Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector - Image Quality
6/4/12 - Art Feierman
VPL-VW1000ES "Out of the Box" Picture Quality
From a color accuracy standpoint, this Sony is no better than its less expensive siblings, the $7K VW95ES and the $3500 HW30ES. Nor is it worse. In reality, the VPL-VW1000ES projector in its best "Out of the Box" mode looks very good, but as with the other Sony projectors, the picture is a touch cool - around 7000K instead of 6500K. Mind you, that's not bad, it's probably more accurate than most LCDTV's offer in their "best" modes. Skin tones etc., look very good, just it's just a touch strong on blues, especially in the brighter IREs. However, green is in proper balance, so color does look natural and good.
Check out our recommended settings like Brightness, Color, etc. on the Calibration page of this review.
VPL-VW1000ES Projector - Flesh Tones
Although the VW1000ES does not calibrate as perfectly as some other projectors, the end result is extremely good. The projector finishes calibration with all but the extremes (100 IRE - white), and (20 IRE - lowest gray we can measure) being about dead on. White (100 IRE) remained just a tiny bit cool (6814K) while 20 IRE has an even slighter shift toward red (6256K).
You really don't notice those shifts - the picture just looks great. I'll even mention that the slight red in the darkest areas seems to have pretty much vanished in the 150+ hours since Mike calibrated the new lamp (not unusual). I wouldn't be surprised if 20 now read closer to 6500K if we remeasured.
None of that matters, only the picture quality does, and skin tones in particular look very natural, one of those statements that I tend to keep repeating when describing Sony projectors.
It's somewhat "interesting" because, as someone who's been in the industry for many decades, I tend to think that Sony still, to some degree, lives on its reputation established with the Sony Trinitron picture tube and the TVs developed between the 60's and 70's. Truth is, that may still be the case, but, it's not particularly relevant to LCDTVs and projectors, The bottom line is that regardess of where Sony gets its rep, this projector has great, natural looking skin tones, and, thanks to the resolution, more detail in those close ups of faces, such as found in some of these images.
Above and below, from Lord of the Rings: Gandalf, Arwen
Below, Lucy, from Narnia: The Dawn Treader
And, for a quick comparison, directly below the image above, of Lucy, this second one is a similar frame from the movie taken using the Sony VPL-VW95ES (our Best In Class winner this year in the $3500 - $10,000 range).
Leeloo, of course, from The Fifth Element:
Immediately below are some additional images we typically use in reviews, that should give you a good feel for overall skin tone handling:
Pippin from LOTR:
"Rhodey" in Iron Man 2:
VPL-VW1000ES Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Below, our usual Starship set of images from The 5th Element. To see how good blacks are, just note how light the letterbox area is, compared to the starship. If the letterbox area is very dim, and the starship totally overexposed, that shows more range, than if the letterbox is brighter, or the starship less overexposed. Many of these images have been converted to grayscale, so the shifts in color don't make it harder to judge them.
Note, that the VW1000ES (above) is substantially better than even their VPL-VW95ES below:
Mitsubishi HC9000D (uses Sony LCoS panels) - Similar to the VW95ES (just the image is a bit more overexposed) - both the letterbox and the starship are slightly larger.
Sharp XV-Z17000, This Sharp was the first single chip 1080p DLP projector to hit the market under $5000. Being replaced by a XV-Z30000
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 projectors up to $10,000 projectors.
Finally, an interesting shot, but not of the VW1000ES. Remember, the Sony VW1000ES has better blacks than their VW95ES. Yet, in the image below, we have the VW95ES (right) vs. the $20K SIM2 Nero 3D2 (left). The less expensive Sony easily does better blacks than the Nero. Along comes this VW1000ES, which is even better still. Neither the SIM2 nor the $28K Runco LS10d, really come close to the blacks of the Sony (nor are they 4K, and only the Nero of those two has 3D):
Shadow Detail Performance
Dark shadow detail is good, but relative to all the strengths of this Sony projector, it has to be considered one of the Sony's least impressive levels of performance. It's not hard to find other good projectors that will reveal a touch more dark shadow detail, but, as I often point out, the better the black levels, the darker the darkest shadow details are, and therefore hardest to spot. Look, I can get a touch more dark shadow detail out of a number of projectors some as inexpensive as the $2700 Epson 5010 (you'll find that image below) - for a comparison look at the line of shrubs behind the tracks, on the middle-right and far right of the image. Let's not worry about that however. As I have often stated in reviews, a slight loss of dark shadow detail is a very minor thing, compared to even a slight increase in black level performance. In other words, don't worry about it!
Our major comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Sony VPL-1000ES, followed by the 95ES. Then the Mitsubishi HC9000D, followed by the less expensive Sony HW30ES. Fifth is the Epson Home Cinema 5010, followed by the JVC RS25, and the last one is from the Runco LS-10d projector.
The "low cost" ($6999) Sony VPL-VW95ES:
Below Mitsubishi HC9000D (last year's Best In Class winner, $3500 - $10,000)
Here are images from additional projectors:
Sony VPL-VPL-HW30ES ($3699): This lower cost Sony projector is respectable on detail, but can't match the VW1000ES on blacks.
Epson's Home Cinema 5010:
Runco LS-10d (a very nice 3 chip $27K projector with very good shadow detail)
Sony VPL-VW1000ES - 4K, Overall Color & Picture Quality
This Sony just looks great. Like any really good projector, it calibrates very well. When one looks at multiple good projectors (side by side) that are all calibrated, one notices a lot of difference from one to the next, however, they should all look pretty darn good. The variation in color between several well calibrated projectors is likely closer than the variations in production and color quality from one movie or other source, to the next. For example, skin tones in X-Men First Class do not look the same as skin tones in Casino Royale, nor do either look the same as in Bourne Supremacy.
