Epson Powerlite Pro L1500, L1505 Projector Review – Performance

EPSON PRO L1505 PROJECTOR REVIEW – Performance:  Brightness, Image Noise, Audible Noise

Epson L1500, L1505 Brightness

If 12,000 lumens claimed doesn’t make this Epson projector a light canon, I can’t imagine what it would take.  Pointing this projector at the 100″ screen in my testing room, when taking screen photos, It was hardly worth the trouble to turn off the room lighting, the projected image was so bright, that the ambient would have a truly negligible effect on the photos.  Even the warmth from the warm LED lighting wasn’t evident on the screen.  I only bothered to kill the lights for the test images and the brightness measurement, but the lighting really wouldn’t have impacted the measurements enough to matter either.  12,000 is a whole lot of lumens, when you consider that a decade or more ago, 2000 lumen projectors were the favorite rental and staging projectors for handing auditoriums and hotel ballrooms.

I have found over the years, that measuring engineering samples often doesn’t provide an accurate representation of what full production projectors will measure.  About the only time one can expect an engineering sample to perform essentially identically to a full production unit is when the projector in question, is simply a minor upgrade from a predecessor, where little has changed, especially to the light engine.

Obviously in the case of these Epson laser projectors like this L1505, there are no similar predecessors. When dealing with a lamp based engineering sample, I often find it to be 10% or more, below the factory claim, and below the readings from production units.  I have never had a engineering sample of a commercial laser projector before, so I just don’t know what kind of differences to expect.  For that reason, I really wasn’t focused on taking measurements.

But of course I had to take one, just to see how close the L1505 came to hitting its target 12000 lumens.   I set the Epson for Dynamic mode, turned pixel shifting off (because pixel shifted images tend to appear slightly less bright), and set the zoom as close as I could eyeball it to the mid-zoom position. As usual, we do not do a full Ansi lumen measurement, but I do take 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens. That should be a pretty good approximation of Ansi lumens unless a projector rolls off brightness excessively to the edges and corners, something this Epson does not do.

Epson Pro L1505 laser projector Brightness: 11,613 lumens 

At mid-zoom, Dynamic mode.

In other words, the engineering sample should beat the 12,000 lumen claim, at least slightly, maybe more, because setting the 1.6:1 zoom to mid-point, likely causes brightness to drop at least 5% compared to full wide angle, and more likely 8-10%. Even if the drop is only 5%, then this laser projector should come in around 12,200.  Suffice to say, plenty of lumens to go around, and in line with claim.  This is a new lens, so I don’t even have experience with how zoom position affects how much light gets through on it.

PRO_L-SERIES_LIFESTYLE_2
An Epson provided “lifestyle” photo of three Epson L series projectors “in action,” simulating an edge blending setup.

When we  do full measurements of production projectors we normally compute the drop off of brightness from wide angle, to mid, to telephoto on the lens, so we would know, and report on how much drop off there is.  We traditionally report maximum measured brightness (full wide-angle), even if we report differences in color modes etc. using the mid-zoom position.  We’ll have a full range of good numbers when we review the first full production one we lay our hands on.

You might want to also consider this:  With lamp based projectors there’s often a significant difference in brightness from one lamp to the next.  Do not expect that with a laser projector.  If I had three Epson L1500 full production projectors here to measure, I’d expect the brightness results to be essentially identical, with the variation coming from more from the measuring gear and from “user error.”  I would certainly expect a batch of them to all measure within 1 or 2 percent of each other, and much of that could relate to quality control differences elsewhere (such as the power supply).

 

Image Noise

No surprises here, in that overall, image noise, using all the default settings was minor. Mosquito noise was minimal, better than the usual DLP projector, but typical for 3LCD.

Motion noise was a bit more challenging. This could be “engineering sample” but I’ve seen this before:  The L1500 shows a bit more judder during slow panning, than some other brands.  (I’ve seen other Epsons do better, but some have been similar.)  Will this improve with full production models?  Hard to say, but I wouldn’t bet on it. So, judder (such as the slow pan of the neighborhood near the beginning of the movie RED), isn’t as minimal as it could be on 24fps content. It’s better than some Sonys (they seem to the worst offenders), but not quite as clean as even some less expensive Epsons, thus my suspecting this may relate to sample status firmware.  Also of note, remember that mpeg noise reduction does not work when in pixel shifting modes.

Audible Noise

In my small testing room (about 180 sq. feet, the Epson running full power,) I fully expected to find the L1505 to be extremely noisy.

Of course this is a 12,000 lumen projector, and has no business being in a 180 sq foot room and hitting a 100″ screen. Normal for it might be a 18,000 sq. ft room, and a 250 or 300 inch diagonal screen.

I was almost blown away with it turning out that the Epson laser projector was barely louder than a typical home theater projector.  Even in my small room, no one would have to shout, or even significantly raise their voice to talk over it.

Relative to the amount of brightness the L1500 and L1505 put out, this has to be considered an amazingly quiet projector.

Although there’s no classic “eco mode” with a lower fan setting, reducing brightness more than a minimal amount (1% increments) can result in a significant drop in audible noise, not that there’s much need.

On paper Epson quotes 33 db at full power and 29 in Eco.  By comparison, their popular 2400 lumen 5040UB home theater projector is barely quieter, in fact it claims to be only 1 db (almost indistinguishably) quieter at full power!  So, score a big win for these Epson lasers, in terms of a whole lot of quiet for such powerful projectors.  In fairness, I looked at another laser projector we recently reviewed, Sony’s FHZ65. True, the Sony is about half as bright, but it too was similarly quiet (claiming 1 more db at full power, and 1 less, in its low power mode.

The folks looking for laser projectors for museum displays are going to love these Epsons for the minimal audible noise, if nothing else.

 

Current dealer prices for Epson Pro L1505U

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