Sony VPL-VWPRO1 Projector Review
Image click to enlarge comparison images, and more will be added after the CEDIA show, this week. These images have the Sony VPL-PRO1 on the right, and the Epson 8700UB on the left. Note that the Epson image is smaller. Since the Epson already had a few hundred hours on its lamp (vs. about 25 hours on the Sony), and that the Sony is brighter to begin with (best modes), it was necessary to reduce the size of the Epson’s image to achieve some sort of brightness parity, even with the Sony changed to eco-mode. (Don’t worry about the color shifts, – on these long time exposures, the slightest color differences are badly amplified.)
Look closely at the two images, or rather their letterbox areas above and below. The Epson (left, letterbox – blacks – ) are much darker than the Sony which has a very visible letterbox. The Epson’s letterboxing is only really noticeable at this exposure, in the lower right corner, where this Epson shows a minute red shift (not something you would notice during viewing the same scene in real time).
On these additional two dark scenes, the slightly better blacks of the Epson do seem to result in a slightly more dynamic looking dark scene. In the image below, also note, that you can make out a touch more dark shadow detail in the furniture in the room (back center). Still, the two projectors are close.
For general black level performance examples we’ll start with my favorite, the Starship image found The Fifth Element. The first is our Sony VPL-PRO1. (Note, the PRO1 images have been converted to grayscale, so that slight color shifts (in part due to very long exposures) do not distract. Going forward we will use grayscale for several images relating to black levels and shadow detail.
Immediately below it, is the Optoma HD8200. Unfortunately, brightness varies even more making accurate comparisons of black levels a little difficult. Still, for example, the last image, the more expensive JVC RS15, obviously still has very black blacks, yet the bright areas are the most overexposed. That indicates the best black level performance. This Sony isn’t that good, and the RS15 has a similar lower cost replacement the HD250 we haven’t reviewed yet, that is about the same price as the Sony VWPRO1 – HW20a projector.
Consider two additional (digital) images which are good ones for observing black levels.
The dynamic iris, with almost all projectors (JVC excepted, as JVC manages great black levels without a dynamic iris,) of course, is key to the excellent black levels. I figure this is as good a time to comment on the iris’s impact on viewing. Below are two images from Space Cowboys, (the second image with the shuttle in it was about 2 seconds further into the movie, explaining the slight shift in the position of the stars and planet).
Notice how much brighter the background is on the second image, due to the iris opening to handle the bright lights of the space shuttle. (Both images are intentionally overexposed.) Measuring the same “black” pixels in the upper right of the letterbox, the first image had RGB measurements of R=4, G=16, B=17. In the lower and brighter image (due to the iris opening a bit), the same area measures: R=7, G=18, B=21. Average that out and you’ve got the lower image pixels about 20% brighter! That means that the blacks are 20% brighter too. And believe me, the iris in the lower picture still isn’t fully open.
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