Projector Reviews

Christie LHD878-DS Laser Projector Review – Picture Quality

Christie LHD878-DS Projector Review – Picture Quality: Handling Color, Black Levels and Shadow Detail, Pixel Shifting on 2K, 4K content, Pixel Shifting vs Other Features

With an advertised 7,800 lumens, the light output of the Christie LHD878-DS was way more than what was required for my 120-inch screen, even under full ambient lighting. The projector’s brightness could be tamed in my theater by setting its Light Source mode to “Long Life 2”. This increases the light life to 50,000 hours is about while still delivering well over 3500 lumens. In this mode the projector could be used 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for nearly 25 years.

Also, since the LHD878-DS was so much brighter than my reference projector, it really increased color saturation which made the projected image look similar to an ultra large flat panel TV. It produced a good-looking picture and its high brightness and good black level made images, text, and graphics pop on screen.

COLOR REPRODUCTION

The LHD878-DS offers 9 preset SDR picture modes and 2 HDR picture modes. The presets include DYNAMIC, NATURAL, STANDARD, CINEMA, WHITEBOARD, HDR BROADCAST, HDR CINEMA, DICOM along with additional 3 customizable user presets. Each factory preset has a predetermined gamma and color temperature setting.

When I first turn on the LHD878-DS all the picture presets looked a little strange. The colors were way off. After a little investigation I noticed that the reviewer before me must have been playing with the CMS and the white balance settings. Some setting like CMS are applied across all picture modes.

Once I did a hard factory reset the picture looked better. While the colors are not as accurate as many home theater projectors, the picture out of the box would be good to fit the application needs as most end users.

While I am including sample photos, please be advised that it is difficult to truly evaluate color accuracy because some color information and details are always lost when photographing content that has been projected onto a screen. This is further complicated by massive photo file compression, and the ability of your display (computer or mobile device) to accurately reproduce color and contrast.

Below are photos of our skin tone test image showing the difference between the preset picture modes.

The most accurate picture was delivered by the natural mode and the 3 user preset modes. The most accurate preset picture modes out of the box are user NATURAL and surprisingly DYNAMIC. The NATURAL mode was the best especially when viewing content in a darker environment. The CINEMA mode which is normally one of the most accurate picture modes on a projector was overly warm delivering skin tones that were reddish.

Being that this is a commercial business class projector I didn’t expected to provide the color reproduction and deep black levels found on a high-end home theater projector.

Next are images of a variety of content including HDR, 4K and HD. As mentioned previously all our photos remain unadjusted for color, so they do not look as good as what the projector produced.

For applications where color accuracy is critical, the LH878 has a full suite of calibration adjustments including 2-Point White Balance, Grayscale and CMS which would allow a calibrator to further dial in the picture quality. After calibration, you can store all adjustments made in Image Setting menu under one of the LHD878 four setting memories.

BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL

Like many business class projectors, the LHD878’s blacks were just a dark shade of grey. The projector does offer a dynamic laser lamp mode which increases it rated dynamic contrast to 4,000,000:1 it still can’t reproduce the contrast and blacks of a good cinema projector like the JVC NX5 that I reviewed earlier this year.

To be fair, I have yet to come across a business class projector that can match the black level of a good home theater projector. To be fair, a home theater is nowhere near as bright as this projector. In an environment where the LHD878 like a museum or auditorium, brightness is probably more important than absolute black level.

When the lights were off that I craved a Home Theater projector like the JVC but with the lights on, I would choose the LHD878 every time. Unless I was watching a dark scene in a blacked-out room, you probably won’t miss any additional black level.
Dark shadow detail could have been a touch better even after adjusting the projector. They weren’t bad but some far less expensive home theater projectors, including many Christies, can do better job. However, in most large venue applications (churches, concerts, museums, etc.) ambient light wouldn’t allow you to fully appreciate any additional black level and shadow detail, so most would sacrifice little for the added dynamic range provided by LHD878 brightness.

While better blacks may be achievable, I believe this Christie has what it takes to display some pretty critical content such as projecting in a museum setting or for displaying photography/videography in general. Also, having so much brightness available increases visible dynamic range, especially in room with medium to high ambient light which really made the colors pop.