Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector - Image Quality
Below, we consider several aspects of The Sanyo PLV-Z4000 projector's picture quality, including performance right out of the box, skin tones, black level performance, shadow detail, color, and how it performs for sports in particular, but also HDTV in general.
The images are provided to support the commentary, so don't read too much into them, such as expecting an exact reproduction of skin tones. In reality, the projectors always look better than the images in our reviews, but the images are far more useful in comparing things like black levels and shadow detail, than skin tones, or overall color accuracy.
9/6/2010 - Art Feierman
PLV-Z4000 Out of the Box Picture Quality
The Sanyo PLV-Z4000, looks a lot better than I expected. I recalled that the older PLV-Z3000 was unimpressive, when first fired up, in terms of color. Not so the Z4000, I would say that the PLV-Z4000 looks pretty good. The image is a bit warm, a little over 7000K, instead of being down around 6500K where it should be.
Dynamic mode, as expected, was not wonderful, in pure color accuracy, but, for a mode designed for maximum lumens it looks better than most competitors. I was particularly pleased with Dynamic for football viewing, even right out of the box.
Post calibration, PLV-Z4000 skin tones are not only extremely good, but again better than the Z3000. With the older projector, Mike couldn't quite get rid of a yellow green caste, which was always slightly noticeably on skin tones. The PLV-Z4000, on the other hand, is virtually free of that shift. Overall, I would describe skin tones as rather pleasing, although in very dark scenes, they do seem to pick up a little extra red. (Keep in mind, that there's plenty of variation in color, in the content you watch, often far more than these subtle shifts.)
To start, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, in HD on Blu-ray. The older projector's review pre-dates the blu-ray release.
Here are three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale, under different lighting conditions. The point here, is that correct skin tones vary, depending on the lighting. You can expect significantly different looking skin tones, when switching from bright sunlight, to nighttime, fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three images, the first, in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with fluorescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade - indirect lighting.
Black Levels & Shadow Detail
First is a seriously overexposed shot of the starship in The Fifth Element. Immediately below it, is a less overexposed version, for better comparing with the same image in older reviews. In the first image, I have left in part of the letterboxing, so you can see the basic black level more easily.
Immediately below, the older Z3000
For comparison, here's the same image from the Epson 8500UB.
And below is the Panasonic PT-AE4000, which slightly bests the Sanyo PLV-Z4000:
Consider two additional images which are good ones for considering black levels. Look for the richness in the black part of some of the buildings and, also, the sky, in the second image. Both of these are digital hi-def images from the DVE-HD calibration disc.
Shadow Detail Performance
The PLV-Z4000 exhibits rather excellent shadow detail performance. It slightly bests the Panasonic PT-AE4000, and a touch more so, beats the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB. And all of them are at least very good. Shadow detail performance is a non-issue with the PLV-Z4000, it reveals plenty.
Top left: PLV-Z4000, Middle: Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, Right: Panasonic PT-AE4000
The next set of comparison images is from Space Cowboys. This is a very dark scene with Clint Eastwood, on Blu-ray disc. The photos are intentionally way overexposed. Look for the blacks in the shades, and the details in those shades in the form of the white trim. (At this level of overexposure, don't even worry about the skin tones, as in these type of photos they always look terrible, and way oversaturated/too high contrast).
First image is the PLV-Z4000, followed by the Z3000, the older Mitsubishi HC6500. Next is the the Sony VW60. The last two in the sequence are the Sanyo PLV-Z700, Panasonic PT-AE4000.
The PLV-Z4000 does a really good job on revealing details in the window shades, definitely bettter than most of the competition.
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The PLV-Z4000 (top left) shows really good shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite. Next to it on the first row, is the older Z3000. Those images are followed by the Sony VPL-VW60 and the Sanyo PLV-Z700 on the right.
The re-entry image below, is a tough shadow detail test. Projectors with weak black levels and average shadow detail ability tend to generate an image where much of the right side of earth, looks to have that flat, lacking in detail look. All projectors pick up some of the brighter features on the right side, while better ones, pick up a lot more and usually have richer blacks as well.
