Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review- Picture Quality

Posted on November 15, 2019 by Art Feierman

Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB 4K Capable Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality: Out of the Box Picture Quality, Skin Tones, Black Levels/Shadow Detail, 4K Movies (with HDR)

Out-of-the-Box Picture Quality

The Epson Pro Cinema 6050UB is Epson's new flagship when it comes to picture quality.  As I have mentioned, in most ways this 6050UB is identical to the HC5050UB. Unfortunately doing the reviews months apart, I can't really substantiate Epson's claim that the best quality controlled lenses (and other components) end up in the PC6050UB, with the rest going to the HC5050UB, HC4010, and PC4050 projectors. JVC, I might note, has long offered a higher performance/lower performance projector pair at different price points, much as Epson is doing here.  Back then I got to test the two JVC's side by side, and the differences were there - not great, but there.  I expect the same from the Epson PC6050UB vs HC5050UB.

The two projectors have almost identical color right out of the box.  My photos confirm that.  Any differences are more likely due to different numbers of hours on the lamps, and the usual slight color temp differences from one lamp to the next.

That out of the box color - is at least, really good! Like with the HC5050UB, the brightest mode – Dynamic – is a bit strong on greens, but not nearly as bad as most projectors in their equivalent brightest modes. More significantly, several modes are reasonably close (brightness wise) to Dynamic. Natural is down about 30% in brightness, Bright Cinema not far behind, but both Natural and Bright Cinema combine that brightness with some really good color, even with no adjustments.

The UB series and also Epson's HC4010, and PC4050 have a cinema filter built in.  That filter, when engaged (Digital Cinema mode), further improves color, allowing these lamp-based projectors to get very, very close to achieving P3 color – which means rivaling the color quality of a commercial movie theater!  Engaging the filter does take a toll in brightness as there is a 40% drop going from Bright Cinema to Digital Cinema modes.

Note, we did not calibrate this Pro Cinema 6050UB.  I understand, historically how close the HC and PC have to be, so I dropped our "best" 4K HDR/P3 calibration settings from the HC5050UB's review, and put them in user savable memory 1 (of 10).

BTW the Cinema filter in these projectors is one reason why we do two 4K HDR calibrations – Digital Cinema for 4K/HDR with P3 color, and Natural for 4K/HDR, but only REC709 color. Eric calibrated (for the HC5050UB) Digital Cinema for 4K with HDR and P3 (with 50% larger color space than REC709), which we call our “Best” 4K mode – and also calibrated Natural mode – let’s call that “Brightest” 4K mode (which like Bright Cinema mode does not use the Cinema filter). That way, depending on your environment, screen, etc., you have the choice:  When you need more brightness – use our “Brightest” 4K mode (Natural), and when things are really dark in your room, enjoy the slightly better color with the Epson PC6050UB’s “Best” 4K mode.

In a perfect world, of course you turn on a projector (or TV) and watch it.  You don't change modes normally.  Ideally one should be able to get the best color with one calibration. But with projectors, where folks want the best possible performance for their purpose (sports - lights on, movies, dark room, etc.), it makes sense to choose a mode that is most suitable.

I took several photos from movies (including Passengers), and compared them to the images from the HC5050UB. Close but not quite on the money.  The Pro Cinema definitely seems a touch warmer, but that is likely either just lamp variation, or more likely that because Epson slightly changes some of the menu labels:  using 6500K, 7000K, 7500K etc. for color temp on the HC5050UB, but uses numbers 1-8 for color temp on the PC.  Mostly all I really needed to do was set the color temp on the Pro Cinema up one number to be even closer overall, but I stuck with the one I thought should be closest in warmth originally.

Bottom Line on Out of the Box Picture Quality: The Pro Cinema 6050UB, just like its sibling does really impressive color, right out of the box.  While calibrating this projector is always a good idea - best picture, most folks will be thrilled with the basic out of the box performance

Skin Tones

Skin tone handling post calibration should be excellent.  As mentioned above I'm getting a touch more warmth, which shows up in faces, when I'm using the Pro Cinema 6050UB with the Home Cinema 5050UB's calibration settings.

Note, now that I've moved Projector Reviews to Florida, gone are my DirecTv DVRs, and with them 100% of all my favorite "HDTV and Sports" content.

