Sanyo PLV-Z2000: 1080p Home Theater Projector Review - Image Quality
Check out how the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 fared in our comparison report.
So you have an idea where I'm headed in this section, let me say that the PLV-Z2000 projector, in its best movie mode - Pure Cinema - produces one of the most natural looking images, compared to projectors at almost any price.
It excels in skin tone handling, and does a great job in terms of shadow details. Black levels are good, but hardly exceptional, rather comparable with most projectors near its price. Okay, let's take a closer look.
The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Home Theater Projector: Skin Tones
As noted above, Pure Cinema is the best mode, if you are searching for the best reproduction of movies. Creative has a bit more "pop" which makes Pure Cinema seem a touch muted, but will not produce as natural looking skin tone. The third cinema mode is Brilliant Cinema, which is by far the brightest, yet still does a good job on skin tones.
The images below are all shot with the projector in Pure Cinema mode unless otherwise noted.
First, some images from standard DVD. From Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, here are images of Gandalf and Arwen. You may click on most of the images for much larger versions. Below the first image of Gandalf, you will find a similar frame shot of the Optoma HD80/HD8000. Very similar (the exposures are never the same).
The images below, unless noted otherwise, are all from Blu-ray DVDs.
The sci-fi movie Aeon Flux, is an excellent movie in terms of production values that show off a projector's ability. These first two images are from Aeon Flux.
Keep in mind, that the trick is to still have skin tones look natural, yet different, under different lighting conditions. The movie director's intent can vary greatly. You want a projector that looks like it's doing just what the director intended.
This is the first review to feature images from the recent Bond flick, Casino Royale. You'll see images of James Bond, under different lighting conditions, and each tends to look natural, for that lighting, even though they are different.
The image above, outdoors in the shade - filtered light. Below, in the airport - flourescent type lighting.
Below, bright sunlight anyone?
Quicktip: As you start looking at photos, first, my usual warning: The photos of screen scenes are here to support the commentary, not the other way around. Much is lost or changed in the process of getting from what is projected on the screen by a projector, through a camera, to your computer monitor, that everything needs to be taken with a "pound" of salt (or at least more than a few grains of salt).
Neither of my digital cameras, nor your computer monitor can begin to match the dynamic range the projector offers. The camera and displays lose a lot of info (shadow detail, create non-representative black levels, and crush whites and blacks) and also are not perfect in terms of color accuracy. Still the photos should be helpful when taken with the comments. Certainly, they make the review prettier, if nothing else. In the case of this Sanyo review, as with the older PT-AX100U, for some reason, I encounter difficulties with the color balance captured on my camera. Again, there is a visible shift to red. I'm not sure why, but I did something I normally shun, which is to make a minor adjustment to the images to better reflect what the projector actually projects. Enjoy!
Also, I should note, that on some displays, these images all appear too contrasty. If that's the case, adjust your monitor, or graphics card controls. On the screen, these images definitely do not look too contrasty.
The next two images are from House of the Flying Daggers
The next image is from Aeon Flux again. And below it, click on the double frame to see a larger version of a comparison of the Optoma HD8000 on the left, and the Sanyo, on the right. (Sorry, the first one came out a little dark.)
Comparing the two above, I find the skin tones softer on the Sanyo projector (on the right). The Optoma, which is also very good, seems to be a little more contrasty. The Optoma initially stands out compared to the Sanyo, but if you look at just one image, for a bit, I find the Sanyo to be the more natural. It's always easy to pump up an image if you prefer it, the trick is to get it right to begin with.
Please note, in my review of the Optoma HD8000 and HD80 (same projector, except for minor differences, and method of distribution), I was impressed with its skin tone handling. The Sanyo, however, I believe to be better.
When it came to black and white and other effects, the grayscale balance of the PLV-Z2000 didn't show any problem shifts in warmth between brighter and darker grays.
The image of Nancy, below, is from Sin City, from a standard DVD. These scene has an intentional sepia like look to it. The movie is in black and white, or tones like this, with spot colors added for effect.
When testing the first batch of 1080p projectors last fall and spring, I would probably have to say that Sony's $4495 Pearl - their VPL-VW50, had the most natural skin tones (even better than my JVC RS1). This Sanyo definitely reminds me very much of the Sony.
