Here is the commentary on each of the black & white starship images above, comparing them to the Epson Home Cinema 5030UB.
Panasonic PT-AE8000U: The blacks don't measure as low (ie at one point in the letter box area, the Epson's "blacks" measure in at 36, while the Panasonic's blacks measure in at 45, which is a really significant difference. But checking in the high bright areas, the difference is slight - with near white's on the Panasonic measuring 254 while the Epson is at 253. Thus white handling is virtually identical (within .5%) while blacks are about 30% lighter on the Panasonic. The Panny is a very nice ultra-high contrast projector but in reality, it's not a match for the older 5020UB and certainly less so compared to the Home Cinema 5030 UB.
Sony VPL-HW50ES: A little more overexposed making it hard to compare. BTW, our ratings of black level performance are not based on the few images here. They are based on overall viewing. The nature of dynamic irises and how they are setup means that one projector can be better at blacks on one image, while being not as good on another image. Keep that in mind. The "starship" and "night train" images are good examples of moderately dark, and very dark scenes, but they do not, by themselves, define how good one projector is, compared to another. My final calls about black levels are subjective, based on viewing movies, not staring at still images.
Optoma HD8300: Very nice, offers slightly better blacks than the Panasonic, (and definitely a bit shy of the 5030UB)
Optoma HD25-LV (lower cost, $1499 3D capable projector): Blacks are not as good as the Panny, let alone, the Epson. The blacks measure about half way in between the Epson and Panasonic, but the whites measure below both. Overall, the Optoma is below the Panasonic in black level performance, and not match at all for the Epson - as in, not all that close!
JVC DLA-X35 (JVC's current direct competition but at $3499): Overall better blacks than the Epson even if the JVC can't get as dark. The trick is they don't use a dynamic iris, thus have more dynamic range. On really dark scenes, though the Epson has the advantage, on medium and brighter scene the JVC would.
Runco LS10d projector ($27,000+): This one is included to make the point, that a lot more money doesn't mean any significant improvement in black levels. Think, instead that other things become more important.
Sharp XV-Z30000 (direct competitor): Impressive black level performance, although not quite as good as the 5030 UB. Close enough to be considered a true ultra-high contrast competitor.