Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector Review

The Sanyo sports what is apparently the same Creative Frame Interpolation (CFI) as the Z3000. I would expect that in the 2+ years since we first reviewed the Z3000, the firmware has probably been tweaked as a matter of nature, but, it’s been too long to even begin to be sure of differences

CFI starts (for movies) with the original 24 frame per second speed that the film was shot at, and increases the number of frames to 96 (4x) or 120 (5x) fps. When working with 1080p 30 or 60 fps content (1080p, 1080i), it typically increases the frame rate to 120 fps.

The idea is to eliminate forms of motion blur caused by the original content being created at too slow a speed (24fps or 30fps). Simply repeating frames (like the Mitsubishi HC7000, 24 to 48fps), doesn’t really accomplish much. What Sanyo and the other three do, however, is go a step further. The Sanyo looks at the original frame one, and then frame two. Image processing identifies “objects that are moving”, and creates 3 new frames – we’ll call them 1a, 1b, and 1c, to be inserted in between frame one and two. In each of the new frames the moving objects are recreated in positions between frame one and two.

Consider a plane flying from the left side of the screen to the right. Let’s assume in frame 1, it’s at the left border, and in frame two, it’s at the 1/4 point by frame two. The Sanyo’s creation of frame 1a, will have that plane placed 1/3 of the way between frame 1 and 2, the next frame, half way in between, and frame 1c, 2/3 of the way, then finally frame two appears. You end up with a smoother looking object. Truth is, though, CFI is perhaps most effective is smoothing out backgrounds as a camera pans. To me, with movies, that’s the core benefit. As with all CFI’s (all I’ve seen so far), CFI creates that “live digital video” or “soap opera” look to the image, eliminating what we take to be the look of film. This changes the world. Few who pay attention, will want CFI on for movies, but almost everyone will appreciate it for sports.

Dynamic Image controls

Like many projectors, there are a number of image enhancement features. While it can be argued that many such features may add something to the image, ultimately, these controls are modifying the original image, and therefore, the final result may no longer be what the director intended. For purists, that’s pretty unacceptable.

Most of today’s projectors have a number of such controls. In the case of the Sanyo PLV-Z4000, that includes Dynamic Gamma, Black Stretch, a dynamic iris, lamp dimming, and several others. It’s impossible for a reviewer to observe all the combinations, and they all interact. The number of combinations is overwhelming, especially considering some features affect others.

We discuss some of the effects of many of these features in the Performance section, under Brightness. You will see that lamp dimming, dynamic vs. fixed iris, and iris manual settings all have significant impact on brightness (as well as the final image). One thing to note, the core difference between Sanyo’s Pure Cinema, and Creative Cinema modes is the use of a lot of dynamic features, not a difference (apparently) in color tables. Best I can tell, other than the various “feature” settings, Pure and Creative are inherently the same. Remember these are “just” presets – put there for convenience, offering you many different trade-offs. Some subtle, some not. To attempt a calibration, it shouldn’t matter which preset you start with, you should pretty much end up in the same place, when done.

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