The LG is typically sharp for 3 chip projector. Optics seem particularly good, and convergence is also very good, but not exceptional on this unit. You can get a sharper image with a sharp DLP projector, but not by much. My take, as I've expressed many times, is that the difference between a good "average" sharpness 1080p projector and one of the "sharper still" DLPs is barely noticeable when watching film-based movies, but you can appreciate the difference on high quality digital content like sports, including the Olympics, or the type of gorgeous content you see on channels like Discovery HD. Bottom line - it could be sharper, but, pretty sharp, nonetheless, and shouldn't be a deal breaker except for the most fanatical sharpness freaks. It certainly wouldn't be for me, and I've come from DLP's to, more recently two JVC LCoS projectors both comparable to the LG in sharpness.
Black Level Performance and Shadow Detail:
The LG CF181D is pretty much middle of the pack in terms of black levels, for a projector in the $2000 to $3500 range. It might be borderline "ultra-high contrast", but in reality, it doesn't quite rate that status. It may be comparable to the least of the ultra-high contrast projectors in performance, such as the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, but cannot match the Panasonic PT-AE4000, let alone the Epson UB projectors. It does, however beat out the Mitsubishi HC3800, the entry level projector with the best blacks. It falls about half way between the HC3800 and the Panasonic, overall. The BenQ W6000 should have the slight advantage in blacks. Still, the LG is a step down in blacks when compared to the Epson, and probably the Mitsubishi HC7000.
Still the LG produces blacks I believe I could live with. Even on the very dark scenes it does a decent job, even if a projector like the Epson would appear noticeably better on the same very dark scene. I couldn't say the same, for example, about the the Mitsubishi HC3800 or the Optoma HD8200 (without its iris engaged - but I found it's dynamic iris action to be annoying).
Shadow detail of the LG is very good. Comparable to pretty much everything else in the class. It has the slight edge in this regard, compared to the Epson, which has always been a touch weaker at dark shadow detail than the competition. Still, I don't consider the variation in shadow detail to be signifciant from one 1080p projector to the next.