Optoma HD806 Projector - Image Quality
Optoma HD806 images below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV, with the exception of Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). These images are never very accurate compared to the image the HD806 projector projects on the screen. There are minor color shifts, saturation differences, etc.
The images are provided to support the commentary, so don't read too much into them, such as expecting an exact reproduction of skin tones. In reality, the projectors always look better than the images in our reviews.
12/15/2008 - Art Feierman
HD806 Out of the Box Picture Quality
The Optoma HD806, out of the box, provides a pretty good image, though not a truly great one. This is a projector for which you should perform a basic calibration with a consumer calibration disc, or, at least, try our settings listed in the Calibration section. Overall, color temperature is close, right out of the box. On the other hand, pick the right settings, and put on some good HDTV content, and you should be even further impressed. Overall colors don't seem to be quite as dynamic and saturated as some other projectors, likely due to the color wheel Optoma chose for this projector. The seven segment wheels used in many other Optoma projectors do better in this regard, than the six segment wheel in the HD806.
The HD806 serves up very good skin tones after calibration. This is a projector that grows on you. My initial impressions when watching it were that it is "so-so" on movies, but really skin tone handling is better than that. For watching HDTV and sports, on the other hand, it's very impressive immediately. Since there is little variation between preset modes when it comes to brightness, I found that the same User mode settings we saved, based on our calibration, produced better, more accurate bright images, than most other projectors in their brightest (typically "Dynamic") modes, as most others sacrifice color accuracy for more punch. The InFocus and BenQ DLP projectors are similar in this regard. 3LCD projectors tend to have a much larger jump in brightness from best to brightest modes, and more variation in color accuracy, which, of course impacts skin tones.
Here, first are a pair of images from my favorite movie not available yet on Blu-ray: Lord of the Rings, played from standard DVD. Both look very good.
Below are the usual three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale, under different lighting conditions. As I always point out, skin tones should look different under different lighting conditions. You can expect significantly different looking skin tones when switching from bright sunlight, to nighttime, fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three images: the first, in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with fluorescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade - indirect lighting.
From Men In Black:
From the DVE-HD calibration disc (digital source material, not film):
HD806 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
As mentioned elsewhere, the dynamic iris of the HD806 is slow, and noisy. We expect that many people will not use the dynamic iris for these reasons. Nonetheless, the full photoshoot of images from movies were shot with the dynamic iris working, and lamp dimming on.
First is a seriously overexposed shot of the starship in The Fifth Element. Immediately below it, is a less overexposed version, for better comparing with the same image in older reviews. In the first image, I have left in part of the letterboxing, so you can see the basic black level more easily.
For comparison, here's the same image from the Mitsubishi HC5500.
And below is the Panasonic PT-AE3000.
Next is the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB:
Consider two additional images which are good ones for considering black levels.
Shadow Detail Performance
The Optoma HD806 does a very respectable job of shadow detail. In some images the near darkest areas do come out too dark - notably, in the spacewalk/satellite image below.
Top left: HD806, Middle: Panasonic PT-AE3000U, Right: BenQ W5000:
The next set of comparison images is from Space Cowboys. This is a very dark scene with Clint Eastwood on Blu-ray disc. The photos are intentionally way overexposed. Look for the blacks in the shades, and the details in those shades in the form of the white trim. (At this level of overexposure, don't even worry about the skin tones, as in these type of photos they always look terrible, and way oversaturated/too high contrast).
The Panasonic does a great job on revealing details in the window shades, bettter than most of the competition.
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The HD806 (top left) has respectable shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite, but the overall dark areas come out darker than on many other projectors, losing some shadow detail. Next to it on the first row, is the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, Those images are followed by the Sony VPL-VW60 and the PT-AE3000U (second row). The third row is the Mitsubishi HC6500 (left), and the Sanyo PLV-Z700 on the right.
