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Epson Home Cinema 5030UB Projector Review - Screens

Posted on November 6, 2013 by Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 5030UB Projector Review - Screens: Screen Recommendations, Projector Screen: Cave / Home Theater, Projector Screen: Family Room - Media Room - Living Room, 3D and Choosing a Projector Screen

Screen Recommendations

You will find this section to be very similar to the page for the Epson 5020 projector. There really aren't any great differences between the two generations of Epson's that would have any impact on projection screen selection.

The very good calibrated brightness, plus over 2000 lumens at its brightest, takes the pressure off of choosing the right scren.

Your room and screen size, will have the most influence on your projector screen decision. Well, that and your viewing habits (daytime vs night), and your budget.  Let's break it down this way: Home Theater/Caves or Livingroom/bonus room.

Projector Screen: Cave / Home Theater

A variety of dedicated Home Theaters (or cavse) will have some common attributes: medium to (ideally) very dark surfaces, all window lighting under control, basically full control of other lighting. But rooms with truly low amounts of ambient light fit in this group, be they home theaters or just darker rooms.

Put an Epson Home Cinema 5030 UBUB or UBE in such a room, the next question becomes how big is the screen, and the third - how far back is the projector mounted (in terms of zoom range). Let me point out that lens placed in full telephoto as it might be on a rear shelf, will deliver only about 60% the brightness than if you place the projector at its closest to the screen.

If you aren't placing the Home Cinema 5030 UBUB projector at the extremes of its lens throw, then you should have between 500 and 700 calibrated lumens.  That's going to allow for typical screens up to about 125" diagonal.  But this Epson has a number of brighter, and much brighter modes.  You can count on about 1400 lumens that still look rather good and 1800+ that's passable, which you won't need in your theater, except for 3D.

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I'm talking about a 1.0 gain screens up to say 110" diagonal, and with a 1.3 gain screen roughly 133" diagonal, if you are at or closer than mid-point on the zoom.  Keep in mind lamps dim over time.

In Dynamic or Livingroom mode, you'll have tons of brightness, you'll be able to provide some ambient lighting, let's say you're watching sports.  If your room is theater like, life should be wonderful.

If you want intentional side lighting in your room (ie. sconces) or have blacked out windows that you want to open a bit for non-movies, you may have enough lumens with a white screen like the Stewart Studiotek 130 (1.3) and Carada Brilliant White (1.4) screens that are my primaries.

But, if you plan to spend a lot of time with side ambient light, you will maintain much better blacks going with a high contrast gray screen, as they tend to "reject" a lot of the side ambient light. Then consider HC gray screens like the Stewart Firehawk, Da-lite HC Cinema Vision, etc.  Elite makes a nice light gray surface that has some side rejection, but is also a bit brighter than most HC gray projector screens.  If you are going small screen (110" or less), you might choose a darker HC gray screen like the Grayhawk or HC-Da-Mat. The downside to those darker screens is for 3D, where brightness is relatively scarce.

On the other hand, don't forget to consider your 3D viewing.  We'll discuss how 3D demands might alter your best choices.

Don't have, or want a theater or cave?  Let's talk Family room, living room, bonus room, rooms more typical.

Projector Screen: Family Room - Media Room - Living Room

Now we consider rooms that are lighter, or even light - off white. While some surfaces might not be really bright (walls perhaps), it's likely that your ceilings and floors are not very dark. Even for movie viewing, the reflected light of your image off the screen will bounce around and eventually, a noticeable amount will reflect back onto the screen. Contrast will diminish, but - an important but:

Projectors with better black levels will still always look better than those without, even with some ambient light present, Of course at some point, when both just look "washed out" from way too much ambient light, it hardly matters.

Below find content I've been repeating with minor changes for several years now.  They include images from my old great room/theater, (before/after).  This may help you get a some good idea of what different rooms and lighting.

The soon to be good news:  We're adding a screen and projector to our current living room.  It's a nightmare setup in the daytime thanks to massive ambient light coming in from outside, so the screen type and brightness is the key.   I'm installing a Screen Innovations Black Diamond 1.4 as it's the best screen I know of for my room. (It is rather expensive, especially in the motorized version I just ordered.)

First image below taken using 128" screen, an old (2007) Sony VW60. A projector that we measured at a max of under 700 lumens, about the same brightness as the Home Cinema 5030UB measures when calibrated.  This room at that time, was football during the day, everything else, at night only. (My separate media room was far darker for watching movies in the daytime.)

The second image - same setup, the now ancient Epson 1080UB - six generations before this 5030 UB and twice as bright as the Sony. Now consider the Epson 5030 UB is roughly 3 times as bright in Dynamic mode. That is the Stewart Firehawk screen in the picture. It looked far better straight back, with most of that light from the doors not reflected.

My presumption is, you care about good movie performance and having good blacks since you are considering, or own this projector. Rooms with a fair amount of light are often just fine for almost all HDTV and definitely sports. They won't be significantly impacted by reflected light from the original image.

