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Canon SX50 - Image Quality

Posted on October 4, 2013 by Art Feierman

Thanks to LCOS technology, unlike DLP and LCD projectors you cannot see individual pixels (at least not without standing within 2 feet of an 8 foot screen. For this reason, and excellent color quality too, the Canon Realis SX50 is also getting some serious attention from some home theater enthusiasts - especially thanks to the high resolution.

This review focuses on the Canon Realis SX50 as a business (gov/edu) projector. Our primary testing uses a spreadsheet created with four color bars (red, green blue and yellow), and a variety of type and type sizes.

As you can see from the first image (under full room lighting), the Canon produces the primary colors very well, much better than the typical DLP business projector, and comparable to most LCD business projectors. As you can see in the next section showing the menus; there is a tremendous amount of control of the image, in terms of color, gamma, brightness, contrast, etc. However, out of the box, the Canon projector looks great.

Feeding the SX50 projector an SXGA+ image gives you perfectly clean text. Switching to lower resolution XGA, and also two different widescreen formats (1280x800, and 1280x768) also posed no challenge for the Canon projector. The image on the right shows the Canon SX50 projector working with an XGA (1024x768) resolution source - beautiful! (the numbers are the point size of the text) The compression technology handled all three non-native resolutions as well as could be expected, with even 8 point black text on a white background looking almost flawless, and with yellow small type of a dark blue background (a more trying test for most projectors), the compression technology still did just great. 8, 9 and 10 point type is perfectly readable on any of these resolutions. A quick look at UXGA (1600x1200) also produced highly acceptable results.

The bottom line - this Canon projector handled anything I was able to throw at it extremely well. And that is the point of an SXGA+ projector - which many users purchase to be able to faithfully reproduce very fine lines and details.

The Canon SX50 projector's 2500 lumens has plenty of brightness in conference and training rooms even under full florescent lighting, on screens to 100" diagonal and it can handle really large screens in hotel ballrooms and small auditoriums with moderate to low room lighting.

There is also a low power mode, however Canon does not publish a brightness specification for low power mode. Based on performance it looks to be about 20% dimmer than full power - therefore, about 2000 lumens. Edge to edge illumination was also very good, Canon claims the Realis SX50 offers 85% illumination uniformity, and that appears to be about right - and better than most DLP projectors.

Video performance - Since I have heard that some of the home theater crowd have been pleased with the SX50, I hooked it via component video, to see how it performed on a couple of DVD's, plus Hi-Def (HDTV) off of my cable box.

The invisibility of pixels combined with higher resolution than you can buy on any home theater projector under $25,000 are good reasons why there is interest in the Realis SX50 projector for home theater. Color handling was very good. The primary downside is the low contrast ratio (a problem of LCOS technology compared to DLP. The tradeoffs, however, include the fact that the SX50 projector is far brighter than normal home theater projectors, and as a result, some may sacrifice some of the brightness by using a neutral density filter to enhance the "blacks" (or rather the ability to have blacks look as close to black) - and not merely moderately dark gray.

The combination of brightness and high resolution does make the SX50 projector a very viable solution if you have a family room you can't darken sufficiently. Of course the major drawback is that it is a 4:3 aspect ratio projector, not 16:9 as are almost all home theater designs. (It will properly display DVD and Hi-Def sources) Still, combining the brightness with a high contrast gray screen, etc., and you do have a very impressive - bright solution for home theater, where brightness is called for.

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