I do invite you to visit the HC5050UB review's Picture Quality page.  Check out those images, including our Victoria Secret sequence showing the same model, in all picture modes.  Of those many modes, only Natural was taken post calibration, the rest are just "right out of the box!"

The images in the player above are all from the Pro Cinema 6050UB, unless the caption indicates the HC5050UB.  I've also noted which images from the PC6050UB are "out of the box" and which are using the HC5050UB's calibration settings.  The PC6050UB's skin tone images are mostly from 4K movies with HDR.

The Pro Cinema 050UB has 10 savable memories for picture (plus 2 more for ISF calibrators), so have fun. We normally set up only three of them with UB projectors.  In this case:

  • Natural for non-4K content
  • Natural for 4K content with HDR, and REC709 color, for a very bright image
  • Digital Cinema for 4K content with HDR and P3 color, for improved color, but with a drop in brightness.

Included in the player above also find our usual four 1080p images of Daniel Craig as Bond in Casino Royale.  But those are from the HC5050UB so expect similar.  The purpose here is to demonstrate to you that there is no one correct skin tone.  Every person’s skin tones look very different with different lightings such as full sunlight vs fluorescent lighting, cloudy days, and night lighting.  Those are the four environments for our Bond images.The remaining images - in the player - immediately below are all 4K with HDR and P3 color.  Those are all the Pro Cinema 6050UB.

The exception will be the Blacklist images (shown below) which are 4K and REC709 (but no HDR). That's how Netflix serves up a 4K The Blacklist (and many other shows) to 4K viewers.

Black Level Performance/Shadow Detail

As expected, the Pro Cinema 6050UB does great, very dark blacks.  Little has changed these past few years, Epson still rules when it comes to having deep black levels, at least until you spend a bit more for a JVC, or a whole lot more for a higher end Sony. Those do even better. I prefer the JVC's black levels, to learn more - check out Phil's review of the $10K DLA-NX7.

As I occasionally point out, there may not be a whole lot of difference in picture quality between a good $1500 and $5000 projector doing a typical daytime scene.  But the difference can be huge on really dark scenes.

Being that I am a chronic black level fanatic – one always looking for the projector that really shines when handling really dark scenes (not brightly lit city nightscapes), I can report that the black level performance of the PC6050UB and HC5050UB is a cut above - any projectors that cost the same or less, such s the. BenQ's new HT5550 (DLP) (which I do like for folks that can't afford the Epson UBs, as it also has a dynamic iris, and is a lot better than other under $3000 DLPs to date.  Still, it is no match for these Epsons.  Here's a link to a direct comparison between not this PC6050UB, but the HC5050UB vs the BenQ HT5550!

It’s true that when there’s more than very low ambient light present, that the differences when viewing two projectors with different contrast and black level performance, that the differences are noticeably diminished by the ambient light.

So, to simplify:  If you are going for a living room, media room, family room type of setup with less than perfect lighting control, you will not get the same extra bang for the bucks on really dark scenes, if you choose the PC6050UB instead of the less expensive PC4050.

However, if you are putting together the classic home theater/man cave, (make that “person cave or people cave”), with dark surfaces and great lighting control, I’ll always recommend spending the extra for the better black level performer, in this case because prices are reasonably close, and you should get a number of years enjoyment out of your new projector!

If your room is mixed - less than great control in the daytime, but really darken-able at night, then for that nighttime viewing you'll get the full extra benefit of the UB, even if you get a slighter benefit with some room ambient lighting.

The PC6050UB and HC5050UB should produce identical black level performance.  For that reason, I didn't reshoot the Bond "night train scene."  I did, however shoot the really dark images from MockingJay 1 with the PC6050UB.

The images in the first player are the usual black level / dark scene images.  I’ve included several, but then we have the intentionally overexposed (and greyscaled) “Bond night train scene” image from Casino Royale.

In general, exposures do vary, but you are looking for the image with the most pop – where the lightest parts of the image are extremely bright while the darkest parts are still very dark.  The letterbox below and above gives you an indication of how black those blacks are – relative to the whitest parts of the image (i.e., the train’s front light).

These two new Epson projectors, thanks to their dynamic iris, do a really good job, despite that many of the 4K UHD DLPs claim more native contrast. That’s because the native contrast differences aren’t really huge, and because the Epson has a dynamic iris to help lower black levels on those dark scenes.  We need to see more DLP projectors use dynamic irises, to improve their black levels.