This image shows the difference after darkening the ceiling, and taking the walls to a dark rust color: Even with the door shades partially open, the JVC used in this picture had about the same brightness as the Sony in the first image. The moral to the story - darker walls can easily offset having fewer lumens.

I loved having that Stewart Firehawk G3 (in the images above) in my last home for handling a light surfaced room. It was 128" diagonal in a room with a cathedral celing. When I started out there, all the walls were off white, as was the ceiling, and the carpet was gold. Lots of windows, which I covered with pleated shades - but with no channels. The Firehawk allowed me to have a good picture even with a moderate amount of light ("can read a newspaper bright").

That HC gray screen rejects most of the side lighting. This allowed me to even have my side window shades open a few inches on sunny days, and still have a large, great football image. If your ambient is coming from straight back near the projector, like rear windows, the HC gray won't help you.

Ultimately, though, an HC gray is going to be the best choice for most folks with lighter rooms, and especially if the lights are on the sides. Consider especially the Firehawk G3, and the various Screen Innovations Black Diamond screens (different gains, etc.) which are especially good, but also relatively pricey. Also: Elite's HC Gray, Da-lite's HC-Da-Mat, and so on. Typically we're talking screens with gains of 0.8 to 1.1 gain.  It's viable to trade a little brightness for some ambient light rejection,. (Note HC screens also tend to be a touch darker in the corners/sides than a 1.0 gain white.)

Don't get me wrong, you can go with a standard white surface, but in a light surfaced room, you'll also appreciate the gray surface's ability to lower the overall black levels, although with the Epson that's not much of a problem, as it inherently has excellent black levels.

3D And Choosing a Projector Screen

3D Screens: With active shutter glasses (as are all the home theater projector solutions so far), almost any screen will work. I'm told there are some slight differences, but haven't heard of any real issues.

With 3D, the key issue becomes having a bright enough image.  True, ambient light still comes into play.  As a side note, the glasses darken the ambient light as well as the image, (just not as much).

With over 1600 measured lumens in our "tuned" Dynamic mode, the picture's rather good in 3D! Figure that the image to your eyes is about 1/3 as bright in 3D. That makes our 1700 in 3D, the rough equivalent of watching 2D at about 550 lumens.

Well, 550 lumens is only about 100 lumens less than running 2D in "best" calibrated mode.

The Epson Home Cinema 5030 UBUB 3D "brightest" mode has the horsepower to handle most of those 100" or so screens with respectable brightness, and be a bit dim with larger screens the size of my old 128".   Currently I do my  viewing in an all dark surfaced room, where filling my 124 inch screen for 3D provides an image that could be a bit brighter, to make me happy, but is certainly watchable.

So, in figuring your screen size, you might, if you want to max out for 3D, (depending on your type of room - cave or not), opt for a little more screen gain.  a 1.3 or 1.4 instead of a 1.1, or if you are going gray screen, perhaps a 1.1 or 1.3 instead of a .8 gain.

The Epson Home Cinema 5030 UB 3D image is as bright as you will find on any quality home theater projector.  There may be a few sub-$1000 projectors that are cross-overs that might be a touch brighter, but those aren't refined home theater projectors - no comparison.

Remember with optimal setup, the Epson measured about 2100 lumens!

I'm not a fan of the brighter high power screens like the Da-lite 2.5 gain, but it does provide lots of extra brightness.  Too narrow a viewing cone for my taste, and too much corner roll-off.

Another option, budget allowing, is go dual screen.  Park a pretty high gain screen on the wall, and then add, in front of it, a lower gain screen for 2D viewing.  Whatever makes you happy.

Your room is, of course central to any decision.  Choose wisely!

Note, if buying online, there are a number of well respected dealers out there, selling projectors, that have a knowledgeable enough sales staff to really assist you with screen selection.

I'm a big fan of "AV" type dealers. When I owned one of the larger AV dealers, our sales and support folks knew the products, knew screens too. All of the dealers currently advertising on my site in the US, were major competitors of ours "back in the day".  They too were well staffed with good folk most of whom who knew their stuff.  I think you are going to have to look really hard to find serious expertise on Amazon.  Good shopping.

PS.  Motorized vs. Fixed Wall vs. Pull-down Screens.

Consider fixed to the wall screens to be the best solution.  They all maintain a fair amount of evenly applied tension, to insure an almost perfectly flat surface.

Motorized and pull-down screens come in tensioned and not versions.  Be aware:  A pull down or motorized projection screen that is not tensioned is likely a poor investment.  Sooner or later it will develop some waves, and they are pretty obvious when viewing, especially when a scene is being panned.  With an untensioned screen, those wave will appear sooner, rather than later.    Definitely invest in a tensioned screen.

There are far more good motorized screens out there I believe, than pull-downs screens, especially for home theater.  I've had high quality tensioned motorized screens for longer than 5 years (Firehawk G3) and 3.0 years (Studiotek 130), with no visible distortions.  Both have tension controls so I can tighten them up if needed.

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