Sony VPL-HW30ES Projector - Performance
10/5/11 - Art Feierman
It's time to consider the VPL-HW30's brightness (including full measurements), sharpness, and image noise of this Sony 3D capable VPL-HW30ES home theater projector. Also covered on this page,are the physical attributes of light leakage and audible noise of the Sony.
Sony VPL-HW30ES Brightness
This Sony VPL-HW30ES is fairly typical in brightness when compared to most other home theater projectors in its price range. Over the years, most of the over $3500, 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.
With that in mind, that makes this Sony a bit brighter (but not drastically so) than most of the LCoS and DLP projectors that it competes against. The Sony is best a projector for a home theater, or at least a room with good control of any ambient light.
With that in mind, there are also a couple of alternatives that are brighter. The old InFocus ScreenPlay 8602, as well as the new Panasonic PT-AE7000 and the Epson 5010, which both are a bit less, and the Epson 6010 which should be about the same price. We have yet to see the new Epson's and Panasonic, although as of this writing, the Panasonic and Epsons are expected to arrive over the next 3 weeks.
Lumen Output and Color Temp at 100 IRE (mid zoom):
Dynamic = 1016 @ 9608, Custom Color Temp 5 yields 1224 lumens, but more green in image
Standard = 961 @ 8343
Cinema 1 = 867 @ 6715
Cinema 2 = 787 @ 5637
Cinema 3 = 863 @ 6712
Game = 855 @ 6722
Photo = 553 @ 5545, Using Auto iris 1 increases to 775 lumens
User 1 = 863 @ 6726
User 2 = 855 @ 6736
Those numbers are all "right out of the box", without any adjustments.
The 1224 lumens represents the highest count that Mike measured, with the zoom at mid-point. Definitely heavy on green, it's probably not a mode you will prefer, unless you need every last lumen.
Post Calibration: User "best" mode = 814 lumens
That's a nice bright best mode. Note that the Sony measures brighter with the dynamic iris on, than it does when you switch the iris to manual mode. The difference is about 10% brighter in any dynamic mode.. Switch the iris to manual, leave it full open, and get 782 lumens uncalibrated in Cinema mode, or 867 with it on auto 1, or 2. After calibration, those 867 lumens drop slightly to a still most impressive for the class, 814 lumens.
The Sony 1.6:1 Zoom Has Limited Effect on Brightness
Effect of zoom on lumen output (Cinema 1 mode):
Zoom out: 914
Zoom in: 858
Must be good optical design, with less than a 7% drop in brightness going from full telephoto (back of room) to wide angle (closest to screen). Some of the 2:1 zoom lens home theater projectors can drop around 30%.
Sony VPL-HW30ES Pre-Calibration Color temp, Cinema Mode:
Color Temp over IRE Range (Best Mode, Pre calibration):
Cinema 1(best) Cinema 3
30 IRE 7018 7632
50 IRE 6779 7261
80 IRE 6796 7007 100 IRE 6715 6712
As you can see, the Cinema 1 mode was the best "right out of the box" without adjustment. It's a trifle on the cool side, just a touch thin on red. Cinema 3, was cooler still, so Mike based his D65 calibration on Cinema 1.
Mike calibrated and came up with the results below.
VPL-HW30ES Color Temp over IRE Range (Post calibration):
20 IRE 6148
30 IRE 6487
40 IRE 6550
50 IRE 6560
60 IRE 6553
70 IRE 6573
80 IRE 6568
90 IRE 6531
100 IRE 6699
Average gamma= 2.25
Now that looks much better, although there is a shift to red below 30 IRE. That may be detectable on occasion as a slight red shift in the blacks/near black. Mostly you wouldn't notice unless you freeze a black image. Even on dark scenes from The Dark Knight, Hunt for Red October, and Casino Royale, I never noticed the shift under normal viewing.
