Sony VPL-VW90ES Projector Review

VPL-VW90ES Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Sony rolled out a new improved contrast spec – one of 150,000:1, so I expected at least a slight improvement in black level performance. I think I received just that, and maybe a little extra. Like the VW85 before it, the VW90ES projector is a very good, ultra high-contrast projector. Respectable native contrast and a very good, smooth dynamic iris should serve us well. Looks like another year where JVC’s best – this year the JVC DLA-RS50 and RS60 (also both sporting 3D), will still be superior at blacks, and accomplish that without a dynamic iris.

Even with all that in mind, and with the idea that we will always appreciate blacker blacks, I have no problem with the Sony’s blacks. They have achieved a sufficiently fine level which now has me more interested in other areas of performance.

Immediately below, from Space Cowboys, and below it, same image, from Sony’s lower cost VPL-VWPro1:

VPL-VWPro1
VPL-VWPro1

Time for a lot of comparative images – our favorite starship image from The Fifth Element.

The first image below is just slightly overexposed, and below it, one even more so. The goal here is to compare the blacks of different projectors, and if they are about the same, and one’s starship is more overexposed than the other, then the more overexposed one has the blacker blacks. Got that?

Note, don’t worry about color differences. These are all time exposures, and the color tend to be less accurate (understatement).

VPL-VWPro1
JVC DLA-RS25:
Sharp XV-Z17000
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB:
JVC RS15:

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).

The idea here was to show how the iris opened for the second image, lightening up everything. Unfortuantely, this time, I was using a Panasonic Blu-ray player, and as I would go to freeze the frame, it would not let the iris finish stopping down, or opening. I later switched back to a PS3 for that reason. Consider these just two space images, this time.

Same exposures, above. The stars are so much brighter in the first image,

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