Panasonic PT-AE3000U Projector Review
Out of the Box Picture Quality
Hooking up the PT-AE3000 for the first time, before any adjustments were made, yielded very good color accuracy. In fact, very little needed to be done to the color settings when we calibrated the projector. Still, calibration did yield a small, but real improvement. Perhaps the weakest aspect of the out of the box settings, relates to color saturation, which proved to be a little over the top. Reducing saturation is easy, and definitely improved the image. This is, though one of the few projectors (saturation notwithstanding), that is extremely watchable without needing to make changes.
Excellent. With some 40 hours of watching the PT-AE3000, I have found the flesh (skin) tones to be very natural (after our minor changes when we calibrated). The PT-AE3000U isn’t as natural as the InFocus IN83 which I raved about, when speaking of flesh tones, but it is very, very, good.
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
Moving to movies and other content on hi-def Blu-ray disc, here is are the three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale. Scene lighting, and the director’s intent (intentional changes), means that skin tones will vary, depending on the type of lighting, such as full sunlight (first image), fluorescent lighting (2nd image), and filtered sunlight – shaded on a sunny day (3rd image). In all three cases the PT-AE3000U provides realistic skin tones.
Black Levels & Shadow Detail
As you can see, the PT-AE3000 has a ways to go to catch the JVC RS2, in terms of black levels, but, that doesn’t take away from the Panasonic’s extremely good black level performance. OK here’s what many of you have been waiting for, side by side images for comparing black levels. I had the opportunity to shoot the PT-AE3000U against the JVC RS1, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB (shortly being replaced by the Home Cinema 6500 UB which claims even better black level performance). The first image below is just slightly overexposed. The Panasonic is on the right. The image right below it is the same, but further overexposed so you can really see the difference in black levels (look at the letterbox area above and below the starship image).
As you can see, a striking difference between the Panasonic and the InFocus. By the way, that curved brighter area about 1/3 in from the left edge of the Panasonic is actually light leakage from the InFocus.
Now, the same shot, but with the Panasonic’s dynamic iris turned off. That gives you some idea of what a dynamic iris adds toward improving black levels:
You’ll note, that the background of the Panasonic now appears a step brighter, while the InFocus appears a bit darker than on the image before it. The Panasonic still has a slight edge, instead of a much larger advantage. Remember though, a dynamic iris is most effective with an all dark scene. Add any significant white areas, and the dynamic iris can’t do anything to help the dark areas.
Enough! Here is just two more images which is a good one for considering black levels. Look for the richness in the black part of some of the buildings and the sky in the second image. Both of these are digital hi-def images from the DVE-HD calibration disc.
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