Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector - Image Quality
All of the Sony VPL-VW95ES screen image photos below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV source material.
In truth, virtually all projectors, including this VPL-VW95ES, will look a lot better projecting on to your screen, than in these pictures. Although the images can reveal some things and support some points I make, they are mostly for "entertainment" for the following reasons:
These Sony VPL-VW95ES projector images come to you, through a Canon 60D dSLR camera, software, browsers, your computer's graphic card, and even your monitor, all with their own color and contrast inaccuracies. There are color shifts, saturation differences, etc. Take them all, "with a grain (no, make that a kilo) of salt".
For this series of photos, I found that the VPL-VW95ES images end up with a slight yellowish pink? caste. Last year I reported yellow-orange. The real, projected image definitely looks more natural.
The images of the Sony VPL-VW95ES are provided to support the commentary, but keep in mind all these major limitations when trying to compare images from the VPL-VW95ES with other home theater projectors, when it comes to color accuracy.
12/10/11 - Art Feierman
VPL-VW95ES "Out of the Box" Picture Quality
There are a lot of different preset modes, but the ones closest to an ideal 6500K are all up around 7000K when measuring white. As such, the image on modes like Cinema 3 which we based "best" mode on, are a touch cool. All considered, the general color and skin tones in several modes are really good for right out of the box.
One thing of note, is the Dynamic mode. Interestingly, the default is extremely cool - over 10,000K. Yet by using Color Temp 5 instead of its default setting, it not only improves the "brightest" mode's color, but it also yields an extra 10% brightness.
Check out our recommended settings for items like Brightness, Color, etc. on the Calibration page of this review.
VPL-VW95ES Projector - Flesh Tones
The flesh tones of the VW95ES projector are one of its great strengths. Perhaps it's the accurate color gamut Mike has pointed out, but the Sony does really great on skin tones on bright scenes. Running the Sony side by side against the lower cost Epson Home Cinema 5010, resulted in the Epson looking really good, but the Sony was just more natural.
On the other hand, in darker scenes, the skin tones are picking up a touch too much red, which I believe ties to the redish coloring of the Sony's idea of pure black. As described elsewhere, this seems to be a background problem, and those tend to be gone by the time full production versions are hitting the street. Note, most projectors have some slight shift in their backgrounds from neutral black, including, sometimes, shifting from one color to another - such as from red to blue - going from left to right of a screen. Thus, it's not unusual, but the significant amount here, will likely, mostly or completely, go away. We shall see.
Above and below, from Lord of the Rings: Gandalf, Arwen
Below, Lucy, from Narnia: The Dawn Treader
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:
"Rhodey" in Iron Man 2:
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.
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):
Sharp XV-Z17000, This Sharp was the first single chip 1080p DLP projector to hit the market under $5000.
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:
Shadow Detail Performance
Dark shadow detail is very good, but not a particular strength. We realize it's harder to spot the darkest details when a projector has excellent blacks (as does this VW95ES). But even with the brightness pushed up one past ideal, the Sony still reveals a touch less than the best.
The short version is - a touch more deep detail would be lovely, but we're really quibbling here. It's going to take one truly strange dark scene for this Sony not to handle it really well.
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-95ES, followed by last year's 90Es. 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.
Last year's VW90ES:
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 VW95ES on blacks.
Epson's Home Cinema 5010:
Runco LS-10d (a very nice 3 chip $27K projector with very good shadow detail)
Sony VPL-VW95ES - Overall Color & Picture Quality
In almost all ways, the Sony VW95 looks great. But there are some interesting things going on worth noting, since this is a pre-production projector.
When the Sony is switching sources or at other times with no signal, the background "black" of the Sony definitely takes on a very deep red caste. This only seems to manifest into a visible amount on some very dark scenes. Viewing the Ministry of Magic in Potter's Order of the Phoenix, the red manifested by bringing out a lot more detail in the floor. In the dark night train scene, that touch of deep red does add "color" and makes one more aware that the scene seems to be shot in the daytime.
Is this good? No, I don't think so. But then, background color issues are fairly common on pre-production and engineering sample projectors. At any rate, in brighter scenes, skin tones look great, etc. This is something I would expect to be gone in full production projectors, and I hope to get a close look at a newer one at CES, to confirm.
The side-by-side image below shows the on the left, and the
That extra red down there shouldn't be, but two things keep me from being concerned. First, it's slight. You probably wouldn't notice unless looking for such things, and perhaps more to the point, I don't expect to see the deep red on those full production projectors.
Here are a couple of shots comparing the Sony (right) with the $20K SIM2 Nero 3D-2 projector, on the left.
In the comparison below, the Sony easily did better on black performance than the SIM2. The SIM2 seemed to do a typically good job for A DLP projector with dynamic iris, but this Sony is just excellent.
Below, on the left is the Epson 8700UB - a projector with the best black levels of pretty much everything under $5000. If a projector can best the Epson, its black level performance is excellent. In side by side viewing, the blacks of the Sony are definitely better than the Epson! Below, note how much brighter the whites and bright areas are, compared to the two projector's similar blacks. In this case, the blacks look a touch brighter on the Sony, but the image is far brighter overall. An impressive "win" for the VW95ES.
For your consideration: Here are additional images, some of which can be found on other reviews:
The bottom line on overall picture quality:
Pre-calibration, very good. Post calibration, great. Other than the tendency of oversaturated colors, which reducing the color saturation tends to address, there's really nothing to complain about. I've got over 50 hours now, logged, watching the VPL-VW95ES in 2D, and I've enjoyed all of it. Oh my old JVC can do better blacks still, but at the moment, my JVC is underpowered if I want to watch a movie filling my full 124" diagonal 2.35:1 screen, whereas the VPL-VW95ES handles it no problem, in terms of brightness!
Sony VPL-VW95ES Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
Other than having twice as many lumens (2000 thousand instead of the 1005 maximum we measured), I'm perfectly happy with sports on the VPL-VW95ES. Colors are dynamic, the CFI works nicely and smooths motion. Shadow detail and black levels really aren't an issue for sports as sports is rarely dark. The abilities of the VPL-VW95ES come into play for other HDTV content, be it concert videos (I'm a huge fan), or travel and education type material from the likes of Discovery HD, History HD, SyFiHD, Nat Geo HD, and so on.
Below a mix of NFL images, music videos, and other images:
Bottom line for HDTV on the Sony VPL-VW95ES 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.
In my theater, I can have all my rear recessed lights on (7 down facing LED lights - each about 50 watt equivalent), and even sports viewing is more than bright enough in 2D, with the low ambient light. While there isn't a huge difference in brightness between the Sony's various modes, filling a 100" screen (16:9) even with the ambient light in any of the modes, works great in my theater. I never really needed to go to "brightest mode" except for 3D, or if I chose to partially open a couple of my shutters to let in a little sun light.
Which reminds me! Sports in 3D can be really great. I've recorded a couple of college football games, boxing (not my thing, normally), X-games, and so on. Very cool in 3D on the Sony. There sure isn't a whole lot of content yet, but more is coming... including for the second year, the BCS championship game.
Content like the two Stephen Lowe "productions" Tahiti 3D: Ultimate Wave, and Legends of Flight, are just downright awesome in 3D. (Image above from "Flight), image below from a program on Food trucks.
This works for me. Mind you, if I was trying to use this projector in a room with off white walls and ceilings, I'd be running out of lumens much faster, but in the theater type situation the VPL-VW95ES is normally heading into, sports and HDTV should be just fine, even with lots of company and a fair amount of controlled ambient light.
If you are placing the VW95ES in a lighter room, pay particular 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.