Projector Reviews

Epson Home Cinema LS100 Laser Projector Review – Picture Quality

Epson LS100 Laser Projector – Picture Quality: Right out of the box, Skin Tones, HDTV and Sports

LS100 - Right Out Of The Box Picture Quality

No surprise, pretty darn good. Epson is if nothing else, consistent in that basically all their projectors – commercial and home theater, will have some really good looking preset modes. I wish that was true for most manufacturers, but it isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong – you can further improve on the color of their three modes with a calibration, but we realize most of you won’t. That’s not terrible because you are starting with color that is more than acceptable if not perfectly accurate.

Are you likely to spend $300, $500 or more for a in home calibration? BTW, most calibrators will do more than just calibrate your projector – depending on the calibrator and the price, such as calibrating your disc player.

While most images in this review are post calibration – here’s one that is pre-calibration. Not bad, not bad at all! Naw, really pretty darn good, but it doesn’t measure that great.

The Home Cinema LS100 has four modes – Dynamic, Game, Bright Cinema and Cinema. Now as with most projectors, differences between a mode called Bright Cinema, and one called Cinema, is typically not a difference in brightness, but the settings of other factors such as saturation, gamma, etc. so that the “Bright” mode, looks better in ambient light. You can all understand how cranking up saturation, making skin tones over the top, and bright colors even brighter – to offset the washout that would affect those skin tones and colors from ambient light.

That’s the case here. With this Epson, it turns out that Dynamic, which is more of a “native mode”, and typically with a strong green shift. But the other three modes all measured the same, per Eric’s measurements.

Eric did a “quick-cal” of Dynamic which starts out over 30% brighter than the other three modes. The goal was to tame the green a bit.

I only used Dynamic in my photo shoot of images when shooting in my living room set up when the room is exceptionally bright – with sunlight coming on through the bi-fold doors into the living room. For the photos taken when the room was just its normal bright, not super bright, and for the night shots in that room, and photos in my theater, I used Game mode, which Eric found to be (strangely) the most accurate mode – as Eric put it, “it had a slightly better color gamut than Cinema” to base his calibration. Of course, calibrating Bright Cinema or Cinema should yield almost identical post calibration results.

If you use our settings, use Dynamic when you are dealing with too much ambient light, but use Game – our post Calibration “Best” mode, for everything else.

LS100 Skin Tones

In “brightest” mode – there’s still a little too much green in the various, but then anytime you are dealing with less than horrible lighting conditions you won’t be using Dynamic mode. For that reason, the photos in this section were taken in “best” mode, not brightest.

Game mode, did great on skin tones, as you can see by the images in this photo player. I’ve started with the player with the photo of one of the Victoria Secret shoot images (two models and photographer), but that one, isn’t post calibration, that’s the untouched Cinema mode. As I said, Epson tends to provide some excellent Preset modes. No adjustments were made for that picture.

I am not including in that player, any of the bright room images from the worst time of day, because truth is, in that hellish environment, they are washing out a good bit.

Consider though, in the same spot, before installing a bright room projector and screen a couple of years ago, at our annual Superbowl parties, the LCD TV we’d have in that location was also overwhelmed by the ambient light late in the afternoon.

Included, instead, are  images from a bit earlier in the day when outside was still pretty bright, but no sunlight coming in. The skin tones in those, look pretty good, despite taking a slight hit from the still significant amount of ambient light coming in.

LS100: HDTV and Sports

All that horsepower under the hood – 4000+ lumens, makes the image on a 100” screen every bright, even with modest to moderate ambient light present. Remember my downstairs living room is probably brighter than 98% of the living rooms out there.

Under most times of day, in most rooms, or all night long, the HC LS100 looks simply great on anything sports, as well as most HDTV in general. If it has one weak spot, it is its black levels (next section), so it’s not the greatest on really dark scenes, and the black level performance is only a step up or so from entry level. That said, look at the assorted images in this photo player.

The colors look great, and the images really pop, in mostly darkened or even average rooms, thanks to being much brighter than the vast majority of home projectors. Note I say home, not home theater.

You can put this projector in a home theater or cave, or fairly dark media room, but it has more lumens than really needed, so do that if you are looking for the advantages of ultra short throw, more than needing the brightness.

Overall, the color is excellent, so my football games, as well as watching my concert videos, and assorted HDTV including Blacklist, The Orville, Colbert, Modern Family, Mr. Robot, Madam Secretary, etc. On the other hand, When you are watching something like Game of Thrones, as everyone who has watched in my home theater agrees, that’s more like a major production movie, with dazzling visuals and plenty of really dark scenes.

It’s not that the LS100 doesn’t do fine, it will easily hold its own with a typical LCDTV (but have a far larger image), but to me, watching Game of Thrones is like watching Lord of the Rings – it deserves a big screen and a dark room. Around here, we want to be watching Game of Thrones (and everyone here agrees with me) in the dark, with the best projector available suitable for a dedicated home theater. It’s just not casual content like most streaming and HDTV. The LS100 is more of a bright room projector, than one for the dedicated theater. I’d choose the Epson 5040UB over it for Game of Thrones, for the better black level performance.

Which of course, brings us to Black Level Performance – next page: