Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector Review

VPL-VW95ES Black Levels & Shadow Detail

There are a whole bunch of projectors over $3500 that have excellent black level performance. In fact, great black level performance is almost standard on projectors above that price (and a few, below it). Our take, is by the time you get black levels this good (are they the “holy grail”?), most folks are very satisfied (though who will refuse blacker blacks, if all else is equal)?

That said, the VPL-VW95ES is in good company. Almost all of the projectors I consider in this price and black level handling range, use a dynamic iris, to achieve best blacks on dark scenes. The only exceptions of the projectors we consider primary competition, are the three JVCs, with the two higher end ones offering a bit better blacks than any of the other projectors. The field I’m addressing includes this Mitsubishi, the JVCs, The two Sonys currently shipping, an Optoma, a Runco, the JVCs, and the Sharp.

Of all of those mentioned, only the two more expensive JVCs are likely able to produce blacks that are visibly darker than the VPL-VW95ES.

OK, let’s look at some screen images, practical for considering black levels. And, as usual, we’ve provided the same image from a number of other projectors.

If two images have the starships equally bright, but one has blacker blacks in the letterbox, that projector is the one with the better blacks. Alternately, and logically, (since the exposures do vary a bit): If two projectors have letterboxes equally black/gray, then the one with the brighter starship, has the better blacks. It’s that easy. The hard part are the brightness variations from one image to the next. Even a 1/3 stop difference in exposure is rather significant.

Black Levels Comparison

Sony VPL-VW95ES
Sony VPL-VW90ES
Mitsubishi HC9000D
JVC DLA-RS25
Sharp XV-Z17000
Epson Home Cinema 5010
JVC RS15

Here we again start with the VPL-VW95ES, and the Sony VPL-VW90ES. Note: We will be converting most recent “starship” images to grayscale to remove the distraction of varying colors. Mitsubishi HC9000D (uses Sony LCoS panels): JVC DLA-RS25: Sharp XV-Z17000, This Sharp was the first single chip 1080p DLP projector to hit the market under $5000. Epson Home Cinema 5010: Epson has reigned for years as the “black level champ” in the under $3500 price range, and can compete in blacks, rather easily with most over $5000 projectors. That said, it can’t quite compete with the Sony VPL-VW95ES, which is simply better at doing blacker blacks. It would seem an improvement over the 90ES last year, as I don’t recall it being quite so remarkable at handling black levels. JVC RS15: (Has been replaced, officially, by the RS45 (not reviewed) Finally, a little side by side imagery. On the right is the VPL-VW95ES, on the left is the $20K SIM2 Nero 2:

Click Image to Enlarge

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