings, a Gondor night scene. Note the details in the upper and middle left - you can make out mountain tops, and a bit of detail below it. You also should spot some colors in the buildings, which is often lost (remember this is also a very overexposed image).
Here are a few additional dark images that show how well the HD8000 can handle those shadow details:
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Optoma HD8000 home theater projector: Sharpness
Optoma seems to be using the same optics on all their 1080p projectors, so sharpness is pretty good. Definitely a sharper looking image than, say, Panasonic's PT-AE1000U, and comparable (or at least close) to Epson's Home Cinema 1080. I'd give it a slight edge compared to the JVC RS1, but on the other hand, the Mitsubishi HC6000 appears "razor sharp".
Click on the left thumbnail for a closeup of the DTS logo (the thumbnail image gives you a good idea of how small a portion of the whole image, the logo takes up). For comparison, the middle thumbnail is from the JVC RS1, and the right-most one, links to the same logo from the Home Cinema 1080. Pricewise, the HD8000 falls between these two, while its sibling, the HD80. costs about the same as the , as they represent the two least expensive 1080p projectors as of this date.
This next image is from Aeon Flux, on Blu-Ray, note the sharpness in her eyes, and in the lose strands of her hair:
One more: 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 HD8000 does a very good job.
Click on the thumbnail for a large version:
Bottom line: When you consider the low cost of the HD8000 and HD80, the above average sharpness has to be considered a real plus. There are a few under $10,000 1080p projectors that can produce a slightly sharper image, but none are dramatically sharper.
Optoma HD80 Overall Picture Quality
Colors are richly saturated, black levels are most respectable, and shadow detail is good. Default gamma seems a little dark in the darker areas, but this can be adjusted, It probably helps produce Optoma's tendency to produce a feeling of really good depth.
Two photos from House of the Flying Daggers - Blu-Ray DVD. It's hard to find movies that offer richer, or more spectacular, colors than this movie, and the HD80 looks great showing this movie.
From the DTS Blu-Ray test disk:
From Aeon Flux on Blu-Ray:
More from Blu-Ray Disk- Night at the Museum:
From Phantom of the Opera:
From the Planet Earth BBC / Discovery, on Blu-Ray:
If you like documentaries, you have to check out the Planet Earth Blu-Ray DVD to believe it. The HD8000 looked just great watching it. (Of course, most projectors do, but we're talking something approaching breathtaking!)
Space Cowboys - Blu-Ray edition:
Here's one more SD-DVD (standard DVD) image, from Sin City:
HD8000 Projector Image Quality: Bottom line
The HD8000 really impresses, especially considering it's about as low cost of a 1080p resolution home theater projector as one can find. It is fairly bright, had good blacks and shadow detail, and overall produces a natural looking image (after a good calibration or at least a serious end user adjustment with good calibration disk (easy to follow instructions when using the AVIA or DVE disks).