PT-DW5000 Widescreen Projector Review - Image Quality
Since this is a long section, you can use the links below to jump to areas of interest, or just scroll down.
In a world where few projectors actually meet their published claims (or even get within 20% of them, the DW5000U did extremely well. The projector's brightest mode is called Dynamic.
With both lamps running, and the projector set for Dynamic mode, I was able to measure a very impressive 4465 lumens, that's about as close as one can get to the claimed spec, without hitting it. I should note that the color temperature was a surprisingly warm (leaning toward red) 6636K. I would therefore conjecture that since lamps tend to be cooler temperature than that - more in the 9000K range, adjusting the color balance by boosting the blues, probably would yield an extra few hundred lumens, and still have an excellent color balance for typical presentations.
There are four other preset modes that I measured , and here are the numbers::
Graphics: 2954 lumens
Standard: 2414 lumens
Natural: 2333 lumens
Cinema: 2379 lumens
The color temperature for the Cinema mode was 6211K just a bit below the ideal 6500K for video usage. The Panasonic projector also has a High Contrast mode, most likely used for home theater/screening room or other applications requiring blackest blacks, and dark shadow detail. Panasonic uses a physical iris that stops down the lens to increase contrast. When we engaged High Contrast mode in the Cinema setting, the color temperature measurement remained virtually unchanged (within the accuracy range of my light meter). Lumens, however decreased very signficantly as expected, in fact it dropped off about 60% to 948 lumens.
Of course you can also choose to run the projector with only one lamp at a time. That will cut lumen output in half for all measurements, but of course, reduce the cost of operation. For lowest operating cost, you could use the long life lamps, run one lamp at a time, and run the projector in low power mode. That would mean you could go about 8000 hours (24 hours a day for more than a year, or 20 hours a week, for almost 8 years!
With just one long life lamp running, in low power/ dynamic mode, (long life lamps will not run in High Power mode), the projector would be pumping out about 1000 lumens! (The extended life lamps are about half the brightness of the standard lamp when comparing the regular lamps at full power to the long life ones in low power).
Note, the DW5000U is not recommended to run 24/7 operation with both lamps running. For true 24/7 use, Panasonic recommends single lamp mode, with the projector automatically switching back and forth between the two lamps. Or, if you need full power, they recommend the projector run no more than 22 hours a day. I believe from Panasonic's literature, that they want each lamp to get at least a 2 hour break each day, so if manually controlled, you could run full dual lamp for 20 hours, and 2 hours on lamp 1 and 2 on lamp 2.
I've got lots of images for you to consider. Let me start by saying that, "out of the box" the Panasonic PT-DW5000U exhibits the traditional weakness of almost all single chip DLP projectors, which is some difficulty with bright reds and bright yellows. Fortunately the DW5000U handles them pretty well, but could use some improvement. From observations (and measurements), the Panny does a very good job on bright reds, even in it's brightest mode - dynamic. Yellows are not quite as good, with a definite greenish caste to what should be a pure yellow. Again, this is what you would expect. I did play with the advanced color controls, and was able to significantly improve the yellows, but it did take away some lumens. The less powerful modes, such as Cinema, on most projectors normally do better, as they have already given up the maximum lumens to "equalize" (for lack of a better term) the color balance. As a result, the yellows look very good in some of these images.
First are three shots of our Pie Chart. The first is in Dynamic Mode, then Graphic, then Standard. These images were shot without any adjustments to RGB settings. Do keep in mind though, that there are limitations to the capturing of the color with my (or anyone's) digital camera. You can definitely pick up the greens in top of the yellow slice.
You should also clearly see that the Standard mode (last of the three) does a much better job on yellows, also, the reds, which are pretty good in the other two modes are even brighter in Standard.
The folllowing image shows primary and secondary colors (and white) using one of the eight Panasonic built in test patterns:
Again, you can see the greenish caste, and as you can see from the menu, the projector is in it's brightest mode - Dynamic.
The bottom line here, is that overall, colors are extremely good for a DLP projector, and if bright accurate yellows are critical for you, dropping down to Standard, or doing some tweaking of the Dynamic modes setting should satisfy you.
Performance on Videos
Some user video applications will sacrifice "perfect' color handling in exchange for raw brightness in combatting significant ambient light. Other user situations will be more traditional, very low light, to fully darkened room conditions, with the emphasis on best possible color and contrast. I have taken a number of photos to give you a good idea of the Panasonic's capabilities on video, under these different environments.
