Sony VPL-HW50ES Home Theater Projector Review

Let’s look at some VPL-HW50 numbers, including brightness, pre, and post calibration.  This section also considers sharpness, light leakage, image noise and audible noise levels.

Sony VPL-HW50ES Brightness

Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom)
Reference 1044 @ 7369
TV 1054 @ 7356
Cinema Film 1 1047 @ 7360
Cinema Film 2 773 @ 6112
User 1054 @ 7357
Game 1281 @ 7815
Photo  794 @ 6121
Bright Cinema 1132 @ 8477
Bright TV 1131 @ 8480

This Sony VPL-HW50ES is fairly typical in brightness when compared to most other home theater projectors in its price range. Over the years, most of the over $2500, but under $10,000 projectors we’ve measured, have had “best mode” brightness in the 500 to 700 lumen range, and “brightest” is typically between 800 and 1100 lumens.

Thanks to 3D, we’re seeing a number of projectors sporting extra 2D lumens these days.  This is particulary true of the HW50 projector.

While it’s still not a “light cannon” if you need tons of lumens and can sacrifice some color accuracy (a “brightest” mode), this Sony, calibrated is a good deal brighter than most home theater projectors.  That makes it ideal for rooms with good light control, such as theaters, caves, and many media rooms.

Those numbers are all “right out of the box”, without any adjustments.  The two key brightest modes, Bright Cinema and Bright TV both topped 1100 lumens.  That’s still brighter than your average home theater projector in “brightest mode”.

1281 lumens represents the highest that Mike measured (Game mode), and that with the zoom at mid-point. Not your first choice in modes, you’ll probably stick with the almost as bright calibrated mode, or the Bright TV or Bright Cinema.

Post Calibration: User "best" mode = 992 lumens

Effect of zoom on lumen output (Bright mode)
Zoom out 1109
Mid-zoom 10451044
Zoom in 997

Right off the bat, that’s a good deal brighter than the HW50′s little brother, the HW30ES, which produced 814 lumens – that makes the HW50ES projector 22% brighter.

Essentially you have 1000 calibrated lumens.  Have fun.  You can easily fill an extremely large screen for 2D viewing. 150″ diagonal is very doable if that’s your thing.  I like my screens in the 120+” diagonal range it seems.  This projector has no problem producing a bright calibrated image, on my 124″ diagonal 2.35:1 screen in 2D - nice and bright!  If I’m watching a 16:9 movie, which works out to bout 98″ diagonal, I’ve even switched the lamp into low power mode a few times.

The optics show minimal drop off in brightness as you place the projector more telephoto (further back).  Given, this is a 1.6:1 zoom, a drop of only 10% is impressive. Drop off can be an issue.  On some of those 2:1 and 2.1:1 zooms out there, those projectors can drop almost 40% by the time you are at full telephoto, for rear shelf placement.

VPL-HW50 Projector Low Lamp Mode

Switching to Low lamp should cause the same percentage drop, regardless of which mode you are viewing.

Mike randomly picked Reference mode to compare the two settings.  Lumens dropped from 1044 to 657 lumens.  That’s a hefty drop of  37%.  Most projectors drop between 33% and 20%.  The big drop here, is expecially beneficial since the projector is so bright calibrated, that it’s technically too bright for some smaller screens unless you go with screen gains below 1.0.   Nice to have only about 650 lumens if you really don’t need more.  That, BTW, the Sony’s low power mode will give you a very bright 100″ diagonal image, and is technically bright enough for about a 125″ diagonal screen.  Sweet!

full power
Low Power

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