With almost any content I viewed, however, the overall picture quality in terms of color fidelity and accuracy, looked very, very, good!
How about a little 4K to start?
Now, while I normally isolate sharpness for discussion on the Performance page (and there is commentary there as well), I feel it impossible to discuss overall Picture Quality without bringing the 4K abilities, and 2K - 4K conversion into the conversation.
In our first image above - true 4K provided by Sony on that HP server I mentioned. Click of course, for the larger image. Now try this zoomed in version, starting with a much smaller portion of the scene. As you can see, this image covers perhaps less than half the width so you get a look at 4x the resolution so-to-speak:
Now let's look at an ancient pyramid, and then we'll look at some much closer looks. First image below, the full photo as projected at true 4K:
Now check out this very close up shot, and again, click for larger:
and again this is just a different part of the same exact image. I'm just zooming in closer with the camera. The resolution compared to 2K, is downright stunning:
And here's a 4K from one of the 4K trailers for Spiderman 3.
We start with most of the 4K frame, click on it for a larger look (1000 pixel wide) at a smaller section of the image.
Now here's a real closeup of this same picture of Spiderman's arm:
WOW! Real 4K, and you can really appreciate this on a large screen. Wow!
Before we get to the usual bunch of assorted photos to show the color abilities of this Sony, let's look at how the color and sharpness/resolution combine to create something really special:
Now, here's the same image shot with the JVC DLA-X70R (although a touch darker exposure):
For your consideration: Here are a wide range of screen images using the Sony VPL-VW1000ES, a number of these scenes can be found on other reviews:
A little STAR WARS (IV) anyone - Reality Creation (2K-4K upscaling)?
The bottom line on overall picture quality:
Best overall picture ever to grace my current, or previous home theater. Excellent color, superb detail, great black level performance, and respectable, though not great black level performance. Hard to expect more. This is a projector I could live with for years, especially since it's also pretty bright, and also does great 3D quality!
Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
A good 1080i NBA basketball playoff game looks great filling about 100" diagonal, with almost any decent projector. When you add real 1080p to 4K upscaling (never mind that elusive true 4K content), though, the playoff games I've been watching have been spectacular. They are just plain sharper looking - crisper, clearer - more detail resolved. In addition, the Sony's MotionFlow CFI is extremely good. Even in the high setting, little additional noise around moving objects compared to almost anything else. The Sony's "High" setting, seems cleaner than almost everyone's Medium or Low settings. Just looks clean!
Sports just have never looked better. As to all those concerts I watch - music videos most off of HDTV (i.e. the Palladia channel), some Blu-ray. Those just look really sharp - photographic. Outstanding, so I started with one of those:
The image above is impressive. Even more so, when you consider it is 1080i to start, which means when freezing the frame to take the picture, the projector shows only one of those "i" - interlaced - frames, essentially half the vertical resolution (thus some jaggies).
Below a mix of NFL images, music videos, and other images:
Bottom line for HDTV on the Sony VPL-VW1000ES Home Theater Projector
The Sony may lack the more precision sharpness of a first class single chip DLP projector, but it's right up there for good sharpness with any of the 3 chip LCoS or LCD projectors. It converges very well, and still looks very sharp on digital content. I watched a few concerts, some Smithsonian HD, plenty of sports (football mostly), and more, when it comes to 2D digital content.
How about that menu above, from DirecTV (with the game in the corner)? Click for large version and try not to drop your jaw!
For the sports images I have all my rear recessed lights turned on (7 down facing LED lights - each about 50 watt equivalent). Sports viewing is more easily bright enough in 2D, with the low ambient light on roughly a 100" screen. Actually with about 1200 lumens, we could just as easily filled my old 128" screen.
3D sports that I previously recorded, look excellent. In my dedicated theater, 3D sports were reasonably bright filling about 100" diagonal of my 1.3 gain Studiotek 130 screen, although in 3D I was happier with those rear lights turned off.
Content like the two Stephen Lowe "productions," Tahiti 3D: Ultimate Wave, and Legends of Flight, are just downright awesome in 3D. (Images above and below from "Tahiti 3D" but 2D versions)
This Sony really is so excellent that it belongs in a really good room. That said, if you've got the bucks, but have more of a media / gaming room with more ambient light in mind, don't rule this Cinema grade projector out. Within the limits of only 1200 - 1300 lumens maximum (mid-zoom), this projector can function in decent rooms that are not "cave-like". Afterall, it's almost twice as bright as many projectors. We consider 1000 lumens average for a brightest mode (mostly due to 600 - 900 maximum brightness on most projectors considered designed for theater rooms), while family room projectors, until this year, typically topped out around 1500 lumens (then 3D came along, and with it some over 2000 lumen projectors for the home. So, if you are building that great room with couches, and good controlled light, a pool table, bar, etc., this Sony likely can do at least as well in this type of room as almost any premium projector (short of some much brighter, and several times the price, 3 chip DLP projectors, such as the higher end Runco projectors - not the LS series models we get to review that are under $30K).
If you are placing the VW1000ES in a less "dedicated" room, pay attention to your choice of screens. If a siginficant amount of any ambient lighting is coming from the sides, and really good high contrast gray screen can really help. I would have loved to pair this projector in my last house - with my great room with rust colored walls, and far, far less than perfect lighting control.
Best 2D sports and HDTV I've seen, smooth CFI, 2K-4K upscaling, great color... A sports and HDTV dream machine, that really only could improve noticeably if it were, say, a lot brighter. That said 1200, calibrated lumens is nothing to consider lightly.