Panasonic PT-AE8000 Projector - Performance
10/18/12 - Art Feierman
Below we discuss the Panasonic PT-AE8000 projector's brightness in "best" and "brightest" modes, and the effects of certain features on brightness. You will also find a series of images showing relative brightness of each of themodes. Sharpness, Image and audible noise levels, are also covered.
Panasonic PT-AE8000 Brightness
Mike took these initial PT-AE8000U brightness measurements "right out of the box". Note that we set the zoom lens at the middle point, so we do not get as many lumens as a manufactuer would, as they all measure at wide angle - closest, which is almost always brighter than mid-point or zooming all the way out.
PT-AE8000 Lumen Output and Color Temp with 100 IRE Field (mid zoom):
Cinema 1= 643 @ 7053
Cinema 2= 1175 @ 8554
Game= 1245 @ 10199
Normal= 1285 @ 9746
Dynamic= 1898 @ 7757, 1255 lumens with AI off
Rec. 709= 622 @ 6695
D-Cinema= 643 @ 6437
Again, as was the case with the PT-AE7000 last year only Rec. 709 and D-Cinema are in color temperature, close to the 6500K ideal. For those not familiar, REC 709 is the official standard for color space for HDTV, and there are many projectors that show an REC 709 mode. Mike often finds that is the best mode to use as his basis for calibration. This PT-AE8000 is no exception. Mike did his calibration for "best" mode, starting with the Panasonic's Rec 709 mode.
All the really bright modes are a lot cooler - higher color temp. Basically, stronger on blues than reds.
Post Calibration: Best Mode = REC 709
The PT-AE8000 measured 602 lumens calibrated in "best" mode. That's a massive brightness increase over last year's PT-AE7000 measuring in at 422 lumens!!!
Using REC 709 mode, Mike made changes from there. The changes were pretty minor, one reason that brightness only dropped 20 lumens from the uncalibrated REC 709.
Breaking 600 lumens finally brings this series of Panasonic projectors to a brightness level sufficient for some larger screens even in best mode. Officially, and in reality, you've got the horsepower under the hood for, a 130" diagonal screen in a good room, for great 2D viewing.
Post Calibration: Brightest Mode = Dynamic
Mike did some major settings changes to Dynamic, to improve the color a bit, from the original thin on reds, strong on blues and very strong on greens. For a limited drop in lumen count from 1898 to 1637 - less than 15%, the picture quality visibly improved, as green became a bit less noticeable. Mike's adjustments are found on the Calibration page.
The end result looks pretty good for a brightest mode, with plenty of pop to the picture, a little over the top perhaps, and the underlying color tendencies are still there, but muted. In most cases, Mike's result is very watchable compared to Dynamic, at the cost of only about a 10% drop in brightness from 1516 to 1355 lumens.
So what does all that horsepower give us? Have a blast....you can handle a decent amount of ambient light on mid-sized screens, for say sports viewing with friends. You can fill a much larger screen for movie viewing - pushing out to the 130" plus range, if you are willing to sacrifice "best" color accuracy.
All considered the Panasonic measured just below average brightness, in its "best" mode, but is one of the brightest higher quality projectors around when you require a very bright mode! Panasonic claims 2000 lumens - impressive in its own right. As noted we measured over 1600 at brightest but we don't set everything exactly how Panasonic would tell us to, to squeeze out every lumen.
As a good example, Mike measures with the Dynamic Iris off. In reading Panasonic info, they say the brightest measurements come when the iris is on. That means we may have missed a few dozen extra lumens.
3D Brightness of the Panasonic PT-AE8000
The 400 lumen claimed increase, ( it measured almost all of that) in brightness makes a notable difference when it comes to 3D, compared to its predecessor.
If you try REC 709, for 3D, it's not likely bright enough unless you have a smaller screen. You might be sacrificing some color accuracy, but the Panasonic has the lumens for some decent sized 3D viewing.