I think it best to look first, at how the Panasonic PT-DW5000U does in a darkened room. For this purpose I photographed several scenes from DVD that I normally use in evaluating home theater projectors. The scenes include from DVD; Lord of the Rings, and from HD-DVD; Phantom of the Opera, and Serendipity. Most are shot in Cinema mode. (Please note, all were shot without calibrating the projector, so this gives you a really good idea of "out of the box" performance. A quick calibration futher improves color accuracy, to truly excellent levels. All images are with contrast set to standard (not High Contrast) unless otherwise indicated.
All of the darkened room images were shot in my testing room, projecting a 100" diagonal image on a High Contrast Gray surface fixed wall screen (from Elite Screens).
Let's start with some images to show off the Panasonic's ability to handle flesh tones:
You may click on these first three images to bring up a higher resolution version. The 3rd image, from Phantom of the Opera, is from HD-DVD, so will also give you a good idea of the detail advantage of HD-DVD.
Next, from Phantom, are three images of the same frame. The first in the normal Cinema mode, the second version, Cinema, with High Contrast selected (you can click on the first one for a larger version). The last image is in the very bright Dynamic mode (contrast Standard):
You can see some loss of highlight detail in the near white areas, in Dynamic mode, as well as some shift in color, yet, overall, Dynamic mode does a respectable job, if you need the full "horsepower" of the DW5000U.
Here are a couple of additionalHD-DVD images, the first from Phantom, and the second, from Serendipity:
PT-DW5000 handling Ambient Light on Video Sources:
These images were photographed in my viewing room, on a 128" Stewart Firehawk. Due to projector placement limitations, the image size projected was approximately 115" diagonal. For the ambient light, two glass french doors toward the back of the left wall, have their shades up, allowing sunlight to hit the back wall. The small image you see here, gives you the best idea of how the room actually looks. The image of Ganalf on the screen, however is not from the Panasonic, but from the far less powerful Mitsubishi HD4000 review. The same image and others were shot less than 30 minutes later with the Panasonic hooked up.
OK, here we first have two images for your consideration. The first photo of Gandalf has the Panasonic PT-DW5000U in Cinema mode, standard contrast, dual lamp. The second photo uses the same exact exposure, to show you how much brighter the projector is with all settings the same, except for Dynamic mode instead of Cinema. In botht images, the ambient light on the walls around the screen appears significantly darker than the rooms actual condition shown in the small image above. This exposure was necessary to keep the screen of Gandalf from being overexposed, since it is much brighter than the room itself. In the second photo, since the exposure remained the same, this Gandalf image is definitely overexposed, with all the highlight areas blown out. Of course in actual watching the highlight information is all there. You can easily tell that the Panaasonic projector has plenty of power to hand a decent amount of ambient light, even on a gray surface screen approaching 10 foot diagonal.
You can easily tell that the Panaasonic projector has plenty of power to hand a decent amount of ambient light, even on a gray surface screen approaching 10 foot diagonal.
Contrast and Black level performance is excellent for a commercial business projector. Panasonic only claims 2000:1 contrast in it's High contrast mode, and does not quote a contrast ratio for standard contrast mode, but I suspect it isn't dramatically lower. Black levels are pretty impressive, roughly comparable to most home theater projectors of just a couple of years ago.
Above is one of the same images I use in my home theater projector reviews for looking at shadow details. The Panny does a good job along the bottom and inside the shed on the right. I would venture that, in this regard, it easily exceeds most LCD projectors that might compete with it.
My overall impression of the DW5000U is that it is extremely sharp, thanks to what are, no doubt, excellent optics and quality image processing. I don't think you are going to find another DLP projector that is visibly sharper. LCD projectors, on the other hand tend to exhibit more of a "razor-sharp" look, due to their more visible pixel structure. That said, you can see below that even 8 point type is clear and crisp, and few will ever project type that small.
Panasonic has always had very good compression technology on even it's $1000 portable projectors that we have reviewed, so we expected no less here.
