Epson Pro Cinema LS10500 Projector Review – Picture Quality

PRO CINEMA LS10500 LASER PROJECTOR – PICTURE QUALITY:  Out of the Box Picture, Skin Tones, Black Level Performance, Black Level Comparison

Pro Cinema LS10500 Out of the Box Picture Quality

Here’s one small change between the older Epson and the Pro Cinema LS10500:  Epson has changed the names of a number of modes. Gone for example is THX mode, new is Digital Cinema…

Eric found some modes to be well on the cool side.  But the projector calibrates “brilliantly.”  I’m most pleased with the results in both 1080, and 4K.  This time around, Eric got a good handle on calibrating the 4K / HDR, with very good success.

Dynamic mode – the brightest, still looks a lot like one would expect a lamp based projector to look:  A bit strong in yellow and greens.  Still there’s a bit less green yellow than we often seewe’re working with dual blue lasers.   Like Dynamic modes on the Epson 5040UB/6040UB, you can correct a good deal of that shift away, without sacrificing too many lumens.  Dynamic also has other settings “punched up,” for example, the image seems like its default color saturation is a lot higher to cut through ambient light.

Eric did a  “quick-cal” of Dynamic in order to tame the greens (and yellows) the color a bit, providing a much better looking image especially for my sports viewing.

Skin Tones

Overall skin tones were pretty much excellent, but post calibration is a lot better than “out of the box” unadjusted.  In this player, you’ll find the same three images as in the image player at the top of the page, but below each of the originals is the same mode post calibration. (The order is Dynamic, Dynamic with a “quick cal”, Cinema, Cinema calibrated, Digital Cinema, Digital Cinema calibrated.  Plus additional images showing skin tone quality.  Of course all projected scenes do look much better in real life than in these photos.  Color accuracy is still a touch better on 1080p than 4K HDR content, but really very close.  After the early struggles with 4K HDR content previously, this was a relief to see great color in 4K HDR.  Only the last two images in the player above are from 4K HDR BT2020 content, the rest is 1080 or 720 res, REC 709.

More to the point, skin tones were what I expected.  They looked natural (a little less so with heavy processing engaged, of course).  If there was anything to note, it’s that skin tones in darker scenes look a touch more on the money than very bright scenes.  Still, people in “day in the park” type scenes still look great.

I’ve included the usual Daniel Craig as Bond in Casino Royale pictures, to illustrate that skin tones vary greatly with different types of scene lighting (filtered sunlight, full sun, night, and fluorescent lit).  The Bond skin tones look very different from one picture to the next. The question is, do they look right in their setting.

Black Level Performance

The Pro Cinema LS10500, like its predecessor, has the deepest black levels I’ve seen from Epson.  No surprise there.  It’s a step up from Epson’s less expensive UB series, which set the standard for lower cost (now as low as $2699 for the 5040UB) projectors years ago with only JVC besting those UBs, but the least expensive JVC is $3995.

I do not believe that this Epson is a match for the projectors with the very best black levels out there.  I’m talking about the $7000 and $19000 lamp based JVCs, they remain the champs, but, that said, the black level performance is better than the Sony HW65ES, and even Sony’s $15K VW665ES true 4K machine, and really the next best behind those two JVCs.

I’ll give the Epson the slight edge in black level performance when compared with Sony’s new $24,999 VPL-VZ1000ES ultra short throw 4K projector.  That said, they are sufficiently close enough for the difference to be not significant.  Of course the Sony, ideally, pairs with a light rejecting UST screen to be pretty bullet proof in brighter rooms.  The Epson needs that home theater environment for best black levels.

“Great black levels are the “holy grail” of home theater performance.”  That’s the difference between good $2000 projectors (or good $5000, or $25,000 projectors…) and great ones.  But I’ve also said that once black levels achieve a certain level of excellence, while even better is always desirable, that’s the point where other aspects of the projector become more important than further black level improvement.  Thus, the LS10500 could be better at black levels, but, think this way folks, the LS10500 does a far better job than your local Cineplex!!!

Black Levels Comparison

The sequence of images above from the Bond night train scene.  Note that the first image is the Epson LS10500, each comparison image has the projector model in the upper right hand corner.  If you click to enlarge, you can quickly click to go between any image and the first one (or each other) by clicking on the thumbnail of which ever one you want to view next.  The more overexposed the image, relative to the darkest areas, the better the black level performance.  The Epson’s performance is excellent.  Again, I consider the black levels as good as, or a touch better than Sony’s ($25K) VZ1000ES (an image will be added after we do that projector’s photo shoot this week), and their ($15K) VW665ES. And those two JVCs have a modest advantage on black.  My point is the Epson does great, but there are projectors a bit better.

I did not shot Hunger Games scenes from standard Blu-ray.  The sequence of images of Katniss and Rue sleeping, lacks an LS10500 image, but the first one is the older LS10000.  Nothing in the changes to the LS10500 would cause different performance in dark shadow detail of normal 1080p content, so consider the LS10500 capable of the exact same black level, and  dark shadow detail performance.

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