Really, there are only a few projectors about as bright, in the price range. The Epson should be right there, the Sony, not quite as bright, but close. I don't think the BenQ W7000 or the Sharp Z30000 have a chance against this light canon.
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode):
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Dynamic mode):
Zoom out: 2178
Zoom in: 1312
There is a measured roughly 14% increase in brightness if you place the PT-AE8000U at its closest position to the screen, in terms of zoom (wide-angle), compared to having the zoom at mid-point, with the projector 50% further back.
At full telephoto the PT-AE8000 is about 40% less bright compared to wide angle! That means you are reducing this projector from very bright to about average brightness if you rear shelf mount at the full telephoto range.
PT-AE8000 Eco-Mode vs. Full Power
Changing lamp mode from full power to eco mode should result in the same amount of brightness drop, regardless of color mode. In this case Mike used both Cinema 1 and also Dynamic to confirm his measurments. The 643 lumens measured in Cinema 1 dropped to 402 lumens in Eco-mode. That's an unusually large, about 40% drop in brightness (essentially the same percentage drop that the PT-AE7000 showed last year. Dynamic dropped slightly more, but that within our measuring margin of error. It dropped from 1898 to 1034 A drop of 40% is more than most projector's eco modes deliver. I'd say more typical of low power modes are drops of 20% to 30%.
Color Temp over IRE Range (Pre calibration – best mode):
30 IRE 7060
50 IRE 6730
100 IRE 6695
Those numbers are very good for right out of the box.
Below find, in more detail, how the Panasonic measured post calibration
PT-AE8000, Post Calibration, Best Mode (REC 709)
Color Temp over IRE Range (Post calibration):
20 IRE 6465
30 IRE 6665
40 IRE 6614
50 IRE 6335
60 IRE 6395
70 IRE 6542
80 IRE 6638
90 IRE 6705
100 IRE 6532
Average gamma= 2.23
In addition to the RGB settings, Mike adjusted the the Gamma settings and the basic controls (Brightness, Sharpness, Contrast...) Those are all reported on the Calibration page. If you aren't having your PT-AE8000 calibrated, you might try ours.
Mike has written up a good deal about his findings when calibrating the projector. You will find that on the Calibration page as well.
For now, however, a useful excerpt:
Mike's comments: Overall, the projector looks really good. Grayscale is not bad right out of the box, though there’s too much blue and too little red in Rec. 709 mode. It calibrates fairly well (see graph), but the color temp and RGB balance are not as flat as I’d like to see (note the peaks of red at 40 and 50 IRE in the RGB Color Balance chart and the bumps in the Correlated Color Temperature chart. None of this is really visible in actual use however.
Comparing Picture Modes of the PT-AE8000:
We have photographed the same frame, to show you several of the modes, including the calibrated REC 709 which is the "best".
Cinema 2: (A nice choice, in the middle in brightness, and a pretty good default picture balance.)
Normal: 2nd brightest measured mode:
Dynamic: The brightest measured mode:
REC 709: The "best" mode. I saved it for last, so you can see the difference between "brightest" (above) and "best":
Of course, the "best" mode REC 709 image immediately above, a bit under-exposed, but sure produces fine looking rather natural skin tones.
We went a step further with this PT-AE8000's calibration than usual, in that we calibrated the CMS as well. Here (a brighter exposure than above so you can read the menu), are without the CMS calibration, and with, in REC709 mode. The difference in this case is very, very slight.
Panasonic PT-AE8000 3D Brightness
Bingo! Now we're talking. The PT-AE8000 seems to be anywhere from about 50% brighter, to more than twice the brightness of the LCoS 3D projectors from Sony, Mitsubishi and JVC, and the DLP projectors; the Optoma HD8300, and Sharp XV-Z17000, when comparing the brightest modes, and with all of those, you do need the brightest mode, to be, in my opinion, anything but dim.