In this case, however, we fed the DW5000U a standard XGA source. Since this is a WXGA projector with 1280x720 native resolution, it does have to use some compression to accomdate the extra rows of a standard XGA source (1280x768). Translated, it has to squeeze 768 lines down to 720. The loss of quality is very slight. In the image here, I decided to make the Panasonic work particularly hard. Most projectors do their best compression with black text on a white background. Most produce poorer performance when also having to deal with colors. So our challenge grid here is a light yellow on a medium blue background. As you can see, the text isn't as good as in the image above, but everything is still easily readable, just a touch soft, due to the compression.
I also viewed the Panasonic PT-DW5000U with a SXGA+ (1400x1050) source. This is a very common resolution for large screen laptops. Overall, the compression in that mode was also very good, I would say at least the equal of almost all traditional XGA projectors.
Rainbow Effect and Color Wheel
The DW5000U uses a 3X color wheel, this makes it 50% faster than the traditional 2X wheel found in almost all business DLP projectors. By comparison, most home theater projectors have 4X or 5X wheels. Please note that even those few people sensitive to the rainbow effect, will not see it all the time. On static presentations, like normal Poweroint, or spreadsheets, only the most sensitive to the rainbow effect will even see it on projectors with those slow 2X color wheels. Switch to video, however, and more people will notice it. Where it really becomes most noticeable is in dark scenes in videos, where there are very bright objects like lights, and the image is panning quickly. You tend to see a flash of "rainbow" red/green/blue trailing the bright object. (I am only very slightly sensitive to rainbows- actually probably that's a blessing as a reviewer - a reviewer who can never see the rainbow effect, really is unlikely to be able to comment well on it.) My own home theater projector switches between 4X and 5X speeds depending on it's brightness mode, and I virtually never spot it unless I'm very tired, and am moving my head.
As a result, even those sensitive to RBE (RainBow Effect) are less likely to notice it on a traditional non-movie commercial video, because most of the scenes will not be dark ones. Thus, it is home theater people watching movies that are the ones most likely to notice, and that's why home theater projectors use faster wheels.
I've never seen any numbers pubished that give an idea of what percentage of the population is sensitive to RBE. I would guess, just for the fun of it, that only a couple of percent can detect it using home theater projectors, and an even smaller percent on slower business projectors on static presentations like Powerpoint.
I was able to pick up the rainbow effect only slightly, on the "right type of scenes" (mixed dark and bright)when watching the various movies I used for the photos above. It was extremely slight and very rare, unless I did things to bring it out, like shaking my head or moving it from side to side very quickly.
So, the bottom line here, is the Panasonic with its 3X wheel should be more than acceptable for just about all commercial applications, including church use, and large auditorium usage, and would almost certainly be judged acceptable in movie theaters for running movie trailers and commercials before the feature.
Image Quality Wrap-up
I've tried to cover quite a bit in this section so let me summarize.
The Panasonic PT-DW5000U is an extremely bright projector capable of producing the full 4500 lumens it claims. It's out of the box color accuracy is about as good as you can expect in a commercial projector, with some sacrifice of color accuracy in it's brightest mode, and far less in lower power modes.
Accuracy can be further improved for critical color applications with a basic, or full calibration, but Cinema mode for example is very impressive without tweaking (although there is a very slight shift to green). For critical viewing such as a screening room environment, the projector would likely be calibrated, and used in its least bright mode - Cinema, with contrast set to High Contrast. Even in this mode, the projector can still kick out about 1000 lumens - more than twice as bright as a typical home theater projector.
The Panasonic performs well in other image areas too, including compression technology, and sharpness. I will note that for those wanting to handle a traditional XGA resolution source, without any compression, but do need a widescreen projector, could opt for an LCD competitor as most of those are slightly higher resolution. Most commercial widescreen LCD projectors (there are only a handful) are 1366x768 rather than 1280x720, so they can handle the full 768 lines without compression. Of course those same LCD projectors cannot match the contrast and black levels of DLP's like this Panasonic projector.
If RBE should actually be an issue, then your choices are twofold, there are one or two LCD widescreen projectors that compete, the Sanyo WF-10 and it's Christie and Eiki versions (Sanyo builds them all). They of course would not have any RBE, but will also not be able to match the contrast ratio and black levels, and would have that slightly "harder" look that their more visible pixel structures create. The other alternative is to move to 3 chip DLP projectors, sort of the best of both worlds. The only real downside there is that you are likly looking at, at least two to four times the price.
So, let's just say, I'm really impressed. Time to move on to the General Performance section and talk about the remote, menus, and some of the many features that I have yet to mention, that are typical of higher end commercial projectors.