I have mentioned the Acer VL7860 (an early 4K UHD laser projector) in other reviews, as the only DLP that’s 4K capable of the more than a dozen we’ve reviewed, that offers a dynamic iris, or more accurately,  has their laser light engine emulate a dynamic iris, which is something Sony does on their $39,999.99 native 4K laser projector).  That Acer, which sold for aa couple of grand more, has the best black levels of any of the DLPs we’re talking about, because of that “dynamic iris," with the new BenQ HT5550 (lamp based) not far behind.  Unfortunately lamp based projectors can’t really dim their lamps like an iris (many have tried. it's called Dynamic Black. The proboem is that lamp dimming  can’t lower blacks significantly because lamps dim and brighten too slowly!

When one tries to get the same range of a mechanical dynamic iris, by using lamp dimming, you’ll normally see very visible pumping of the image – as he image slowly brightens or dims to match the scene, but is usually playing catch-up, and is therefore very noticeable and distracting.  As a result, we typically don’t even recommend using the Dynamic Black feature found on most home DLP projectors be they 4K UHD or lower end.

Dark Shadow Detail

This section is partially "lifted" from the HC5050UB's review, I only removed the model name in order to "protect the innocent."  For you younger folks, that's a play on the famous old TV show Dragnet - perhaps you saw the newer movie with Dan Akroyd? 

"Only the names have been changed, to protect the innocent", was part of the opening, every week.

This Epson, like other Epson UB projectors, is especially good on dark shadow detail. With the Brightness setting adjusted just slightly, these Epson projectors will reveal virtually every bit of dark detail that exists in the content.  Any loss is likely due to the Brightness control not being fine enough (but very close.)

BTW, we don’t normally focus on white levels and crushing white detail, but this Epson is also very good. And these days, that’s noteworthy, because Eric, our calibrator, has been reporting (and we can see it), that a lot of the lower cost 4K capable projectors are crushing near white detail. They just can’t get there. That said, the most recent BenQ DLP to arrive isn't crushing as much as many previous models.

Bottom-line on dark shadow detail: Excellent!  On crushing near whites – very, very, good, but more to the point, a lot better than most of the similarly priced competition!

4K Movies (with HDR) BT.2020/P3 - DCI-P3 Color

(Here's another minor re-write of the HC5050UB's section, as I consider them identical for all practical purposes here too, except the possible slight optical performance advantage Epson attributes to quality control. But first, check out the two photos of the Crew Chief from Passengers.  The first one is the 6050UB, the 2nd the 5050UB.  You can see that extra red that the Home Cinema's calibration settinds did on the 6050UB.  On your display, colors are likely to be a bit oversaturated, which does magnify the differences. Here goes:

Almost every aspect of the picture of the Pro Cinema 6050UB also proves exceptionally good, when working highest quality content out there these days – 4K content with HDR, and DCI-P3 color (same as movie theaters),  True there are slightly sharper projectors, but when it comes to richness of the picture, and "bang for the buck" picture quality, the HC5050UB is, so far, at the top of my list at the price.

I usually give a slight edge to the more expensive Sony 4K projectors for naturalness of the picture.  That holds here. This Epson when doing it's sharpest 4K tends to be a touch hard looking compared to Sony's native 4K projectors.  Now I'm really getting picky when talking about this. Most folks won't notice,  especially since you likely won't get to compare projectors like I can in most cases.

Digital Cinema calibrated provides great color, (but it is still very good if a bit "cooler" before any calibration).

Remember you have a choice with the PC6050UB when watching 4K content with HDR.

The choice is simple go with more brightness, or P3 color.  It's noteworthy thaf if you opt for the over 2000 calibrated lumens mode, without P3 color, why that's more than any of the 4K UHD DLP competition can produce calibraated, even with higher overall brightness claims..  And most of the competition can't do color as well as this Epson, even when you aren't using the Cinema filter.The bottom line is that you will have a well-balanced picture with more pop and power or with less brightness, and a bit better color.  If you have a dedicated theater it's tough to beat... If a family room, you will be hard pressed to find anything that can compete at this price or less, on 4K HDR content, thanks to the addition of lots of brightness.

Now we just have to convince Epson to make their projectors smart, so we can just say something like, "Alexa, Set the Epson to Best mode" (or whatever name you choose for that mode). Or, you can just leave it as Digital Cinema... No worries, at least we have a remote!

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