Posted on November 27, 2018 By Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 4010, Pro Cinema 4050 Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Brightness and Color Temperature, Color Temp Readings for Reference Mode, Post Calibration Color Temp Readings for Reference Mode, Gamma Measurement, ECO Mode: Affect of Brightness, Power Consumption, Lens Position: Affect on Brightness, Sharpness/Detail
* Digital Cinema and Cinema modes use Epson’s Cinema filter to improve color (out to P3), but at the expense of about half the brightness when engaged compared to other modes.
These Epson projectors are impressively bright. The very brightest mode – Dynamic has a slight greenish caste (far less than most projectors’ brightest modes.) Still over 3200 lumens is great, do you can put this projector in almost any room, as long as there’s some basic lighting control, and a proper screen. Note, that the 3200+ is full wide angle on the zoom lens. But you get “just a few lumens less” with the lens set to mid-zoom.
Bright Cinema rocks for sports, etc. Color while not perfect, looks great on sports and most things – think, probably still more accurate than most LCD TVs. But don’t be afraid of Dynamic (especially with some minor adjustments) if you need every last lumen for your upcoming Super Bowl party.
Natural tops out over 2200 lumens, but even calibrated, and with the lamp on medium bright, and lens on mid zoom, Natural provides 1553 lumens for your 1080p and other non 4K/HDR/P3 critical viewing. That’s more than enough lumens for a 150″ diagonal screen, technically almost enough for a 200″ screen!
Digital Cinema for 4K/HDR/P3 is excellent. Color is both accurate -and offers a wider color space than almost all of the competition, aka better color, often a touch more natural (more colors to do a skin tone, or subtle graduations such as grays or in skies.)
But Digital Cinema offers up just a bit less than 1100 calibrated lumens when calibrated for 4K/HDR, with P3 color! Now that’s not a lot of lumens for HDR, I find that I watch most 4K/HDR content this way. Sometimes when a movie seems overly “dim” I do use the alternative we also served up:
That alternative is a 2nd calibration based on Natural, but with everything geared to 4K with HDR. In that mode, the Epson can handle REC709 (which is still more than some DLP competitors can do), but can’t reach P3. So, as stated elsewhere – you have two modes to choose – the absolute best, but not all that bright, or 2077 lumens calibrated (also mid-zoom, full lamp).
Nice to have choices (which I have also said repeatedly)!
For this review we have done things a bit differently. Typically with 4K capable projectors we calibrate a “best” 1080p” mode, a “best 4K/HDR/P3” mode and a Brightest (1080) mode.
Because of the Epson’s Cinema filter, which improves color (makes P3 possible when running 4K), at the cost of about 50% brightness, we have decided instead to do two 4K modes:
In addition, we also recommend Bright Cinema for sports and most HDTV when you need more lumens. And as we have noted, Bright Cinema is cooler – color temp wise, which many (including myself) prefer for most sports viewing.
As you can see from the table to the left, overall, Digital Cinema starts out – before any adjustment, as being very cool. Definitely too cool, so let’s just say to use this mode for movies, you want to definitely lower the overall color temp.
The goal is to have all the numbers (except the very low end – 10 IRE, as close as possible to 6500K. As you can see, we’re at least 1600K above that here. Try our settings, or at the least go to the color temp settings and lower them. Hint: 6500K!
Fortunately, Epson provides very good and well behaved calibration controls. You’ll find all the settings we came up with on our two calibration pages.
In the next table, (below), you are looking at the Digital Cinema settings after Eric calibrated the Home Cinema 4010. Again, he Pro Cinema 4050 will behave identically (give or take variations from lamp to lamp).
The measurements below were taken at mid-zoom with high lamp power.
You will find gamma setting info on our calibration pages. Suffice to say for non HDR content, gamma is very, good, and very adjustable.
For HDR content (EOTF for HDR content), you will normally choose between the HDR 1 and HDR 2 setting. Or rather you will set the projector for Auto HDR Bright, or Auto HDR. I find HDR 2 to be a little on the dim side. I recommend HDR1 and therefore using the Auto HDR Bright setting so that these Epson projectors can easily and automatically select the best Gamma or EOTF (HDR)
From any color mode, switching from full power (High) to Eco mode, results in a measured drop in lumen output of just over 35%! Typically, a 25% o 35% drop is what we expect with most projectors.
These Epson projectors, however, have three power modes. There’s also Medium power, in the middle. Medium mode, by comparison is about 28% less bright than High lamp, and almost 10% brighter than Eco. As a result most folks should rely on Medium power except when max brightness is needed.
We calibrated our “Best” 4K/HDR/P3 mode at full power (High) lamp, however, because for HDR we wan all the lumens we can muster (all else being close to equal).
In the case of this Epson projector, there’s only a small drop in brightness (6%) going from full wide angle on the zoom, to mid-zoom, but a far larger drop to telephoto – but still only 25%. That’s really very good. There are projectors with 2:1 type zooms, that see drops of over 30%.
In other words, if you have to mount this Epson projector as far back as possible, in your room – such as placing it on a high rear shelf, you aren’t sacrificing a really significant amount of brightness – you lose less than going from full power to low power on the lamp.
4K HDR/P3 Image on Epson Home Cinema 4010 - from Journey To Space
HC4010/PC4050 Ghostbusters 2016
A close-up of a very small portion of the full image. The comparison images in the following images show a much larger area. Yet you can get a very good idea of how the Epson compares.
