Runco LS-5 Projector - Image Quality
Runco LS-5 images below, are from either Blu-ray, or HDTV These images are not overly accurate representations of the image the Runco LS-5 projects on the screen. There are slight color shifts, saturation differences, etc. Still, in this case, I'm very pleased with how the images came out. We made no effort to affect the LS-5 projector image in terms of color, although we did dial down contrast slightly, to better match what we saw on the screen, but that is all.
These images are provided to support the commentary. In reality, the projectors always look better than the images in our reviews, even the LS-5 projector, whose images came out better than most.
6/18/2011 - Art Feierman
LS-5 Out of the Box Picture Quality
For all the measurements and settings, visit the calibration page.
The LS-5 was not quite as perfect out of the box as the more expensive Runcos. Actually Cinema was a little warm - a touch too much red. Native lamp was best, and very close. In Native lamp, the projector looked about as good as most other projectors - after we calibrate them. That is to say, the Native Lamp mode, starts out a lot better than any mode, in most projectors.
If a calibrator never touched this projector, most folks would still be extremely happy with the color, but... This is a Runco, and it's almost certainly going to be delivered, setup, and calibrated before the dealer lets you sit down and enjoy.
The image immediately below is an all digital image from the DVE test disc.
Let's look at Leeloo's below (The Fifth Element) Your display will be different, no doubt. The images on this page are all post-calibration.
Sure skin tones look great, and that's not all that hard on brighter scenes, but maintaining that natural skin look in darker scenes is often a real challenge.
Of all the movies I watched using this LS-5 after it was calibrated, the only ones where I wasn't happy with the color, were those movies that never look right on anything. The movie Red is one of those, and I've scattered several shots thoughout this review. Most things in Red, tend to look almost right, but not quite. (OK, somehow Morgan Freeman tends to always look about right.) Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, and John Malkovich, though, always seem to be a touch off on skin tones.
That's not the case with Lord of the Rings. Gandalf above, at night, with the threatening red glow of Mordor on his face, looks great, as does Arwen, below, in a shaded green forest (that caste is detectable in her image (slightly more towards green at the top of her head).
Next are three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale, under different lighting conditions, shot with the LS5 projector, using my recently aquired Canon 60D, dSLR. It does a better job than the old Olympus, making comparisons with images shot in older reviews more difficult.
Again, as noted, the new Canon camera seems to be adding a touch of reddish purple, to all the images. Just a touch. Still learning the new camera.
Skin Tones Change with Lighting
It's not the Runco LS-5, or any other display. Light sources in the real world, and Hollywood vary dramatically, from natural to stage lighting, and everything from night to a fire in the hearth, to bright sunlight, will mean a different color temp and with it, skin tones will be affected dramatically. Correct skin tone appearance varies, depending on the lighting. Consider these four images, the first in direct sunlight, the second is an airport scene with fluorescent lighting, the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade - indirect lighting, and finally, a night scene!
Some additional excellent examples of skin tones, starting with
Three from Quantum of Solace:
Runco LS-5 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
The LS-5 projector does very nicely in terms of black level performance. True, it can't match the higher end and more expensive JVC projectors - the older RS25 and RS35, and newer RS50 (not reviewed), and RS60 (a partial review, limited look).
The LS-5 relies on a dynamic iris to achieve the blackest blacks like most home theater projectors. Runco's iris, however is exceptionally smooth, rarely noticeable at all unless you are trying to detect its action., or perhaps I should say, the end result is an excellent compromise between really good blacks and really smooth iris operation. Either way, I had no issues with the black level performance. As I have said more times (in more reviews) than I care to remember, once you reach a certain level of black level performance, other things, (like exceptional color) start becoming more important. True, really dark scenes with minor bright lights won't look as good as the top of the line JVCs, but, those scenes still look fine with a lot of "pop". The LS-5 projector behaves in terms of black level performance more along the lines of the Sony VPL-VW90ES, and the Epson 8700UB. The 8700UB, by far the best blacks among the lower cost projectors, seems to best the LS-5, but its iris action is not as smooth, and therefore, on occasion, more noticeable.
In terms of similar projectors, the Optoma HD8600 comes to mind as another really good (and not dissimilarly priced) single chip DLP. In our original review of that Optoma HD8600, though we found the iris so noticeable, that we didn't like using it. Almost a year later we got to review the improved iris, and it was far better, but still not near as smooth as this Runco projector.
In other words, I've watched almost 100 hours on this Runco, and I never felt a compelling need (even on the darkest of scenes) to switch back to my JVC RS20, which does do blacker blacks. Like that Optoma I just mentioned, the Sony VW90ES, and several other really good home theater projectors, the LightStyle LS-5 delivers really good black performance, that should satisfy all but the hardest core - must have a JVC for the blacks type person, disregarding other aspects of the projectors.
Before we start with our collection (from different projectors) of the Starship image from The Fifth Element, first some side by side comparisons shot directly between the LS-5 projector and the Epson 8700UB. While the Epson is less than 1/3 the price, as noted, few projectors (other than the higher end JVC's (not the RS15 - nor their newer X3, RS40), unless they have significantly improved their blacks, and no reason to believe that!)
We're used to the Epson outperforming everything but those two top of the line JVC projectors.
No surprise then, that on a number of very dark and mixed dark scenes, the Epson does just slightly better than the LightStyle LS-5 projector. When I say slightly, I mean, the Epson may edge out the Runco, but don't expect the Panasonic, Mitsubishi, and other lower cost ultra high contrast projectors to beat, or even match the Runco.