On the left, is the PLV-Z4000, the middle, the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, and on the right, the Vivitek H5080, a more expensive single chip DLP projector recently reviewed.. The Sanyo outperforms the Epson by a bit, and holds its own with others including the Panasonic.
Below is a heavily overexposed scene from Lord of the Rings. The overexposure lets you see all the details in the shed on the right, the structure on the left, and the plants and ground along the lower right. The PLV-Z4000 performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the Sanyo PLV-Z4000, Sanyo PLV-Z700 in the center, and the right for the PT-AE3000U.
Our last comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Sanyo PLV-Z4000, the second is the LG CF181D, then the BenQ W1000 (a $999 projector) and the last one is from the Panasonic PT-AE4000.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
A mix of additional images to show off the PLV-Z4000:
From the DTS Blu-ray test disk, consider these:
From the movie 2012:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
Watching your new home theater projector is not just about watching film and digital content in a darkened (as fully as possible) room. There are times when friends are over, and it's time for football, or Olympics, or US Open, or perhaps just lots of spectacular content on channels like Discovery HD, Smithsonian HD, Travel HD, etc. Let's take a look:
Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
I am extremely pleased with the PLV-Z4000's Dynamic mode. Colors are pushed a bit, but that makes sense, as you would be using the mode to cut through ambient light. Color balance is better than found on most "brightest modes". In addition, the Sanyo has a couple other "bright modes", but for most sports, Dynamic is the way to go. Should you be watching something very color accurate off of HDTV, of course, you can use one of the other modes, such as Living - not quite as bright, but a bit more accurate, or even a calibrated Natural, or Brilliant Cinema.
The image above was taken with most of recessed lights in my room on, at moderate intensity. I'd describe the room as reasonably, but softly lit. Enough to party, but hardly bright. The picture to the right is a good representation of the room's lighting.
If there's one relative weakness of the PLV-Z4000 compared to a lot of the competition, it's that, in brightest mode, the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 is still slightly below average brightness among 1080p projectors in "brightest mode." We consider about 1000 lumens to be average (though the variation out there is all over the place.)
These sports images were shot in my main theater - evening - just using a lot of recessed lighting, but no daylight pouring in from around my window shades. While the room was reasonably well lit (about typical when we're watching something sports, etc. at night), the Sanyo had no trouble at all, in fact it was downright vibrant!
That said, I did all my viewing of the PLV-Z4000 while projecting image sizes between 100" diagonal (16:9) and 110" diagonal (you can see the smaller image on the 128" screen in the image above, but mostly down around 100"). This isn't a "big screen projector" so no point complaining about being thin on lumens on a 128" high contrast gray screen like my Firehawk. Since this projector will work best with smaller screens, that's the way I viewed the projector!
Image above taken with the same room lighting as the smaller insert above.
Again, one of the best looking Dynamic modes - for example, although the Epson 8500UB is about 50% brighter comparing their Dynamic modes, there's no question that the color on the Sanyo looks a lot better - the Epson definitely is stronger on greens (and yellows) in its dynamic mode. To have a better comparison, a quick calibration of the Epson Living Room mode, is closer to the Sanyo, but gives up about half the lumen difference.
I did view a wide range of content, including some music videos, plenty of HD content (non-sports) and several pre-season and college games, all on the PLV-Z4000. I'm telling ya, between the better than typical bright mode, and Creative Frame Interpolation (which is not only good for sports, but also all that fancy HD content - scenery, for example, because lots of panning is often used in the "filming", and CFI definitely is great at smoothing out background pans)!
Other than lack of tons of brightness, consider the PLV-Z4000 to be one of the better projectors for HD / Sports. Oh, don't get me wrong - a projector like the LG CF181D, has far, far, more lumens to work with, also good color, etc. but costs about $500 more. That would be a better sports projector overall, I would think, but, come movie time, the Sanyo will beat the LG on all those dark scenes thanks to the better black level performance.
That's right - there are always trade-offs, but if you are a smaller screen owner, the PLV-Z4000 makes an excellent choice for sports and HD viewing, in part due to the superior color (or rather, relatively pleasing to watch color) of it's brightest mode, compared to many others.