Projector Reviews

BenQ HT5550 Projector Review- Calibration Settings

BenQ HT5550 4K UHD Projector Review: Calibration Presets Notes, Best Mode Calibration For 1080P, Best Mode Calibration for 4K/HDR, Brightest Mode Calibration for 4K/HDR.

BenQ HT5550 Calibration Notes

Note: The projector had over 24 Hours on the lamp before I calibrated it and took the light measurements. A brand-new bulb will most likely have slightly higher measured lumens.

The HT5550 has 6 picture modes (Bright, Vivid TV, Cinema (Rec.709), D. Cinema, User and HDR10 which is a hidden mode that is used when you feed the projector HDR content. I spent most of my time with Cinema (Rec.709) and HDR10. The HT5550 also includes the ability to create and lock ISF Day & Night modes. All of these modes have the same controls, what sets them apart is how these controls are preset (note exception below). They all offer 4 color temperature options (normal, cool, warm, native bulb), 2-point grayscale adjustments, gamma presets 1.6 – 2.6 & BenQ which applies an ‘S’ curve to the gamma and full CMS (color management system). Exception: D. Cinema (D stands for dark) employs the wide color gamut filter and it cannot be defeated. This is why you see a lower lumen output.

Best Mode Calibration for 1080p and REC.709 – Cinema Mode

Cinema Mode Post-Calibration RGB Balance / Grayscale Tracking (target D65)
Cinema Mode Post-Calibration RGB Balance / Grayscale Tracking (target D65)

I preformed my Best Mode (1080p) calibration using Cinema mode as a starting point. Brilliant color is off by default in Cinema mode and I left it off for my calibration. The default color temp was set to normal. I usually set it to warm as its slightly closer to D65 but with the HT5550 it is locked on normal.

Sharpness was defaulted to 8, I left it at 8. pixel enhancer 4K was set to 3 I also left it there. Motion enhancer was set to low, I turned it off. I kept noise reduction to off and dynamic iris on. With the contrast set to its default of 50 caused some slight clipping at around 232. Lowering contrast did not improve things so I kept it at 50.

Cinema out of the box performed decently but it did show 2 – 4 DeltaE between 10 – 100 IRE, with its error increasing the brighter the image got. Remember we want to be below 3 and I always strive to hit 1 or less if the projector is capable. The average color temp was in the 6850K range, a little cooler than our target of 6500K (D65). After calibration, I was very pleased to hit 1.5 or less DeltaE across the entire IRE range.

Default gamma was set to 2.2 but for a dark room I shoot for a 2.4. The lower IRE range did measure a bit brighter than it should from about 50IRE down. You will also notice that there is a trend downward (brighter) from 20-10IRE on my gamma chart that is something you can’t really fix. It’s basically what you have to live with when dealing with DLP tech, lighter blacks. Post calibration gamma was very good, measuring a 2.37 average. The lower end was still brighter than it should be but better that it was pre calibration.

Overall there were no real surprises with my Best Mode (1080p) calibration. All of the controls work as there supposed to and yielded great results with pleasing, natural colors and skin tones.

Cinema Mode Post-Calibration Gamma Log 2.37 Average Gamma (target 2.40)
Cinema Mode Post-Calibration Gamma Log 2.37 Average Gamma (target 2.40)

IRE Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
10 IRE 6205K 6180K
20 IRE 6498K 6435K
30 IRE 6815K 6401K
40 IRE 6816K 6428K
50 IRE 6864K 6434K
60 IRE 6900K 6536K
70 IRE 6908K 6471K
80 IRE 6876K 6538K
90 IRE 6925K 6505K
100 IRE 7014K 6535K

Measurements taken at Mid Placement with Normal LampAverage Gamma Pre-Calibration: 2.25Average Gamma Post-Calibration: [email protected] Lumens

Type Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
Contrast 50 50
Brightness 50 50
Color 50 50
Tint 50 50
Sharpness 8 8
Brilliant Color Off Off
Gamma 2.4 2.4
Type Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
Color Temp Normal Warm
Color Enhancer 0 0
Flesh Tone 0 0
Pixel Enhancer 4K 3 3
Motion Enhancer 4K Low Off
Noise Reduction Off Off
Dynamic Iris On On
RGB Gain Offset
Red 100 241
Green 98 242
Blue 97 238

Post-calibration Cinema Mode color temp normal preset

Cinema Mode Post-Calibration DeltaE 2000 (target below error of 3)
Cinema Mode Post-Calibration DeltaE 2000 (target below error of 3)

Delta E is a metric for understanding how the human eye perceives color difference. The term delta comes from mathematics, meaning change in a variable or function. The suffix E references the German word Empfindung, which broadly means sensation. Simply put, look at Delta E as a measure of grayscale/color accuracy. 3 and under is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye.

BEST MODE CALIBRATION FOR 4K/HDR - HDR10 MODE

Normally I would next perform a Brightest Mode (1080P) calibration, but Art wanted me to do things a little different with the HT5550, something akin to my recent Epson calibrations, two 4K/HDR calibrations. One using the wide color gamut filter and one without. The reason for this is the filter soaks up nearly 50% the lumen output further diminishing the HDR impact. So, with the filter you get closer to the P3 color gamut but loose the lumens.

Now although the projector does offer one user mode it is not available with HDR content. In fact, you won’t even see the HDR10 mode until you actually feed the projector an HDR signal. This means if you want to try both of my 4K/HDR calibrations you will have to input all of my settings for one, watch some content then input all of the settings for the other with no way of A-B’ing them. (bouncing back & forth).

My first 4K/HDR calibration was done with the default setting for the wide color gamut filter which is on. It makes sense as BenQ is marketing this projector as being able to achieve 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Brilliant color is off by default and I left off. I tried raising the contrast like I’m able to do with some other projectors (i.e. Sony & Epson) but discovered doing so here caused clipping resulting in plastic looking complexions. I believe this is tied to BenQ’s new HDR-PRO technology.

The default color temp was set to normal (locked) and measured an average of 7000K which is actually pretty good for HDR. All that was needed was to lower blue gain by 5 to 95. This flattened out the white balance to a 6550 average. Only the recent Epson 5050UB was more actuate and that’s because it has an additional 8-point white balance control.

HDR10 Mode Post-Calibration RGB Balance / Grayscale Tracking (target D65)
HDR10 Mode Post-Calibration RGB Balance / Grayscale Tracking (target D65)

With the HDR brightness set to its default of 0 the EOTF (gamma) measured overly bright from the low end to the mid grayscale then with a rather broad arch continuing to drop off in lumen output on the high end (cue slide whistle sound effect). Here is where the Epson’s and Sony’s are far superior in following the EOTF curve by maintaining their luminance linearity.

Overall my impressions of the HDR image via some UHD movies was that BenQ pushed the overall brightness on the lower to mid grayscale and therefore losing the actual contrast or pop HDR is supposed to give us. Lowering the HDR brightness did not appear to improve things in that regard but simply lowered the overall brightness of the image. Rising HDR brightness to just +1 caused issues with clipping and waxy complexions just like I saw when rising contrast above 50. DeltaE was poor with the largest errors measuring 7 to 8 between 20 to 60IRE. 70 to 100IRE fared better with DelatE down to .5 to 2. These errors are not because of white balance, but because of the EOTF (gamma).

I originally kept brightness & tint at 50 but after my CMS calibration the color seemed over saturated and so I turned it down to 35. I feel as though the overcooked colors were tied to the overly bright gamma. I kept sharpness at 15 but turned pixel enhancer 4K down from 12 to 8.

HDR10 Mode (HDR Brightness 0) Post-Calibration (Electro-optical Transfer Function) aka gamma
HDR10 Mode (HDR Brightness 0) Post-Calibration (Electro-optical Transfer Function) aka gamma

IRE Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
10 IRE 7491K 6934K
20 IRE 7274K 6645K
30 IRE 7094K 6669K
40 IRE 7095K 6658K
50 IRE 7044K 6511K
60 IRE 6998K 6545K
70 IRE 7047K 6504K
80 IRE 6964K 6473K
90 IRE 7001K 6507K
100 IRE 6990K 6492K

Measurements taken at Mid Zoom High LampWith the HDR brightness set to its default of 0 the EOTF (gamma) measured overly bright from the low end to the mid grayscale then with a rather broad arch continuing to drop off in lumen output on the high end with 649 max lumens.

