Sharp XV-Z17000 Projector - Image Quality
These XV-Z17000 home theater projector images below are all taken using Blu-ray or HDTV sources. These Sharp XV-Z17000 projector images are far from perfect reprentations. By the time the projected image gets to your eyeball, via digital SLR, software, browsers, and your monitor, there are definite color shifts, saturation differences, contrast differences... We attempt to have the images as close as possible to what was on the projector screen, but even then, I'm trying to match on the display of a MacBook Pro. Your setup will likely look different. The XV-Z17000 images are here to support the commentary, but keep in mind these limitations when trying to compare images from the XV-Z17000 projector with other home theater projectors. Take them "with a grain of salt". Those images relating to black level performance and sharpness, however, are pretty reliable, color accuracy, getting to you (and dynamic range) are the tough issues.
Let me say that all home theater projectors, including the Sharp XV-Z17000, definitely look better live, than in even the best looking images here would suggest. (If you have a decent screen, and good lighting control.)
2/5/2011 - Art Feierman
Sharp XV-Z17000 Out of the Box Picture Quality
The Sharp projector looks better than most, "out of the box". The color temperature (Movie 1 or Movie 2 mode) is only slightly above the ideal 6500K, in fact it looks like this:
30 IRE – 6607
50 IRE – 6510
80 IRE – 6546
100 IRE – 6623
In reality, while the color temp was great, the image was a touch thin on greens, which fixed right up when calibrated. Due to that, my initial out of the box impression was that skin tones were a bit ruddy. Not too bad, but it might make you want to turn down the color saturation a bit.
Sharp XV-Z17000 Projector - Flesh Tones
Do a little bit of calibration, and the already good, out-of-the-box performance of the Sharp Z17000 projector gets better. That thinness on greens corrects nicely, and skin tones just start looking really good. Remember also, this is a DLP projector, and in general they do tend to have a natural feel to skin tones.
Leeloo, above, from The Fifth Element truly looked great, her hair was rich and vivid, like the film, but the skin tones are subtle, despite the dirt etc., her skin "looks" soft and smooth, supporting her role as "the perfect being".
Skin tones, and "room lighting":
Below are to be our four James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first - full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and then, filtered sunlight in the third image, and finally a night scene. And as one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond - Daniel Craig - to have different looking skin tones.
More images we like for considering skin tones:
In this image of Legolas from Lord of the Rings you can still make out, despite the dark scene, that his face does have some skin tone color, with many other projectors, the night blues, overwhelm his face, and don't leave the feeling of a natural skin tone.
From the DVE-HD calibration disc (digital source material, not film):
Sharp XV-Z17000 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
What we have here, is a "classic" of sorts. You've got a DLP single chip projector, sporting a nice, premium Darkchip 3, a great start towards great blacks. Add to that a dynamic iris, and this XV-Z17000 does a very good job on blacks, despite, what almost seems to be a modest (by today's standards) 40,000:1 contrast ratio. We don't worry about contrast specs, not when dynamic irises are involved. There really isn't much point.
Nonetheless, this Sharp is very good. I would place it (in terms of blacks), to be about comparable to the Sony VWPro1 I recently reviewed. That would have it not quite as good a performer as the Epson 8700UB and 9700UB projectors, but as good as, or even perhaps a touch better, than the Panasonic PT-AE4000, or the Sanyo PLV-Z4000. It's not a match for the JVC DLA-RS15, but that projector - well, we'll be reviewing its replacement, the RS40, real soon.
What is all this fuss about black levels?
It really comes down to scenes that are fairly dark. Let's consider two projectors - one with good blacks, one with great ones.
On an average scene, perhaps a daytime, no sunlight shot, if there is supposed to be a true black area in the image, perhaps parts of a black car, in the shade, the "good" one will do a very good job. The great one's black car will be a touch blacker, but you probably wouldn't notice unless seen side by side. In other words, the difference would be very slight.
Now switch to a very dark scene, such as the night train scene I use below for shadow detail comparison. All of a sudden the difference between the two projectors is quite dramatic. The lower black levels of the great one would make its image "pop", and the good one's image will seem rather dull by comparison. That's the story - short version.
The darker the scene, the more the blacks matter. Thing is, most movies have some fairly dark scenes, and even a significant percentage have some really dark scenes. Now don't forget that if you've got a 15 watt light on in the room, it would throw enough ambient light, that the difference between projectors would be relatively insignificant, yet still there.
Let me also mention: Even if you have white walls (not a good thing) the difference in the projectors would still be there, although not quite as great a difference as with dark walls/floors/ceiling.
Still, how important is it? Well, if you are the person who wants a nice big image, but never bothered to adjust your LCDTV (probably still using the "demo/showroom" or vivid setting), I doubt you'll notice. But, if you get hooked on image quality (become an enthusiast), you'll crave better blacks. This Sharp XV-Z17000 offers up blacks that are sufficiently good, that other factors may become more important in your hunt for a great projector.
3D and Blacks - Already covered that on the first page, but the short of it, is that a projector like this Sharp, will see its brightness AND its black levels drop dramatically. The same very good blacks seem even better with everything darker, though, I expect that the the proportions remain the same (between brighter and darker areas).
Below, a satellite image from Space Cowboys. These are intentionally overexposed to so that the differences in blacks (and shadow detail) are more visible.
Sharp XV-Z17000 image:
BenQ W6000 (DLP) - a direct competitor:
Next, is the starship image from The Fifth Element, intentionally overexposed. That's followed by the same frame - overexposed - on a number of additional projectors. When looking at those, note the level of brightness of the background space, and the letterbox area. If two projectors' images have their background space and letter box at the same brightness, then the image of the starship that is the most overexposed is obviously, the one with the better blacks! Not so obvious? OK, consider, if two starships were identical in exposure, and one had obviously blacker space, etc., then, if we lightened up that one, until its space was the same as projector #2's then its starship would be more overexposed. (One more note, these images taken with a new Canon D60 camera). Previous images (from other reviews) were taken with a definitely not quite as good Olympus E510 dSLR.
Z17000 Projector, overexposed image
Sony VPL-HW15 (LCoS projector under $3K):
Consider two additional (digital) images which are good ones for observing black levels. Coming soon:
Shadow Detail Performance
Excellent shadow detail, even on our favorite dark scene, the night train, in Casino Royale, the shrubs on the far side of the tracks on the right, are very detailed. The Z17000 does at least as good of a job as any home theater projector to come through here in probably at least six months.
The Sharp leaves nothing out, the best i can tell. And that's with a very well balanced gamma, measuring 2.18 (2.2 considered ideal), so it's not that the Sharp is artificially boosting up the dimmest objects found in the very dark ranges.
Bottom line: The XV-Z17000 is rather excellent at revealing dark shadow details. Black level performance is that of an ultra-high contrast projector. There are 2D projectors up around the price of the Z17000 that can't match its blacks, but then there are others that can - especially, the JVC RS40, which likely beats it by a bit. Ultimately, the blacks are more than good enough, so that this projector really can perform rather well on very dark scenes.
Sharp XV-Z17000 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
The images below will be replaced with Z17000 images. For now, they serve as place markers for the new batch of images being processed.
And here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews:
Sharp XV-Z17000 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
A healthy amount of lumens (for 2D), a sharp image, and particularly good color in a brightest mode (not to mention an almost as bright "best" mode), would make you think the Sharp XV-Z17000 would be pretty good at showing sports and HDTV.
I thought so too, and it turns out we're all correct. Oh, one can always use even more lumens, and certainly just under 1200 lumens isn't exactly blinding, just slightly brighter than average, but it is sufficient to do a really nice job on the 100 inch diagonal high contrast gray screen I'm currently using, with some ambient light, and I could tackle a screen a size or two larger, and still handle some controlled ambient light.
3D content, though comes through far less bright. Fortunately, the Sharp has a good amount of lumens, so even in 3D the picture is decent, though hardly bright on a standard gain screen. You are back to viewing in man cave conditions - in terms of room lighting, instead of being able to tolerate a modest amount of ambient light, enough to make watching a football game, more of a social experience.
Above right: Sharp filling 100" Elite HC gray screen surface. Below, the same image properly exposed:
Other 3D content, such as the Universe on Blu-ray, from the HDTV series, proved absolutely stunning in 3D, and on that, I didn't miss the lumens that much since the content is so high contrast. I've recorded a number of 3D studio music sessions, and they too looked really good, though they are generally darker stage settings (but lots of lights). Blacks in most of the 3D images don't look relatively as dark as with the 2D viewing, but found them to be still reasonable.
While I wish for more lumens from this Sharp XV-Z17000 for the 3D viewing, it has been adequate on the 100" screen I'm using, and actually looks brighter still on the testing room screen, a Carada Brilliant White surface. As I have pointed out elsewhere, a higher gain screen may be a good way to offset the lumen shortage caused by 3D techniques. Note, this is a 3D single chip DLP projector. It's not going to be significantly affected (at all?) in brightness by the different levels of polarization "retention" of different screens. With LCoS projectors using active shutter classes, different screens with different polarization retention, will appear different in brightness when viewing 3D content. This is due to single chip DLP's not utilizing polarization as part of their engine design. LCoS projectors do use polarization, so different screens with the same gain can provide different 3D brightness.
Sharp XV-Z17000 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV Sports
Good brightness, and a nice sharp image make this Sharp XV-Z17000 home theater projector reaonably bright for 2D sports viewing.
For 3D viewing, however, brightness drops way down, so the end result is you watch sports like you would movies - in a fully darkened room, (or on a very small screen).
There are enough lumens to handle larger screens, if you don't mind keeping the room lights extremely low or off. Brightness isn't much below the Epson UB, which I often used to watch sports on my old 128" Stewart Firehawk G3 screen.