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Epson Home Cinema 720 Projector Review - Image Quality

Posted on October 5, 2008 by Art Feierman
In this section, we look at the Epson Home Cinema 720 projector's overall picture quality in four areas: Skin Tones, Black Levels and Shadow Detail, Sharpness, and Overall Picture Quality.

Epson HC720 Home Cinema Projector: Skin Tones

The Epson Home Cinema 720 has an interesting feature, which is called Skin Tone, and it offers you different settings to fine tune the skin tone performance. The lower numbers have more reddish content. In truth the settings will also affect other parts of the image, where objects have some characteristics similar to most skin tones. It's a nice feature, and depending on what I watched, in most cases I found the best setting to be 3, but, also 4, and on occasion, 2.

When you consider that there are differences in how well, and what qualities skin tones take on for different movies, and other content with their varying production qualities, I found that I might just change this setting going from one movie to another. I should also mention that different color modes (ie. Theater Black 1, Living Room), may have different default settings for Skin Tone (3 or 4).

So, how did the HC720 do? Very well overall, but I should note that without more calibration than I know how to do, on occasion, they can look a little contrasty and oversaturated. Please, I'm talking subtle here.

Take a look at some images. First though, remember that my very good digital SLR can't begin to capture the full dynamic range that these projectors produce. As such, in a normally exposed image, the near whites tend to "blow out" and be white, and near fully bright colors lose their intensity. At the same time, dark shadow detail is virtually, completely gone - "black crush". So, remember that the images are here to support the commentary. Also most images in reviews will appear slightly oversaturated on most monitors. You can adjust if you prefer.

Let's get started with some images from standard DVDs (SD-DVD), Gandalf, and Arwen from Lord of the Rings - like most images, you can click for much larger versions:

Nice, huh!?

Moving to Blu-Ray DVDs, here are a number of good images for comparing skin tones, and assessing the quality.

Note, that often movies even intentionally alter their overall color or just in certain scenes (including Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and many others). Further, skin tones will appear different under different lighting. To give you a feel for different lighting, here are several images from Casino Royale, of James Bond. The first is in direct sunlight, The second, a florescent lit airport, and the third, shaded on a sunny day. Indoor will also yield different results as well as nighttime.

Bottom line, not the most film-like handling of skin tones despite very natural color. The HC720 will please most, but not those seeking perfection for $1200 or so. Think this way, if you've been to Best Buy or similar looking at a wall of LCDTV's and Plasmas, you might notice a few that look noticeably worse than others, but many look really great, but all slightly different from each other. The Epson is one of those that looks really great.

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