Mike's Notes: Color is quite accurate on Normal color space. No need for CMS with that setting. Any other setting has oversaturated greens, but might be more useful for 3D. Cinema 2 is too red and Photo is about the same. Game is pretty much the same as Cinema 3, which is pretty good.
Quick cal of User 2 w/Custom 5 color temp reduces the green, but only results in 39 more lumens than default Dynamic setting and looks similar to it.
All of the many preset modes (10) seem available for 3D viewing. When you switch to a 3D source, it might say "Cinema 1 (3D)" or "Dynamic (3D)"...
Below, the first image shows our calibrated "best" mode, with its 814 measured lumens and mid-zoom, and below it, the cooler, and greener "brightest mode" at 1065 lumens. (The exposures were balanced to try to get similar brightness.)
Sony VPL-HW30ES Sharpness
Same old - same old. Sony's been feeding us a great many projectors over the years, going back to the VPL-VW50, that have used this lens
Overall, the Sony provides a very sharp image. How well it converges is a final factor, that will affect the bottom line. The HW30ES I'm working with did need the red to be shifted to the left, and up, a pixel. That improved the overall sharpness, but only slightly, as expected. (Red was almost a pixel off horizontaly, before correction.
Even before adjustment, you could not see any pixel shift from normal seating distances, unless you like squinting at white credits on a black background.
Top left: Sony VPL-HW30ES, Top Center - Viewsonic Pro8200, Top Right Top right - Runco LS-5.
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AE4000, center: Epson Home Cinema 8350, Right: JVC DLA-HD250
Sony VPL-HW30ES: Bottom Line Sharpness
Bottom line: This Sony converged nicely with its pixel controls, creating what is likely a slightly sharper image than the average LCoS projector. You still can't beat a single chip DLP projector combined with good optics. That said, the last 1080p non-single chip DLP projector we did a full review of, that really seemed visibly sharper, was probably the just discontinued, $10,000 JVC RS60 with its hand picked optics!
In other words, no problem here. Sharpness is about as good as one can expect from an under $5000 projector, with the caveat being that a well done single chip DLP should be able to do a touch better - look just a bit crisper!
This Sony projector, like its predecessors (and even more expensive siblings. Likes to leak a very small amount of light through the lens. Some of that lands outside of the image area.
The amount is minimal. If you really want to spot that light leakage, you are probably going to have to pause the image on a black frame. Even so, you aren't likely to be able to spot it, unless your room has a front wall that's fairly light, to show off that faint light when the room is fully dark.
There is no leakage out the vents, or, perhaps I should say, absolutely no noticeable amount escapes the vents.
All considered, the Sony HW30 does great when it comes to light leakage.
I mentioned 3D related noise issues if you set the projector and glasses for the brightest image based on the black frames and glasses opening times. Once again, I recommend the 2 setting, or if you can live with the even lower brightness, the minimum - 1. At the maximum of 4, you get max brightness, but a scene with a distant crowd has that crowd looking sort of over contrasty, not natural.
Note, I've watched many hours of 3D pretty much continuously, without any fatigue, although, I have yet to be fatigued by any newer 3D projector.
2D noise issues are what I expect of a modern quality home projector - none worth discussing. The art of image processing took lots of strides over the last 6-8 years. Today, just about every projector is reasonably clean on image noises, except, perhaps some entry level and crossover projectors.
The Sony did very well on a quick spin through my Silicon Optix test disk.
Sony claims 22db in eco-mode, and that, folks is very quiet. The quietest home theater projectors seem to get down to about 15 or 16 db, but 22 is lower than the vast majority.
At full power, I don't believe Sony publishes a spec, but don't worry about it, this Sony is not only pretty quiet at full power, but the fan pitch is low.
No matter, if I had to guess at a full power audible noise level, I'd probably have to go with 25-27 db, and that's still quiet compared to most projectors at full power.
The Sony is quiet enough that most noise adverse buyers probably won't have any problem with full power, and definitely not eco-mode!