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LG CF181D Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Posted on February 20, 2010 by Art Feierman

LG CF181D Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Depending on the day of the week, sometimes I think the LG is a "ultra-high contrast" projector, other times not quite. All considered, it's on the cusp, but not quite there. It's not a match for the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, as you can see from the images. It also can't quite match the Panasonic PT-AE4000. With those being the only two ultra-high contrast projectors I have here for comparison, to better position the LG, I also put it side by side against the $1395 Mitsubishi HC3800, my favorite lower cost projector. The Mitsubishi can't quite match the blacks of the LG. Basically, I'll place the LG about half way between the HC3800 (which has the best overall black performance of any entry level projector under $1500).

When I was being particularly critical when watching in my main theater, filling the 128" Firehawk G3 screen, and with the room in "cave" mode, the blacks were "respectable". Sure, no match for the JVC's or Epson's blacks, but paired with a high contrast gray screen, when I hit a lot of my favorite dark scenes, the LG did have respectable blacks. I could live with them on those darkest screens, though I, personally will always want blacker blacks still. The Mitsubishi HC3800, on the other hand, although it easily bests most other projectors in its lower price range, on those same scenes, is just too flat - those blacks cry out to be blacker.

Image time: We start with the starship image from The Fifth Element. The first photo is way overexposed to show the blacks in the letterbox as dark gray. As you can see, to lift the blacks that much, the starship itself is terribly overexposed. In the image immediately below that, you are still looking at the same image, but only slightly overexposed.

The over large image from 5thelement starship in LG_CF181D

The large image from 5thelement starship in LG_CF181D
The image from the almost 3x the price JVC DLA-RS25 (the image is a touch less bright, so less stars are visible in the photo)
The Panasonic PT-AE4000, which, overall is a touch better overall, but it varies by scene, since they both use dynamic irises
comparing the LG CF181D (left) to the Epson 8500UB/9500UB (right) in large
comparing the LG CF181D (left) to the Epson 8500UB/9500UB (right) in over large

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