Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review- Picture Quality 2

Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review– Picture Quality 2: 1080p Movies and 4K without HDR, HDTV and Sports, Overall Picture Quality, The Bottom Line on Picture Quality

1080p movies & 4K without HDR

The photos from these 1080p movies and 4K TV show are of content that lacks HDR, and P3 color.  We used Eric’s calibrated Natural mode for all of these photos.  From a color standpoint, Eric’s work only improved the picture colors slightly. The biggest difference between Eric’s calibration and the original unadjusted mode, is that after his calibration, the images werer a little cooler – lower color temp. The changes in color, between “before and after” are, at most, slight.

Whether looking at skin tones (Blacklist, Bond), or outdoor images (more Bond), or other general content, the Home Cinema 5050UB is really excellent, post calibration.  If not for a couple of Sony projectors, I’d have to say that the Epson’s color is as good as we see.  Certainly – “close enough” to please almost everyone but some of us hard core fanatics, even without calibration. BTW BenQ is another company that does a very good job, “right out of the box.”

As a result, our calibration settings will be less useful here (for non-HDR content) than with most projectors.  Lamp variations (quality control) and aging of a lamp, are likely to cause as much shifting as the difference between default, and Eric’s calibrated settings. Still, try ours out.  If you like them better, go for it. Overall, this Epson’s tendencies are well balanced, but a little cool, with Natural being the closest to D65 before calibration.  Even Digital Cinema with its filter is on the cool side.  On the other hand, Digital Cinema calibrated almost perfectly, with only a 200 degree difference from 10 IRE to 100!  wow!

BTW the differences between pre-calibration and post-calibration for our Best 4K with HDR/P3 mode, are greater since Natural starts out about 500 degrees warmer than Digital Cinema.

BTW for those not calibrating, for best color temp, the easiest thing to do is to go into Digital Cinema – Color Temp and adjust downward one setting (Down one might be too much for Natural mode.  But the right way to do it, is to adjust the Color Temp Gain and Bias.  See Eric’s calibration pages for our settings!

Overall skin tones in this mode, aren’t as perfect as what we would expect if calibrating Digital Cinema mode instead of Natural, because of the addition of the Cinema filter in Digital Cinema mode (and P3 color).   Let’s just say that the Cinema filter smooths out imperfections of color consistency, but at the cost of brightness, aka lumens.   We had to make a calculated decision which mode to calibrate and thought that running Natural mode at high power lamp gave us maximum brightness, but some will prefer the noticeably quieter Medium lamp setting.

The bottom line on color and picture handling on non-4K HDR content – Just a touch below excellent!  Except of course in very dark scenes, where the Epson’s black level performance compared to the competition, gives it a “huge” advantage.  So far, only a $1000 more JVC can best the Epson at black levels.  Also, we are reviewing at this time, the new BenQ HT5550 ($2500) which should prove to be a real competitor.

HDTV and Sports

For general HDTV (where production qualities are typical “TV” not up there with say, sci-fi movies, or high production TV shows like Game of Thrones), we offer you two recommendations.

First, for the better of two modes in terms of color accuracy, use the calibrated Natural mode that we also recommend for 1080p movies and 4K content without HDR/P3.

But, for even more pop, and a slightly cooler (more blue in whites, etc, less red) overall color temp, I recommend using Bright Cinema mode.  It starts out a bit cooler – probably averaging a bit over 7000K instead of 6500K.  That looks better on my sports in almost all cases, because, like many, I find 6500K a bit too reddish/yellow, on sports.

I’ve been using Bright Cinema on High lamp for maximum brightness when I have the four window’s shutters mostly open in my home theater on any bright day.  While an unadjusted Brilliant color isn’t extremely accurate, it is really well balanced, and always tends to look pretty great!

HC5050UB - Overall Picture Quality

The Home Cinema 5050UB is markedly different from all the “competition” out there, except, of course when compared to the Pro Cinema 6050UB or the two less expensive projectors which share most of the features of the UB:  The HC4010 and PC4050.  The primary difference compared to the less expensive Epsons is the major improvement in black levels.  Otherwise, the overall picture quality is about equal.  Of course, the 5050UB is a better 4K game player, than those less expensive models, but that’s not really “overall picture quality” unless you consider 4K HDR 60fps games to fit “overall.”

Epson vs BenQ
Epson HC5050UB top, BenQ HT3550 bottom. Same exposure has Epson brighter on 4K HDR content/P3 color. Both use a cinema filter, both are uncalibrated for this shot.  The Epson looks a touch overexposed (or we could have underexposed the BenQ.

 

As to the rest of the competition, at or below its price, the HC5050UB has no real competiton in terms of features.  Only the new BenQ HT5550 (which we are reviewing now), offers a fair amount of zoom lens range (but no match for the Epsons), and a decent amount of lens shift (again, no match).  But that projector lacks motorized lens features so can’t practically work with the wide “Cinemascope” screens that are very popular among movie fanatics (like me).

Sharpness is part of picture quality, but we prefer to place our close look at the projector’s sharpness into the Performance page, where we have a couple of interesting comparison photos against a 4K UHD BenQ projector (close-ups).  Check that out – Performance is coming up next.

The Bottom Line on Picture Quality

There are plenty of 4K UHD projectors in the $1500 – $3000 selling price range, which includes some laser projectors like the LG HU80KA and the Acer VL7860 (at the high end).  The LG though is “home entertainment”  despite being similar in price.  It will not produce the highly accurate colors etc. that the Epson can, and it’s black levels are not impressive, and no match in features.

Translated – If you want really good color combined with great black levels, the HC5050UB so far is the only game in town, with only the equally brand new BenQ HT5550 a possible challenger in the overall picture, Stay tuned for that review, due late May (2019).

What impresses me the most, with the new 5050UB, isn’t the faster gaming, nor the overall color – since the 5050UB really isn’t better than earlier UBs. The most dramatic improvement is with HDR content.  While the 3rd (and most recent) firmware upgrade to the 5040UB was major, the 5050UB’s HDR looks brighter – and better.

Very bottom line:  No projector is perfect, but when it comes to performance and value, under $3000, I can find other projectors with excellent value, but none that can match its overall picture performance of the Home Cinema 5050UB.