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Projector: Black Levels and Shadow Detail

Posted on October 11, 2013 by Art Feierman

Black Levels

Whoa! This spring when the JVC RS1 came out, it was an overnight sensation. Part of its success was excellent overall performance out of the box, but what set it apart were its industry leading black levels. Not only were there no other under $10,000 home theater projectors that could match it, and really only one or two could even be considered competition (and not that close), most notably the Sony VW50 Pearl. The Sony though, relied on the usual dynamic iris and electronic compensation, whereas the JVC does it naturally. Even then, the Sony at its best in very dark scenes, couldn't quite match the JVC, and in scenes with some bright areas, fell even further short.

So, here comes the JVC DLA-RS2, and it's even better, and it is immediately visibly better, as I have ascertained, switching back and forth between my RS1 and this RS2.

"Blacks" are closer to true black than any other projector I have seen, except for CRT projectors (which essentially produce pure black, but otherwise are a pain in the ...), and that includes 3 chip DLP projectors costing ten times as much, or more.

Watching the RS2 filling just about every inch of my 128" diagonal Stewart Firehawk screen, the blacks were extremely dark, with a neutral "inky" kind of black, with no trace of a dominent color (such as the VW60 whose blacks tend to have a blue caste).

Below is the most impressive image I captured, the starship in The Fifth Element. Not only did the blacks really look black, but the star field was loaded with more stars at normal exposure than I have seen before on any projector. The image below is just a little overexposed, so that you can see most of the stars (normal exposure takes its toll of near black detail). I've got even more overexposed images that reveal even more stars, but felt it was not needed. Remember loss of that detail is due to the limitations of my dSLR, not the projector.

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