Vivitek H1080FD Projector - Image Quality
The Vivitek H1080FD images below are all from either Blu-ray or HDTV, with the exception of Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). Note: By the time these Vivitek H1080FD projector images get to your eyeball, through digital camera, software, browsers, and monitor, there is definitely color shifting, saturation differences, etc. The images are to support the commentary, but keep in mind the limitations when trying to compare images from the H1080FD with other home theater projectors. None are faithful reproductions of the colors that you see, when projecting on a screen.
Remember also, that the projectors themselves look far better than what you see in these photos. Intentionally overexposed images to show shadow detail and black level performance, on the other hand, are very good at showing differences between the Vivitek H1080FD and other home theater projectors.
12/15/09 - Art Feierman
H1080FD Out of the Box Picture Quality
The out of the box color is pretty good, which is a very good thing, since the Vivtek lacks the tradtional R,G,B brightness and contrast controls for doing a grayscale balance. (There is a color management system, however.)
Of note, the projector's brightest mode, aptly named Bright mode exhibits a bit too much green. This is common because it will help cut through ambient light.
Then, a good deal less bright is Normal mode, which has better color. Movie is the best mode, for our discussion purposes. Overall, very watchable in all three modes.
The image below (diigital image from the DVE-HD test disk) with the Vivitek H1080FD projector was taken post calibration:
Vivitek H1080FD Projector - Flesh Tones
Skin tones are very good. There is a very slight, almost paleness to faces like Gandalf's below, due to the touch less red than there should be. When viewing, the projector doesn't really feel like it's a little thin on red, as the image has a good bit of contrast, and a lot of punch.
Above, Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings, Below Arwen, same movie.
Two from Aeon Flux:
Men In Black:
From the DVE-HD calibration disc (digital source material, not film):
and finally one from Quantum of Solace (Bond)
OK, sufficiently impressed? I spent a lot of time watching movies and sports on the Vivitek H1080FD, and found the picture pleasing, overall, with my only serious complaint being the black level performance, which we'll tackle next.
H1080FD Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Black Level Performance:
Ahh, we come to the Achilles heel of the H1080FD projector. The blacks are just not that black. Even the Optoma HD20, the other $999 projector, does visibly (though not greatly), better. I can do a decent job on very dark scenes, but never a great one. Still on scenes that are primarily dark but with some bright spots, such as the night cityscape below, the projector looks pretty darn good.
Immediately below: From The Dark Knight:
The pair of photos below, have the Vivitek H1080FD projector first, and the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB (best blacks under $3500 street price) below it. This is about as big a difference as you will find, yet, you can see that the H1080FD can handle a nice dark scene with some bright areas, rather decently.
Here's three: H1080FD first, Optoma HD20 second, Epson third - this is an intentionally well overexposed image, from Space Cowboys. Here you can see the significant difference between the Vivitek or the Optoma, compared to the Epson, (but do you have an extra $1500?:
First image is a placeholder. Image coming.
OK back to our collection of comparative images:
The next image is "our" Starship image from The Fifth Element.
Same image, overexposed, and with letterbox to better see black level performance, which even without overexposing significantly, you can now see the "gray" of the letterbox area:
Epson Home Cinema 8100:
Finally, the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB:
Consider two additional (digital) images which are good ones for observing black levels.
Shadow Detail Performance
As is the case with most projectors that don't have really dark black levels, the Vivitek H1080FD has very good shadow detail, as you can see in the assorted images below. You may not get the pop of those great blacks that more expensive ultra high contrast projectors offer, but you won't go lacking for the subtle details in those darker areas.
From LOTR: Left: H1080FD, Middle: Optoma HD20, Right: Mitsubishi HC3800:
Below our usual sequence of images of Clint Eastwood in a very dark room/scene. Look to the blinds and, in general, the upper right, for shadow detail differences between these many projectors. The first image, of course, is the Vivitek H1080FD projector. It is followed, in order by: Optoma HD20, Epson Home Cinema 8100, Mitsubishi HC3800, Sanyo PLV-Z700, Sharp XV-Z15000, Optoma HD8200, Sanyo PLV-Z3000, BenQ W6000, and Panasonic PT-AE4000.
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The H1080FD (top left) has good shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite, note though, that those areas look darker than on some others. Next to it on the first row, is the Epson Home Cinema 8100, Those images are followed by the Sharp XV-Z15000 and the PT-AE4000U (second row). The third row is the Mitsubishi HC3800 (left), and the Optoma HD20on the right.
The following images are both the same frame, from Space Cowboys. The first one is slightly overexposed, and the second one, dramatically so. Look in the brown area of the satellite on the left (and elsewhere). The H1080FD does a very good job in terms of the detail, even if the blacks are a bit weak. The H1080FD's shadow detail is very good.
Below is a heavily overexposed scene from Lord of the Rings. The overexposure lets you see all the details in the shed on the right, the structure on the left, and the plants and ground along the lower right. The H1080FD performs extremely well!
Click on left thumbnail image for the Vivitek H1080FD, Sanyo PLV-Z700 in the center, and the right for the HD20.
Our last comparison uses the night train scene (again) from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Vivitek H1080FD, second is the Optoma HD20, the third is the Mitsubishi HC3800, the fourth one is from the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB. Compare the Epson to the Vivitek. Here you'll get a good idea of the difference between an entry level projector on a really dark scene, compared to one of the better ultra-high contrast projectors.
A few more images for looking at black levels and shadow details:
H1080FD - Overall Color & Picture Quality
Bottom Line for Overall Picture Quality and Color Handling:
All considered, the H1080FD is very respectable in picture quality. That said, the direct competition, the Optoma HD20, as well as the more expensive Mitsubishi and Epson Home Cinema 8100, all have better overall picture quality. While color and shadow detail are good, black levels are not.
The big tradeoff is brightness, and those extra lumens go a long way in terms of providing an image with a lot of bang.
I tend to get a bit jaded, in that it's not easy to go from watching my usual JVC or Epson projectors, and then switching to a basic performance $999 projector.
As I write this evening, though, I've got Bourne Ultimatum running on the Vivitek, and, you know what? It looks pretty good. The picture quality won't stand up well to a close inspection from a critical eye. That said, the overall bright image not only will please those just wanting a good large image, but will wow'em with all those lumens.
We'll finish our look at comparative images of entry level 1080p projectors with the crew image from Space Cowboys. First is the Vivitek H1080FD, followed by the Optoma, then the Epson Home Cinema 8100, followed by the Sharp XV-Z15000:
A mix of additional images to show off the H1080FD:
From the DVE-HD test disc:
And here are a few assorted, additional images, some of which can be found on other recent reviews: