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BenQ W20000 Home Theater Projector Review: Image Quality

Posted on October 7, 2013 by Art Feierman

BenQ W20000: Image Quality Sections

Before I get started, a note about the images on this and other pages in this review. Since my last review, I met Michael McNamara, the former, long time editor of Popular Photography. We got into a discussion relating to the problems I have capturing the full dynamic range of the projector during my photo shoots. Thanks to his advice, I am now shooting the photos in RAW file format. These much larger files have a much wider dynamic range than normal jpg images. I immediately found a real improvement. What that means to you, however, is that it will be difficult to compare these images effectively to the same scenes shot previously. I'll give a couple of examples, in the course of completing this page.

The good news is that I have already shot, using RAW format, a few images I use for black levels and shadow detail, on a number of projectors, including the InFocus IN83, this BenQ W20000, the InFocus X10, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, the Mitsubishi HC5500, and the Viewsonic Pro8100. I will over the next couple of weeks get all of them published, which should make it easier to see the differences in black level and shadow detail between these 1080p projectors. Of course all future reviews will use this new method.

BenQ W20000 Home Theater Projector: Out of the Box Picture Quality

Not bad at all. Actually, right out of the box, if you select Cinema color preset, and Normal Color Temp, you get a well balanced image in terms of color. As noted in the calibration section on the next page, using these out of the box settings, you get an image that is a little cool, with everything from very dark gray to white, measuring in, right around 6900K, just a little bit higher than the ideal 6500K.

That's best mode. For brightest, things are dicier. After much playing around, we discovered that choosing the Dynamic Preset - along with Color Temp set to Native Lamp, or using the Cinema Preset - also with Native Lamp, is the best way to go. The one with Cinema does a bit better in color accuracy, while using Dynamic instead, gets a few hundred more lumens, but less accurate color.

But wait, there's a catch. With Native Lamp selected, the W20000 produces an image that is way, way, too cool, over 9000K, and that's just not really watchable - unless:

For those modes you really need to turn Brilliant Color on, for whatever reason, that dramatically lowers the color temperature, and gives you a very, very, watchable image, especially since you'll be in those modes when dealing with more than a tiny amount of ambient light.

W20000 Skin Tone Handling

After calibration, Skin Tone handling is very good! Not perfect though, I've seen better, notably the InFocus IN83. When calibrating the projector, Mike found the Tint setting to be useful, and using filters he came up with a setting of -19. That worked very well, and most of the images were shot that way. However, as I continued to also watch various movie content on the W20000, I wasn't quite satisfied with that tint setting. I found that somewhere between about -13 and -16 was a tad more natural. With -19 the skin tones tend to be just a touch too pink. -15, which I'm now using, solves that.

Let's look a few of the "usual images" that relate how well the W20000 does on skin tones. As is normal, we'll start with Gandalf, and Arwen images from Lord of the Rings, Return of the King. The images from Lord of the Rings are all from standard (SD) DVD. All other images in this review are from Blu-ray disc (or HDTV).

OK, now we have images from House of the Flying Daggers, a film known for spectacular color. This is a movie whose colors are not perfect, but rather reflect a certain intent by the director. Skin tones tend to be soft, and a touch rosy, regardless of which good projector I view them on.

Lastly, remember that the director often chooses to modify the color, texture and contrast to his desired goal. Another factor is lighting, when considering skin tones, full sunlight - first image below, fluorescents (second image), incandescent lighting, filtered sunlight (third image), nighttime, will all result in different skin tones. Here are the three images of James Bond, from Casino Royale

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