Viewsonic Pro9000 Projector Picture Quality
Below, we discuss the picture quality of the Viewsonic Pro9000 home theater projector, in terms of "out of the box" color, shadow detail, and black level performance. From that we assess overall Picture Quality (which in this case is truly impressive). Also found on this page of the Pro9000 projector review, is a section on HDTV and Sports viewing. This page also includes a variety of images from movies, HDTV, Sports, for you to view, to get a better feel for this Viewsonic projector.
10/15/12 - Art Feierman
Viewsonic Pro9000 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Viewsonic provides a lot of preset modes. None of them, however look especially excellent. A couple are pretty good. I found Sports in particular to have some good pop and my football games looked pretty good!
We reviewed this projector, with a pre-production sample provided. Due to color handling issues we asked for a full production projector once they started shipping to see if the projector would calibrate better. We received a full production Pro9000 projector after this review was written. While it addressed a couple of previously spotted problems we would call flaws typical of pre-production projectors, we found the full production version still weak when it came to calibrated color.
This projector has several things going for it, but it still cannot deliver the quality color accuracy one would expect from any projector in its price range. For a respectable "brightest mode" you'll have to drop down from Bright mode to one of the others, giving up a good third of maximum brightness. That would seem to be the trade-off relative to the very high cost of providing an LED/Laser light source.
Overall, there are a number of watchable modes, but, greatness does not exist in this pre-production version. Bright scenes - overall, tend to have a yellow green shift while red is more prevelent in dark scenes. The projector does look better on darker scenes than really bright ones. If I had to pick just one mode to use, without adjustment, it would be Sports.
Gamma settings have a big effect on that, and, also seem to impact color balance (surprising, but it is, what it is.)
Some gamma modes give you apparent better looking colors and more pop than others. Below are a series of photos demonstrating the impact of six of the eight Gamma choices, the exposures are the same for all:
Gamma 6 (last one down) seems, for example to have more red content. Note that in the orange cooler on the sidelines, but perhaps better, notice the grays of the menus, definitely more red in the gray on # 6.
Before we go further, here's our usual warning about the accuracy of the photos we present to you:
About these photo images: The images in this review can give you a very good idea of the Pro9000 picture quality, but with some reservations. First, as with all other projectors, when you get this Viewsonic projector home, it is going to look a lot better than the images. In general though, there is noticeable shifting of color and dynamics as the process goes from the projected image, to my 60D Canon dSLR, though Photoshop (for resizing, cropping), massive jpg compressing them for web, your graphics card in your computer, and your display's own lower contrast, and color shifts.
It's almost amazing the pictures look this good, all considered. Nonetheless, they do provide you with a very good representation, just not a dead on one suitable for comparing the exact color balance of different projectors.
Please take these images with a "grain of salt" (or maybe a kilo?) On the bright side, images designed to show black levels and shadow detail can be effective when compared to other projector's images.
With the Viewsonic Pro9000, the images as seen on my MacBook Pro, tend to show stronger yellows and greens than were on the screen. Such shifts are not unusual in our images, and we tend to identify them. Even with that, however, the projector's image leans the same way, which is why a few of these images look way too yellow green.
With that in mind, here is a set of images showing the different Color Temp settings:
Note Color Temp low above, is almost devoid of Red. This is one of the problems we encountered on this pre-production projector, that should be corrected.
Above, the Color Temp's User setting at default.
We discuss getting the best, brightest mode results, on the Performance page.
Viewsonic Pro9000 Projector - Flesh Tones
At times skin tones do look good, but more often than not, unless the image is dark, a yellow green shift is visible. In the Bond, and Lord of the Rings images below, I used User 1 as set up by Mike - by the book. I had better luck tweaking Sports mode (which is less yellow), for most of the other images. Remember we're not talking about been as far off as any number of projectors' when in dynamic modes (or whatever they call their brightest mode), but still not as good as most other projectors. Again, we await another, newer version.
Above and below, as always - Gandalf and Arwen, from Lord of the Rings, on Blu-ray to start off our skin tones images..
Below are our three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first - full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, filtered sunlight in the third image. And as one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond - Daniel Craig - to have different looking skin tones.
We plan to reshoot these Bond images with the new projector when it arrives, and plan to leave both sets up, so you can see what kind of improvement can be accomplished in just a few weeks.
More images we like for considering skin tones:
Above: Leeloo from The Fifth Element. Her skin tones looked excellent, definitely better than the image above would have you believe, (and it's not bad), throughout. Below: Morgan Freeman in RED.
Below - a nice dark scene of Oxford, from X-Men: First Class. Respectable shadow detail found here:
Color in the image below could be a bit better. Of course, not an ideal scene, Scarlett Johanssen is bathed in the room's fluorescents.
Above, Scarlett Johannsen, from Iron Man 2.
Viewsonic Pro9000 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Pro9000 Black Levels
No real surprises here. The Pro 9000 combines a standard DLP chip with a dynamic iris, for improving black level performance, as do most DLP home theater projectors.
