HDTV and Sports
Not everyone cares about TV viewing with an expensive projector, there are lots of pure movie fanatics buying or already owning projectors. But, for many of us, movies are just part of what we watch. I'm one of those. Football, awards programs, Blacklist, HGTV, the list is long.
First of all, the LS10000 is by our definition a basic light canon - it exceeds 1500 lumens at brightest, and came up just shy of 1300 when calibrated. That means it can tackle some ambient light in the room when you're having friends over for a sporting event. In my theater, with its dark surfaces, I can let in a significant amount of light with my shutters part open, and my rear down facing lighting turned on (7 led lights).
Dynamic is pumped up, and cuts through ambient light very nicely, even adjusting it for better color with Mike's "quick-cal" still keeps it bright, and great for sports, even if the color isn't really great. With THX mode, even calibrated, still reasonably bright, I find that I've been watching in the daytime, my football with Dynamic on, but late in the day, or evening (say for Monday night football) with limited light through my windows, I find the calibrated THX mode still has plenty of power, and great color.
For most HDTV viewing other than sports I've pretty much kept my viewing to the calibrated THX mode, and have been most pleased.
When you look at the very small text around the multiple football images on NFL Game Mix, you can see the effect of 4K-3 processing with pixel shifting, that tiny text isn't really smooth, but I can say, that it makes it far more readable from normal viewing distances, which is to say, I can read that small content from 8-10 feet back from a 100 inch screen, whereas some of it would not be readable, say, using the Epson 5030UB that I have here.
Everything looks sharp, the colors, are vibrant, sports look great, and, so do the Victoria Secret models, even though we're starting, in all cases, with merely 1080i resolution.
Of course we have no 4K HDTV content to show you, next year, perhaps!
Bottom line on HDTV and sports - pretty awesome. Since sports is more "lights on" I guess I could complain that the projector could be brighter still, but with the LS10000 measuring over 1500 lumens - after Mike's improvement of Dynamic, it has "the power." Again, the picture is vibrant, sometimes it surprises me. Is that something to do with the lasers? I have no idea, but last night, watching the Cardinals/Chargers football game, I was blown away with the red shirts of the Cardinals, and their staff.
This projector doing sports reminds me of what I like about DLP projectors on dark scenes - lots of pop, without being over the top. That's hard to beat.
Bottom Line: Overall Picture Quality
The first five images above are true 4k content from the RedRay player I have here. The rest are either HDTV, or from Blu-ray movies.
How does the Epson Pro Cinema LS10000 stack up when it comes to overall picture quality? Color handling is excellent. Post calibration on this engineering sample isn't the most flawless calibration we've seen, there have been better, but it's very close. It will be interesting to see if full production LS10000s can be calibrated even better, but the color is great.
I particularly love the last image in the sequence - just a normal 1080p image from Harry Potter (Order of the Phoenix), of Dumbledore. Rich colors (DLP like) on a very dark scene. Excellent!
Ultimately the pictures do tell the story, it's just a shame that they aren't even remotely a match for what you see on the screen. Still, the combination of color, dynamics and clarity is truly impressive.
Mike did a great job, I say that not because of the level of calibration accuracy, but because laser projectors, at least and perhaps some other solid state light engine projectors do have larger color gamuts, which, I tend to think, makes a mere REC709 calibration a bit different than lamp based projectors. That is, getting the best out of a laser projector may require a little more "tweaking" perhaps than the automatic calibration tools most calibrators use. I would have loved to have some DCI content - the same as in the theaters, to really see what this projector can do at its best.
Keep that in mind, at this point, the projector's color range capabilities exceed that of the material its being fed. A good Blu-ray disc hardly fits the concept of "garbage in, garbage out, but the same content in DCI format on this projector, should be visibly more stunning!
I've fiddled slightly with Mike's THX settings, adding 1 to red, here, reducing green 1 there, and I liked my changes better on most content, but we're really talking about barely perceptible differences. I have no idea if my very slight changes would produce a tighter, or less tight calibration (probably less), but at the end of all things, its what looks best to us.
So what is the bottom line? As sharp a picture as you will see short of a true 4K resolution projector. Rich colors, with good pop - a dynamic feel to them, without being over the top. Very good accuracy, with a full production version potentially better?
One caveat, we're talking about extremely good black level performance, but, I need to comment on Epson's claim of essentially perfect contrast. Epson's point, in its brochure is that when the content is a black frame, the light engine is simply turned off. That creates On/Off infinite contrast (divide by zero). Such scenes do happen, sometimes between scenes in a movie, or in credits at the end, but its really rare to have a pure black image. The reality, is that if there's just a pixel or two on, even at near black levels, the light engine is on, and the black level performance becomes what we describe - extremely good, but not up to the very best!
All considered though, it's great to watch. Only the Sony VW600 of any projector I've had here in the last year, (at almost twice the price) can match or beat it at color and sharpness, and I think the Epson will do better blacks on dark scenes than the VW600ES, which wasn't much better than their HW55ES or Epson's 5030UB. The last JVCs in here beat it at black level performance. Still, like Sony's VW600ES, it has achieved black level performance that's darn good, so that other factors become more important than further black level improvements.
Best I can tell, the Epson's done a slightly better job on pixel shifting for better perceived sharpness, on 1080 content, and also a touch better on true 4K content that that JVC. As I said elsewhere, that's my perception, I really need to do a comparison, it's certainly a close content. JVC has always struggled a bit with 3D, whereas this Epson does a really excellent job with 3D content.
Great picture! Can full production versions be better? Probably, if in no other area, due to the inherent pixel mis-alignment of this projector which is greater than one would expect on a production projector, should lead to an even sharper looking image.