Optoma HD8200 Projector - Image Quality
Optoma HD8200 images below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV, with the exception of Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). Remember, by the time these images get to you, through digital camera, software, browsers, and monitor, there are minor color shifts, saturation differences, etc. The images are to support the commentary, but keep in mind the limitations when trying to compared images from the HD8200 with other home theater projectors.
In reality, all projectors, including the HD8200, always look better live, than the images in our reviews.
3/29/09 - Art Feierman
HD8200 Out of the Box Picture Quality
The HD8200 isn't bad, right out of the box, but the image is definitely on the cool side - too much blue, not enough red. Skin tones definitely show that bit of thinness in terms of red, tending to make people look as if under flourescent lighting. Oh, the picture is definitely watchable, but will improve significantly with a good calibration.
Optoma HD8200 Projector - Flesh Tones
Once the HD8200 has been calibrated, the balance between red and blue, becomes excellent, and skin tones now look extremely good. They look good enough, that once or twice, (since I change projectors frequently when reviewing), I could occasionally forget that I had the HD8200 up, and not my reference JVC RS20, at least in terms of accurate 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, flourescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three imagfes, the first, in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with flourescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade - indirect lighting.
Three from Aeon Flux:
Men In Black:
From the DVE-HD calibration disc (digital source material, not film):
HD8200 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Black level performance of the HD8200 is pretty darn good. I have run the HD8200 side by side against the JVC RS20, the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB and others. While the HD8200 can't match most of the ultra-high-contrast 3LCD projectors it comes very close to the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, the least expensive of those, and the one with the least impressive blacks. The HD8200 is comparable, and possibly a bit better in black levels than the BenQ W5000. I reviewed the two projectors a full year apart, so it's hard to confirm that, but, let's say that the HD8200 should be as least as good as the W5000.
The first two images here, are side by side images comparing it to the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB. These images are seriously overexposed. Enough that the blue logo appears white, and the extremely dark background has been lifted enough that you can see the differences in black levels. As you can see, the Epson does have a real advantage. The second image is a more typical scene, from The Dark Knight. There are enough bright lights in this city night scene, that the irises on the two projectors are not able to stop fully down. In a mixed scene such as this, the difference in black level performance is not as immediately noticeable, but still there upon close inspection.
Below is a series of images of the Starship, from The Fifth Element. The first is our Optoma HD8200. Immediately below it, is the BenQ W20000. Unfortunately, brightness varies from image to image, making accurate comparisons of black levels somewhat challenging.
For comparison, here's the same image from the Mitsubishi HC5500:
And below is the Panasonic PT-AE3000:
Next is the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB:
Consider two additional images which are good ones for considering black levels.
The image immediately below is from The Dark Knight. I've intentionally overexposed it to make a point. This is the type of scene where the difference in black level performance makes a huge difference. Because the outside areas of the scene, and for that matter the men's jackets are pretty black, with little detail at all, projectors with just "good" black levels look very flat - I've achieved that effect here. The HD8200 actually does moderately well on this image, but the difference between the HD8200, and say the JVC RS10 and especially the RS20 is stunning. Even the less expensive Epson Home Cinema 6500UB , looks significantly better on this scene. Because the bright area of the image is of moderate brightness, projectors like the HD8200 or the Epson, can't even get to their blackest blacks, whereas the JVCs, which do incredible blacks without an iris, would look drastically better. Right below it is an image from Quantum of Solace (but not overexposed), which is a very different scene type, but another where black level differences are almost "night and day". (I can't believe I'm getting away with that line! -art) The rocks on the left and right would be where the differences are.
Shadow Detail Performance
The Optoma HD8200 is very solid in terms of shadow detail, but not one of the very best. You will find projectors that can reveal a little more dark shadow detail, but the HD8200 does a very good job. Consider the train image from Casino Royale, immediately below. The HD8200 is on the right, the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB on the left (as you can see, the HD8200 image is a bit brighter, as would be expected, since it is about 6-7% brighter with similar lamp hours on the two projectors, but the Epson had about 250 hours on it (compared to about 20) on the HD8200, so the brightness difference is likely 10%:
Top left: HD8200, Middle: Panasonic PT-AE3000U, Right: BenQ W5000:
Here are a couple additional side-by-side nighttime scenes from The Dark Knight: Epson Home Cinema 6500UB on the left, Optoma HD8200 on the right:
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).
First image is the HD8200, followed by the Sanyo PLV-Z3000. Next is the the Sony HW10. The last three in the sequence are the Sanyo PLV-Z700, Panasonic PT-AE3000U and the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB.
The HD8200 does
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The HD8200 (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 6500UB, Those images are followed by the Sony VPL-HW10 and the PT-AE3000U (second row). The third row is the Mitsubishi HC6500 (left), and the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 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 HD8200 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 HD8200. 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 HD8200, the middle, the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, 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.
The following images are the same frame, from Space Cowboys. The first one is slightly overexposed, and the second one, more so. Look in the brown area of the satellite on the left (and elsewhere). The HD8200 does a pretty good job. Definitely one of the better projectors on this scene, but still not up to the very best.
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 HD8200 projector:
Panasonic PT-AE3000U projector:
Sony VPL-HW10 projector:
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB 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 HD8200U performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the Optoma HD8200, 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 HD8200, 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 HD8200 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 am most impressed with the HD8200's overall look and feel of its picture. The HD8200 has that usual DLP sense of depth, and especially rich looking darker colors. There are times when, however when the the HD8200 can look just a little over the top. To me, it seems that color saturation settings that seem right on for brighter scenes can seem a little too saturated on darker scenes. That difference, however may just be a matter of finding the ideal point to set the saturation. Relating to that, it may also tie into my primarily viewing on my Firehawk screen, a high contrast gray. I believe the issue is less noticeable when I watch on the white surfaced Carada Brilliant White screen.
A mix of additional images to show off the HD8200:
From the DTS Blu-ray test disk, consider these:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
And here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Optoma HD8200 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
My only complaint with the HD8200, for general HDTV (and TV) and sports viewing, is based on the limited brightness of the projector. For my normal sports viewing, with some ambient light, I had to give up on filling my 128 inch screen, which it couldn't begin to deal with, not even with even fairly modest ambient light. I was extremely pleased, however, once I reduced the image size to about 100 inches diagonal (actually probably closer to 96 inches - though I didn't do an accurate measurement). With the smaller screen size, the HD8200 projector had plenty of punch. Sports looked really sharp, but what I particularly liked were viewing music videos off of Blu-ray, or MTV's Palladia HDTV channel. Shows in Hi-def, like The Tonight Show, Science HD, History HD, and Discovery HD all looked really good, but I still favor brighter projectors for that type of viewing.
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. Sports and general HDTV images still to come!