The re-entry image below, is a tough shadow detail test. Projectors with weak black levels and average shadow detail ability tend to generate an image where much of the right side of earth looks to have that flat, lacking in detail look. All projectors pick up some of the brighter features on the right side, while better ones, pick up a lot more and usually have richer blacks as well. In this regard, the HD806 projector does a pretty good job on shadow detail, but not exceptional. However, it also does not look as washed out as some other projectors, that have good shadow detail, but mediocre black level performance.
In general, space type scenes do look good on the HD806. Remember, though, these are taken with the dynamic iris on. With it not engaged, black levels are not quite as good, and the space scenes tend to look a bit flat!
On the left, is the HD806, the middle, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, and on the right, the Panasonic PT-AE3000. The Sanyo does the best job on shadow detail, followed by the Panasonic, and then the Epson, which has always been just a little weak on shadow details.
Next is the casino image at night from Bond's Casino Royale.
When comparing, look at the detail in the roof (tiles), and also in the assorted trees and plants. The small images below (all from the same projector) show a slightly overexposed scene. Click on the images and the larger versions of the different projectors, are far more overexposed, to allow a closer inspection of shadow details.
Optoma HD806 projector:
Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector:
Sony VPL-VW40 projector:
Epson Home Cinema 1080UB projector:
InFocus IN83 projector: (a more expensive projector that I've been raving about)
Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector:
Below is a heavily overexposed scene from Lord of the Rings. The overexposure lets you see all the details in the shed on the right, the structure on the left, and the plants and ground along the lower right. The HD806 performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the Optoma HD806, Sanyo PLV-Z700 in the center, and the right for the PT-AE3000U.
Our last comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Optoma HD806, second is the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, the third is the Mitsubishi HC6500, and the last one is from the Panasonic PT-AE3000.
(Please note, the image above is a little blurry, must have bumped the tripod. Sorry! That shouldn't affect your ability to see the shadow details. -art)
Another very good image for observing shadow detail is this very dark scene from the first National Treasure film. The HD806 does do a good job of revealing details, especially if you look to the top right, or the left center. The image is enough overexposed that you can see the "blacks" in the letterbox area, look gray.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
I better clarify this right now. Despite my comments throughout the review that the HD806 does not produce a truly refined image that would appeal to the hard core movie enthusiast, it is also true that the abilities of the HD806 in terms of overall picture quality really are reasonably good.
Combine this with more "best mode" lumens than any other projector anywhere near its price, and what we have here is a projector that really will satisfy those buying it for the right reasons. Those reasons are, for good image quality plus exceptional brightness for dealing with rooms with some ambient light, or very large screens.
A mix of additional images to show off the HD806:
From the DTS Blu-ray test disk, consider these:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
And here are a few assorted, additional images, most of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Optoma HD806 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
The Optoma HD806 projector seems to be at its very best, when viewing sports and HDTV. To get the best out of it, for this type of content, I recommend changing the degamma from Film to Video. That lightens up the lower and mid range areas, and makes for a really excellent image for sports viewing, but worked great last night, as well, watching (again), the final episode of Boston Legal, or, for that matter, the Tonight Show. The first two images are from a music video of The Moody Blues in concert.
The images above and below are from a Moody Blues Concert that has been broadcast in HD, and is also available on Blu-ray disc.
Moving to sports, these images were shot with three different levels of ambient light in the room. The small insert pictures show the different amount of light coming in, due to how far down the shades are. The larger images of the screen show how the projected image performs under those different lighting conditions:
The first scenario shown, has the shades open more than I have been able to work with with almost any other projector. Immediately below is a look at the projected image with this rather large amount of sun light entering the room.
Here are the next two room lighting scenarios, side by side, and below them, the same image shown under each:
Now the image below is the same as the two above, but cropped closer, and shot with the shades fully down. Note, this still allows a modest amount of ambient light into the room, as shown in the small insert image to the right.
Please note, these images (foolishly) were taken without a tripod, so a couple of them are a little blurred.
Here's one more image, (and you can click for larger version of this one).