Here are those side by sides - The Casino Royale night train scene, the Starship scene from The 5th Element, and one submarine image from Red October (I normally use clips of the submarines to determine which manufacturers know how to make dynamic irises that are smooth, and which come up short).
I should also note, that the Epson has two modes for their dynamic iris. Normal, which is almost, but just not quite as smooth as the Runco, and High Speed, which really doesn't compare well on these very dark, slow scenes. I normally watch with the Epson set to Normal.
Ok, for those who like to stare and compare, here's a whole bunch of projectors doing the starship image.
Runco LS-5 - slightly overexposed
Runco LS-5 - Extremely overexposed
Runco LS-7 (3 chip, 720p), extremely overexposed:
JVC DLA-RS25 - Extremely overexposed (note, the blacks don't look darker than the LS-5, but note the pause icon (lower left), you can tell by comparing them, that the RS-25 is more overexposed, explaining the blacks not being quite as black.
Sony VPL-VW90ES - Extremely overexposed:
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB - Extremely Overexposed:
Runco LS-7, normal exposure:
JVC RS25 Slightly overexposed:
Next: These two all digital images images are good ones for considering black levels and dark shadow detail in mostly dark scenes but with some pure 100 IRE content. Look for the richness in the black part of some of the buildings and also, the sky, in the second image. Both of these first two, are digital hi-def images from the DVE-HD calibration disc.
Runco LS-5 Shadow Detail Performance
Excellent! By the time I had gotten to checking out the night train scene I photograph in Casino Royale, I already knew what I would see. Really exceptional shadow detail. Okay, not the blackest blacks around, (which does make the darkest detail hard to spot), but the black level performance of this DLP projector is still excellent, with only those JVC's doing appreciably better. The amount of detail you can see in the shrubs on the right behind the tracks and in the trees, is second to perhaps only one or two projectors in the $4000 and up price range.
That's more than I ask for, to be pleased. Let's just say, don't worry about shadow detail once your projector is adjusted. For my own viewing, I've already knocked Brightness down one more number than Mike recommends, giving up a tiny amount of dark shadow detail for a small drop overall, in the black levels.
Above, a previously never used image from the latest Narnia: The Dawn Treader: The Library on the The Dawn Treader.
Below, the Space Cowboys / Clint Eastwood very dark image. First is the Runco LS-5 projector, then, of course, the LS-10d, followed by the LS-7, then the JVC RS25, the Sony VPL-VW85, the Mitsubishi HC7000, and the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB.
Note the noticeable difference in color is due to the different camera used for the LS5 shoot.
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The LS-5 (top left) does very well, in terms of shadow detail. Next to it on the first row, is the LS-10d Those images are followed by the InFocus SP8602 and the Epson 8700UB (second row). The third row is the JVC RS-35 Mitsubishi HC7000 (left), and the Sony VPL-VW85 is last.
On the left, below, is the Runco LS-5, the middle, the JVC RS35, and on the right, the VPL-VW90ES. The exposures are all a little different, but you should be able to appreciate the combination of shadow detail and dark blacks
Next, perhaps the most revealing of the images:
There is simply a great deal of detail to be seen in the shrubs. also in the the lower part of the woods. This image has been greatly overexposed to make the detail more visible. When comparing with the same photo from other projectors below, remember that the exposures are all a bit different, and you have to compensate, if you want to draw your own conclusions.
The remaining three are the Epson Home Cinema 8700UB, the Mitsubishi HC7000 and the Optoma HD8600.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
A mix of additional images to show off the Runco LS-5:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
Back to movies - here's a couple from Star Trek and a couple more from Casino Royale:
Runco LS-5 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
OK, the LS-5 is far from the brightest projector out there in its brightest mode. In fact it only gets up around 800 lumens, while we consider an average bright mode to be 1000.
On the other side, its colors and overall picture look better in "brightest" mode than most projectors can do in "best" mode.
The LS-5 is not a projector for the family room, and sports and HDTV is a good reason why. It's not designed to tackle any really siginficant intentional ambient light. This puts the LightStyle LS-5 projector in line with a variety of projectors in that $4K to $12K price range, including the all the Sony and JVC models.
In a dedicated theater, like mine, though, not a problem. My theater with its dark everything has lots of down facing lighting in the back, and I can have a party going on, with plenty of light to see each other in the back half of the room, while sports still looks great.
For this review's non-movie images, some shots from the last couple of Superbowls, and some from Lady Gaga and U2 concerts. (My kind of stuff - BTW, the U2 360 tour - saw them last week from the floor. Amazing concert)!
Over all, the Runco projector has plenty of "pop and wow" in the proper room. That my friends will all attest to. The thing is, with light/white walls, ceilings, etc, the 800ish lumens are going to run out of power to cut through any significant ambient light.
Bottom line for HDTV, and Sports Viewing with the Runco LS-5 Projector:
The bottom line is this. The LS-5 projector will do an awesome job in a dedicated home theater (or comparable dark room), with great color. Want to move out into more of a family room? Then the LS-5's probably not a good choice, but Runco has a solution - their LS-HB (for high brightness), for, I believe, just $1000 more.
I must say, with the LS-5 I'm enjoying viewing sports in essentially a "best" mode, with all the skin tones looking great - no typical slight green push in other projectors Dynamic or livingroom modes. Sports looks as good as movies when it comes to color. Too bad the LS-5 lacks creative frame interpolation for smooth motion. That would have been a nice extra. BTW I have been watching sports with SatCo turned on.
Two last images: Lady Gaga and Bono (both taken with some ambient light allowed)!