Type Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
Contrast 50 50
Brightness 50 50
Color 50 35
Tint 50 50
Color Temp Normal Normal
Type Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
Sharpness 15 15
Brilliant Color off off
HDR Brightness 0 0 or -1
Color Enhancer 0 0
Flesh Tone 0 0
Pixel Enhancer 4K 12 8
Motion Enhancer 4K off off
Noise Reduction off off
Dynamic Iris off on
RGB Gain Offset
Red 100 256
Green 100 256
Blue 95 256

Post-calibration HDR10 Mode color temp normal

HDR10 Mode Post-Calibration DeltaE 2000 (target below error of 3)
HDR10 Mode Post-Calibration DeltaE 2000 (target below error of 3)

BRIGHTEST MODE CALIBRATION FOR 4K/HDR - HDR10 MODE

For my Brightest Mode 4K/HDR calibration I turned off the wide color gamut filter. This increased the lumen output by nearly 50% but sacrificed the claimed P3-DCI color gamut. Brilliant color is off by default but I turned it on for this calibration. Like my previous 4K/HDR calibration I left contrast at 50 as increasing it caused clipping issues.

The default color temp was set to normal and measured so close to 6500 that I was not able to improve it. BenQ’s white balance controls are a bit course and even more so with HDR content. Just lowering the blue gain by 1 made the white balance slightly worse with a red/green push in the upper end of the grayscale. As with my previous 4kHDR calibration.

HDR10 Mode (Wide Color Gamut Off) Post-Calibration RGB Balance / Grayscale Tracking (target D65)
HDR10 Mode (Wide Color Gamut Off) Post-Calibration RGB Balance / Grayscale Tracking (target D65)

I recommend you keep HDR brightness at its default of 0 for the same reasons I mention in my first 4K/HDR calibration. EOTF (gamma) also measured very similar, overly bright from the low end to the mid grayscale then continuing to drop off in lumen output to about 70IRE. I kept brightness & tint at 50 and set color to 35. I kept sharpness at 15 but turned pixel enhancer 4K down from 12 to 8. DeltaE was similar but slightly worse than my previous 4K/HDR calibration.

Overall color performance was similar to my Best Mode 4K/HDR but nearly twice as bright so I suggest to try both options and see which one you prefer for your room/screen.

HDR10 Mode (HDR Brightness 0) Post-Calibration (Electro-optical Transfer Function) aka gamma
HDR10 Mode (HDR Brightness 0) Post-Calibration (Electro-optical Transfer Function) aka gamma

IRE Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
10 IRE 6267K 6267K
20 IRE 6437K 6437K
30 IRE 6425K 6425K
40 IRE 6416K 6416K
50 IRE 6401K 6401K
60 IRE 6418K 6418K
70 IRE 6502K 6502K
80 IRE 6560K 6560K
90 IRE 6616K 6606K
100 IRE 6990K 6616K

Measurements taken at Mid Zoom High LampWith the HDR brightness set to its default of 0 and the WCG turned off the EOTF (gamma) measured very similar, overly bright from the low end to the mid grayscale then continuing to drop off in lumen output to about 70IRE 1233 max lumens.

Type Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
Contrast 50 50
Brightness 50 50
Color 50 35
Tint 50 50
Color Temp Normal Normal
Type Pre-Calibration Post-Calibration
Sharpness 15 15
Brilliant Color off on
HDR Brightness 0 0 or -1
Color Enhancer 0 0
Flesh Tone 0 0
Pixel Enhancer 4K 12 8
Motion Enhancer 4K off off
Noise Reduction off off
Dynamic Iris off on
RGB Gain Offset
Red 100 256
Green 100 256
Blue 100 256

Post-calibration HDR10 Mode (wide color gamut off) color temp normal preset

HDR10 Mode Post-Calibration DeltaE 2000 (target below error of 3)
HDR10 Mode Post-Calibration DeltaE 2000 (target below error of 3)