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Projector: Black Levels and Shadow Detail
The Sanyo uses a dynamic irs and dynamic lamp system to improve black levels. Most LCD home theater projectors use dynamic iris or a dynamically controlled lamp, or both. This is because DLP chips do better black levels than LCD panels.
I am pleased to report that this is the best dynamic lamp/iris system Sanyo has yet produced. While I could occasionally detect their action when really looking for it, overall, it is non-intrusive, you just aren't likely to be aware of it, and that's what matters. (I probably shouldn't have said anything.) There will always be some scene change that will make these technologies detectable, but done right, it's a big plus.
When it actually comes to the black level performance overall, the Z2000 is about average. Compared, for example, to the HD8000, most of the time (depending on the scenes), the Optoma would have slightly blacker blacks. There were times where that is reversed. The point though, is these two are very close in this regard, with the slight overall advantage going to the HD8000.
On the other hand, when it comes to shadow detail, the Sanyo is downright superb. I do believe it's about the best I've seen yet, among projectors within this range of black level performance.
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Black Levels
Overall, blacks are reasonably black, but you don't get that jet black feel, to them. On white screens around 100" inches or less diagonal, you are likely to notice the letterboxing if you have a fully darkened room.
The images above and below are from Space Cowboys. Watching the satellite sequence above was a good experience. I know other projectors can do a bit better, but it passed that threshold where it's a problem rather easily. In other words, it worked for me.
Two from Sin City (standard DVD):
Sin City is a movie that appreciates a projector with great black levels. I found, again, that the PLV-Z2000's were rather average, yet good enough to satisfy me, so it is not a real detriment.
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Shadow Details
The first image is from Aeon Flux, a dark night scene. Overall the Sanyo projector gives a nice dark image, but there's detail in the shadows just about everywhere. The photo is slightly overexposed so you can look at shadows in the lower part of the roof, and around the green bushes, and in the edges of the road. Clicking on it provides a closeup of the upper left side.
Next click to compare the Sanyo, on the right, with the Optoma HD8000 on the left. The image is further overexposed so you can look at the darkest areas for differences.
From Phantom of the Opera, this cavern scene is a good test of shadow details. You can also find these images on almost all reviews done in the last year, for comparison purposes. Click on the thumbnail image for a large version that is very overexposed to reveal the details that the camera loses at normal exposure. Look for all the details in the dark areas in the walls, and ground. The frescos on the walls are easily visible, the structure of the various ducts in the walls, which are very dark, are distinguishable, which is more than a number of other projectors can claim.
Click on the thumbnail image from Phantom of the Opera for an overexposed enlargement. You can make out all the frescos on the wall, and details in just about all of the darkest parts of the wall.
Here's a good image of Clint Eastwood, from an extremely dark scene from Space Cowboys. In a room illuminated by only a single table lamp, this truly is a dark scene.
This overexposed (above) image of Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys, reveals a respectable amount of shadow information in the wall on the right half of the image, but the blacks don't get black enough to bring out all the information. In this case, although the blacks were never inky black, the detail is excellent, rivaling far more expensive projectors. In fact, you can make out on the back wall, that you are looking at mini-blinds, and there is plenty of other detail visible.
Below is the same scene but from the InFocus 82, a 1080p DLP projector well over twice the price. As you can see, the InFocus is doing the blacker blacks, but you can see slightly more detail on the Sanyo, especially in the upper right corner, and the blinds in the background. Note, though that the InFocus image is a little darker, which has some impact.
Next is an image frequently used from Lord of the Rings. This image below is badly overexposed so you can see the details that the projector captures in the shed on the right, along the ground and the structure on the left. This image is available in most reviews done in the last couple of years. Click on the thumbnail for an overexposed image. You can clearly see details in the shed on the right, on the posts of the open structure on the left, and along the bottom of the image.
Our last image is from Space Cowboys, and is an overexposed image of the re-entry scene. Click on the left thumbnail image. Look for subtle detail in the right side of the earth. The image on the left is the Sanyo, and on the right, the Optoma HD8000. Look to the dark areas on the right for differences in details. The exposures are obviously different enough that you'll have to "interpolate" a little.
Below, the left image, is the PLV-Z2000, the right one is the Mitsubishi HC4900, a slightly more expensive LCD projector (with poorer black levels)
The one below is from the Epson Home Cinema 1080.
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Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Home Theater Projector: Sharpness
The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 is a particularly sharp 1080p projector. In that it reminds me of the Mitsubishi HC6000, a projector whose sharpness I appreciated. After much viewing of the Z2000, I can definitely say it comes across visibly (yet not drastically) sharper than my JVC RS1 at normal seating distances.
Three very close-up crops of this DTS disk start screen. The one of the left, is the Sanyo, the Middle, the Optoma HD8000, and on the right, the Mitsubishi HC6000 I just mentioned.
Our next image is from Aeon Flux, Blu-Ray. Please note the sharpness in her eyes, and hair:
Our last sharpness image is a close-up of this computer monitor from Space Cowboys on Blu-ray. You can click for larger images to compare the readability,
Click on the left thumbnail for a large, cropped version of the original frame on the PLV-Z2000, and the middle the Optoma HD8000 projector. On the right, my JVC RS1.
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Projector Overall Picture Quality
In its Pure Cinema mode, the PLV-Z2000 is a pleasure to watch on movies. My initial reaction upon first watching it, was that the picture was somewhat muted, however, the long one watches movies in that mode, the more one realizes, that other projectors tend to be more dynamic looking, but at the same time less realistic or natural. We're not talking huge differences, but, then, almost all 1080p projectors are at least very good products, just with different strengths and weaknesses.
Where the PLV-Z2000 home theater projector shines, is on skin tones, but everything else is at least respectable (black levels) or better (sharpness and shadow detail). Overall, that means the PLV-Z2000 is going to please on almost any scene viewed, within the limits of its overall brightness.
Below are a number of photos of a wide variety of types of scenes. All are handled very well by the Sanyo.
But first, a quick demonstration of the differences between Pure Cinema, and the slightly more vibrant (and touch less natural), Creative Cinema mode, plus the much brighter, yet still very good Brilliant Cinema mode. I've taken the scene and below is one frame photographed in each of these modes. I attempted to get the exposures as close as possible to each other, to make comparing, easy. Of course they are never perfectly matched. The first image is in the Pure Cinema mode (it's the only one of the three you can click on, to enlarge), followed by Creative, then Brilliant:
PLV-Z2000 Projector - HDTV Sources
As usual, I don't calibrate the modes for TV viewing, as I do for movie watching, so there is some room for improvement on these images. Overall, I watched a couple of football games, The Tonight Show, the Colbert Report, Discovery HD, and some standard definition TV as well. I did almost all of my viewing, in Living room mode. Dynamic mode was useful when I partially raised my motorized shades, to let in more outside light, but was typical of such modes, with very cool coloration (too blue), and some overemphasis on green.
Vivid, the brightest mode, was worse. Even cooler, and with way more green content than Dynamic mode, it was very inaccurate to watch, and not very pleasant. That's not to say that adjusting it a bit can't improve it noticeably, at the cost of some, but not too many lumens.
All of these images, except for the comparison of modes are shot from Living room mode:
And, two images from HD music videos (on MTV's M-HD channel).
More general photos of Sanyo's PLV-Z2000, in action:
The image above, from Pirates of the Carribean, shows good flesh tones, plenty of detail in the dark stone wall, and natural, but somewhat overexposed background trees, sand and water (camera's limitations).
The image above, and the "Eye" image immediately below are from Aeon Flux. What is significant about these two is that these images that I always refer to in their file names as "white" are shot in lighting that draws off most of the color.
The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 home theater projector handles the image above (and the one below), as well as any projector I've reviewed. Most projectors simply live up to that "white" name I use to describe these images. Other projectors also do have some color texture, but the Sanyo does a superb job. You really can feel/see the natural skin tone that is part of her face. Others just leave you feeling that it was intended to have the natural skin color be washed out. I can't recall any other projector that does it better, only possibly, the Sony VW50, and not even my JVC RS1 does these two images this well. Kudos!
Sepia style image above is from Sin City. Nice, soft, not too contrasty transitions from dark to light areas, excellent shadow detail.
And lastly, from House of the Flying Daggers:
As usual I have scattered additional images in the overview and summary pages, for your consideration, but now it's time to look at general performance issues - including the menus, brightness, calibration, and projector screen recommendations.