HC4010 - Close-up of previous frame. Check gauges, text, for sharpness/detail. Epson a bit less sharp/detail than some others, when sitting very close. Can seem as sharp, by cranking up the image processing.
LG HU80KA - 4K UHD DLP, a touch sharper if sitting close, 1920x1080x4 pixel shifter. This is a $2999 laser projector.
The Optoma UHD51A is a smart 4K UHD DLP projector that sells for slightly less than HC4010. Appears a touch sharper, but not as bright.
Acer VL7860, a top rated 4K UHD DLP laser projector. 2716x1528x2 pixel shifter, HC4010 can seem as sharp, but from image processing. Acer sells for about double the Epson.
Viewsonic PX727-4K - Another 4K UHD DLP projector with 1920x1080x4 resolution. This is one of the least expensive 4K capable projectors.
Sony's VW385ES (the older model, but step up from Sony VW295ES. (It was $6999, until discontinued Oct. 2018). Natively sharp, no pixel shifting! Minimal sharpness/detail processing.
From Journey To Space: 4K HDR/P3: A rendering of the Bigalow space station. Compare closeups. Next image is the HC4010/PC4050.
Very nicely sharp: HC4010. Great Image processing helps with perceived detail/sharpness. Look to rendering of man, and objects in the image, compare with others. Don't forget you can enlarge a great deal by clicking twice.
Epson Home Cinema 5040UB, but even closer look. Side by side, the HC4010 does appear a touch sharper, thanks to pixel shifting improvements (subtle).
Sony's $4999 native 4K projector - has the smallest pixels by far. Natively sharp, less image processing. The Epson can "appear" sharper, but that's processing. The Sony can be further sharpened.
LG's HU80KA laser projector - another 1920x1080x4 pixel shifter
The Optoma UHD65 is a bit more expensive, and has 2716x1528x2 resolution. It has a slight edge in perceived sharpness when sitting close. (Other differences between projectors are far greater).
Let’s take a good look at sharpness (and detail), or rather what we perceive as sharpness. As I’ve stated, all these projectors have lots of image processing, and especially true of all non-native 4K projectors when doing 4K content. These Epsons are, of course pixel shifters, and Epson has had some pretty excellent algos (algorithms), which allows them to look at first glance to be every bit as sharp as more expensive native 4K projectors. Still there’s always a price to pay.
In our photo player above, There are a number of pairs of images – full screen photos from 4K movies, and then closeups of the same scene. Of particular note, look at the two close-ups from Valerian – the general, and the large collar on the Mul woman.
Those pairs are followed by our close-up of one of the credits scenes (in the lab) from Ghostbusters 2016. When comparing look at the gauges on the left, and the small labels, and switches, there’s plenty of objects in those photos to compare. Remember once you have clicked to enlarge the images, you can still jump back and forth between any two for quick comparisons.
Overall, these Epsons do very well, but we’ve seen sharper, but only slightly, even from less expensive 4K UHD DLP projectors. It’s just that sitting 15 feet back from any of the 4K capable projectors under $10K, you shouldn’t see any real difference, rather contrast differences, and other things that might give you the impression of sharper or softer.
Just keep in mind when “worrying” about sharpness differences, that the difference say, between these Epson projectors and perhaps, the Optoma UHD65 (2716x1528x2), and the native 4K Sony (4192×2160), in what you perceive as sharpness, is going to be far less than the differences in handling HDR, or for that matter color accuracy. While I favor going native 4K, price is a huge determining factor for most of us.
When reviewing both Epson’s UBs and the older HC4000 and PC4040 that preceded these models, I said you could get extremely sharp on 4K, but that there’s going to be a slight bit of hardness, say on closeups of faces, that a native 4K won’t have.
I do believe the new pixel shifting hardware is making a difference, but of course, only a small one. I have to agree with Epson. The pixel shifting seems more precise in that things do look just a touch sharper/softer than Epsons using the older pixel shifting technology.
My next review is the $9999 HiSense 100″ Laser TV (yes it’s an ultra short throw projector), one that comes with a fixed 100″ screen designed for rooms with more than a little ambient light (such as most living/family/bonus rooms and many “media” rooms.
I took this pair of images – same frame, with the Epson Home Cinema 4010/Pro Cinema 4050, and with the Hisense.
At first glance you will immediately notice that the HiSense seems sharper. I agree. Looking closely though – thus the close up view – and you can see that there are far more artifacts. You can see lightness around small type, too much contrast and edge sharpening. This 4K UHD DLP HiSense, is definitely over sharpened, in fact for this image I reduced its sharpness setting to 2, below any of the default settings, and it still had more hardness than the Epson, even with my cranking up Epson’s Image Enhancement setting to 4 (as high as I go, out of 5). Mostly I use 2 or 3, but use 4 for my sports where I don’t mind a little hardness.
Back to the Hisense comparison. I chose this to illustrate my point about image processing. If you go back and look at the Epson vs some other 4K UHDs in the Ghostbusters credits, you’ll notice that they aren’t as over processed as the Hisense, but look a touch sharper than the Epson but not as sharp as the Hisense. (I sure hope that makes sense – art)
Bottom line on sharpness. The Epsons can be beat by the 4K UHD DLPs and by native 4Ks, but with its very good image enhancement controls any slight softness is likely gone, in exchange for a touch of hardness.
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