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Epson Home Cinema 8350 Projector - Image Quality

Posted on October 6, 2010 by Art Feierman
These Home Cinema 8350 scene images below are either Blu-ray or HDTV. Consider that by the time these Epson Home Cinema 8350 projector images get to your eyeball, via digital SLR, software, browsers, and your monitor, there are definite color shifts, saturation differences, contrast differences... The Home Cinema 8350 images are here to support the commentary, but keep in mind these limitations when trying to compare images from the Home Cinema 8350 projector with other home theater projectors. Take them all, "with a grain of salt". Those images relating to black level performance and sharpness, however, are pretty reliable, color accuracy, getting to you (and dynamic range) are the tough issues. Different projector technologies noticeably affect the pictures I shoot. I must say I'm not particularly pleased with this set, which is a bit dark in general and the color temp appears too cool - thin on reds (and also yellows) not sure exactly why this batch was off this much. Still, they don't look bad. I will reshoot some when a full production version of the Home Cinema 8350 arrives. I think it's safe to for me to say that all home theater projectors, including the Epson Home Cinema 8350 definitely look better live, than in even the best looking images here would suggest. (If you have a decent screen, and good lighting control.)

Epson Home Cinema 8350 Out of the Box Picture Quality

Very nice. The Epson Home Cinema 8350 is impressively good out of the box. Color temp (grayscale balance) is very close to 6500K. Not bad at all, in fact better than most projectors out of the box performance. What really surprised me though was Dynamic mode, which also defaults to 6500K. I'm pretty sure this is the best looking default Dynamic (or Vivid) mode Epson has produced. Living Room mode was a puzzle, with a default 9300 color temp, it's definitely off the mark, but not as devoid of red as I expected, so I imagine the individual colors have been tweaked for that setting.

Sports, unlike previous out of the box dynamic modes, doesn't suffer from a very significant shift to green. Green has always been a bit strong on most LCD projectors (at default) but it's pretty minor in this Dynamic mode. That is, you get some 1400+ usable lumens that look pretty good on sports and other HDTV. A little over the top at times, but, hey, what "brightest mode" isn't? Besides, a touch less color saturation will usually do the trick. The skin tones could be better, but those HD channels like Discovery HD, look really bright, and dynamic. Good stuff.

Epson Home Cinema 8350 Projector - Flesh Tones

There are plenty of our favorite skin tone images, and as you look through them, you'll have to admit they look pretty good, but, again, I note that the images came out looking a bit thinner on reds than the original projected image.

Below are our three James Bond images from Casino Royale. Each has a different lighting scenario, the first - full sunlight, the second image; indoor fluorescent, and finally, filtered sunlight in the third image. And as one would expect, that causes each image of James Bond - Daniel Patrick - to have different looking skin tones. All look pretty good!

More images we like for considering skin tones:
From the DVE-HD calibration disc (digital source material, not film):
Men In Black:

What is all this fuss about black levels

It really comes down to scenes that are fairly dark. Let's consider two projectors, overall similar, but with different black level performance; this Epson 8350, and its more expensive sibling, the 8700UB.

Both should have a very similar look and feel to the colors and overall image, once calibrated. The 8700UB, however, is capable of blacker blacks that the 8350 just can't match. The 8350 blacks, by comparison will be a shade or two lighter gray. Not a whole lot, but enough to be noticeable.

On an average scene, perhaps a daytime, no sunlight shot, if there is supposed to be a true black area in the image, perhaps parts of a black car, in the shade, the 8350 will do a very good job. The 8700's black car will be a touch blacker, but you probably wouldn't notice unless seen side by side. In other words, the difference would be very slight.

Now switch to a very dark scene, such as the night train scene I use below for shadow detail comparison. All of a sudden the difference between the two projectors is pretty dramatic. The lower black levels of the 8700UB would make its image pop, and the 8100's seem dull by comparison. That's the story. The darker the scene, the more the blacks matter. Thing is, most movies have some fairly dark scenes, and even a significant percentage have some really dark scenes. Now don't forget that if you've got a 15 watt light on in the room, the difference would once again be insignificant. Therefore, the black level performance matters when watching dark scenes, in as fully darkened a room as you can manage. Let me also mention: Even if you have white walls (not a good thing) the difference in the projectors would still be there, although not quite as great a difference as with dark walls/floors/ceiling.

Still, how important is it? Well, if you are the person who wants a nice big image, but never bothered to adjust your LCDTV (probably still using the "demo/showroom" or vivid setting), I doubt you'll notice. But, if you get hooked on image quality (become an enthusiast), you'll crave a bit better blacks.

I'm a big proponent of projectors with better blacks. This Home Cinema 8100 isn't going to compete with the better, more expensive models, but it does a most respectable job for the price. With its iris it should - on darker scenes - be capable of holding its own with any other projector I've seen so far, in its price range.

Below, a satellite image from Space Cowboys. These are intentially overexposed to so that the differences in blacks (and shadow detail) are more visible. As you can see, the Epson and the Mitsubishi are particularly close (you have to compensate for the slight exposure differences). The HC4000 is a bit more overexposed, and the BenQ still more.

Epson Home Cinema 8350:

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