This plays out in reality as well. No question about it, I'm happier with the brightness of the PT-AE8000 than any of the others, using the same setup, the only one of the others that I might have considered at all close is the Mitsubishi.
All cost more than the Panasonic. How's that for a 3D value proposition? In fact, the most direct competition for the PT-AE8000 in terms of both brightness and price, will be the new Epson Home Cinema 5010 we'll be reviewing next. They are both 3LCD, both brighter than all those others.
In fact, the only competitors for 3D in the home that we've reviewed so far, that are as bright or brighter, have been the low cost gaming projectors from Optoma, and the Epson model below the 5010, the Home Cinema 3010.
Bottom line: I'm satisfied with the brightness of the PT-AE8000. Simply stated, all of those other similar and more expensive projectors reviewed so far will look dimmer when doing 3D. This Panasonic, on the other hand, does pretty good. You aren't likely to claim too much brightness (unless a combination of small, and high gain, screen.)
The PT-AE8000 has the necessary brightness when in 3D to do a respectable job in most people's home theaters. Impressive; that's the first time I've been able to say that about a an ultra high contrast projector! It's about time.
Thank you Panasonic, you got the basics covered, but don't quit there, make next year's brighter still.
Panasonic PT-AE8000 Bottom Line Brightness:
The HD8300 and all of the LCoS projectors but the JVC RS60 managed between 600 and 800 lumens in "best" mode, so they are brighter than the PT-AE8000 projector when they are all calibrated to be their best. But when you just want some good picture quality (or very good, but not calibrated), the Panasonic outshines all of them. And that makes it the big winner for 3D where even the Panasonic's ample lumens are just enough, in most cases not to be a bit too dim to enjoy long term. Remember the 3D glasses settings. If you feel you need more lumens, go from the medium to light mode, for some more brightness, but also a bit more 3D artifacts such as crosstalk.
Panasonic PT-AE8000 Sharpness
Panasonic has been using its SmoothScreen technology for years to make the pixel structure invisible unless you are a foot or two from the screen. That does give you a little less jaggedness to some images that can be takens as a touch of softness, but this projector performs very well, sharpness wise. The demo unit has typical pixel misconvergence, yet the Panasonic menus, with their smaller, fine, type look crisp.
Top left: Panasonic PT-AE8000, Top Center - Sharp XV-Z30000, Top right - Runco LS-5.
2nd row left: Sony VPL-HW50ES, center: Optoma HD8300, Right: JVC DLA-RS45
Excellent, no significant light leaking through the lens, and the vents are about as dark as you will find. Not a complaint here. All home theater projectors should be this clean.
We're still trying to sort out what's acceptable, and good and great (lack of) image noise for 3D projectors, but when it comes to 2D, the PT-AE8000 performs more than well enough. It's been a few years since I've seen anything but very good to great image processing on over $2000 projectors.
That's not to say we don't see issues with dynamic features like CFI, but for normal viewing of 24fps movies, and the usual HDTV and TV content, motion artifacts are minimal.
Speaking of CFI, Panasonic's Mode 1 is one of the smoothest I've seen. That's traditional, they were about the first to add the feature a few years back, and even back then, it was the best at the time.
What I'm saying is you still get a touch of that "live digital video" look on movies, but it's slight. I could live with it on for movies if others asked. I used Modes 1 and 2 for sports. I don't notice much difference, so play with it, if you like CFI for different things, go with it. If not, don't worry, this Panny has plenty of other neat features.
As they say in Brooklyn, "Forgetaboutit!" This Panasonic is one of the quietest home theater projectors yet. I think I've seen a Mitsubishi or two perhaps slightly quieter, but this projector is quieter at full power, than many are in their lower power Eco-modes. The older PT-AE8000 was about equally quiet. It doesn't seem louder, despite a brighter lamp than last year's projector, which would make one think more fan noise.
I believe even the most noise adverse enthusiasts will find nothing to complain about, and will, in fact, praise its quietness. Tastefully done!