Overall, black level performance is fairly typical for most under $2500 DLP projectors. Compared to 3LCD projectors, there's a price gap, due to the rather limited number of 3LCD projectors. As such, those under $1800 are roughly comparable to this Viewsonic projector. Then, over $2500, the 3LCD projectors will mostly be visibly superior in terms of black levels. There really aren't any LCoS projectors down under $2500 unless you consider closeouts, such as Sony's HW30ES, which should prove to be slightly better on blacks.
I don't consider this Pro 9000 to quite make it to being "ultra-high-contrast," but all considered the blacks are respectable, but definitely not up to the Panasonic PT-AE8000, Epson 5010, Sony HW50ES Consider them better than the DLP Mitsubishi HC4000, and close to the Optoma HD33, or the LCD Epson HC 3020 and HC3020e.
Below, the Viewsonic Pro9000 and other projectors, with most photos converted to grayscale. For comparing: If two projectors have the starship equally overexposed, then the one with the darker letterbox, is the one that has the blacker blacks. You might also notice that in the starfield, comparing the letterbox is easier, as differences in gamma have less affect. Looking at the pause bar (bottom left) gives another indication of how overexposed each image is.
Sony VPL-HW50ES projector below - one of our new favorites, with excellent blacks for the price:
The recently discontinued Sony VPL-HW30ES
Optoma HD8300 A higher priced single chip DLP projector:
Epson Home Cinema 5010 ($2699) the sub $5000 black level champ from this past year:
Optoma HD33 (lower cost, $1499 3D capable projector):
JVC DLA-RS45: This JVC is around $3500.
Viewsonic VPL-VW95ES ($5999):
Viewsonic Pro9000 Shadow Detail Performance
Shadow detail on this pre-production projector - after applying Mike's recommendations for Brightness and Contrast, is about average.
I notice that the amount of dark shadow detail you will be able to make out will also depend a good deal on which of the many gamma settings you choose. With some, shadow detail isn't good at all, others are far better.
The standard "Bond" night train image does a great job for checking out shadow detail as well. This too is a very dark scene overall. Look to the shrubs on the right, especially behind the tracks, and also look for shadow detail in the wood behind them. Click, as usual, for a much larger image.
Viewsonic VPL-HW50ES: This projector below reveals more detail in the shrubs and the dark areas of woods on the right of the image. Note also, the much better black level performance of the Sony. The Sony is a more expensive projector - a significantly more expensive one, once you figure in the long term savings of a LED/laser light engine.
Optoma HD8300: A higher priced DLP projector- better blacks, but comparable shadow detail.
Below - the $1499 Optoma HD33 for comparison. (similar dark shadow detail, plus the blacks are definitely better than the Pro 9000.)
Next, the Epson Home Cinema 5010. Note the improved dark shadow detail in the shrubs on the right, and the trees on the right, that the Epson offers. We'll be reviewing this Epson's replacement, the Home Cinema 5020, within weeks of this review.
This image below should have been a bit more overexposed yet still reveals a lot of dark shadow detail.
Mitsubishi HC4000 - one of our favorite lower cost projectors (under $1500): This is probably the closest overall, in terms of the combination of shadow detail and blacks. This image below, though is not near as overexposed as the Viewsonic's.
Sharp XV-Z30000 - a DLP projector with fairly similar street pricing, but 3D capable, similar shadow detail, but better blacks
Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: Pro9000 Projector - Bottom Line
Shadow detail is acceptable. Black levels definitely could be a lot better for a projector likely to sell for just below $3000, but then, as pointed out above, once you "adjust" for the cost of the light source, this really has to be considered an under $2000 projector.
Viewsonic Pro9000 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
I will save this area for comments after we receive the full production projector and run it through its paces. For now, let's say that the Pro9000 is definitely watchable, but can be much improved.
A mix of additional images to demonstrate the Viewsonic Pro9000.
Sports images taken with intentional ambient light in the room.
Viewsonic Pro9000 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
Most sports photos for this section were taken with back lighting on, and the rear window shutters partially open. Above, the shuttered window to the right has part of the glass blacked out, and the shutters are partially closed. (The rooms down facing rear lights are on.) You can see that plenty of light is still getting through to hit (primarily) the right side of the screen (letterbox area is nicely "lit"). There is enough ambient light to definitely wash out the sports images a visible amount, but still leave a really watchable image.
The non-football, and non-Olympics HDTV images were taken with the rear lights off, and the shutters closed down almost all the way, leaking far less light.
In my theater, sports viewing with controlled ambient light looked really good. The Sports mode has lots of pop to it, and less yellow/green than most other modes, especially when combined with the right gamma mode, and decent lighting control.
This particular football image was taken with the lights off shutters almost closed (same as the non-sports images). Note how much better it looks than some of the other football photos, thanks to less ambient light present.
As I have said, there are times that the Pro9000 can look really good on skin tones. Not bad!
Viewsonic Pro9000 Projector: Bottom Line on HDTV and Sports
This will be added to after we've looked at a final production Pro 9000 projector. Let's just say that right now Sports mode combined with a complementary gamma, will provide very good results, within the limit of being less than 800 lumens. In my theater, friends were perfectly happy while we sat around watching football all Sunday, while rooting for our fav teams - and more importantly? - our fantasy football players!