PF85U Skin Tones
For the highly critical home theater projector enthusiast who demands excellent, accurate color, and the resulting great skin tones, the LG PF85U comes up a bit short. Very watchable, but hardly calibrated. Configuring the Expert 1 setting provided another good mode, but it didn't seem any more accurate than say Cinema.
Overall, skin tones are reasonably good. Even Vivid is tolerable (but it really isn't), but watching faces when I'm in sports mode, say football games and announcers, Standard still packs some punch and does decently on skin tones, although a bit cool overall, and skin tones a bit reddish - coming up short on yellow green
Cinema, like my final Expert 1, was a warmer image but still not really on the money. I guess that will take a full calibration.
Here's the good news: Although we didn't calibrate the LG, it does have a CMS to calibrate the individual colors and the ability to do a grayscale balance. The Expert settings, provide a great many options, which can result in a much improved picture compared to default settings. That said, we did not calibrate this projector's color, only adjusting the brightness and contrast, and bringing color saturation in line.
In other words if you were to calibrate the projector, you can probably get some excellent skin tones. Whether it can rival a pair of the best just under $1000 projectors, the BenQ W1070 and the Epson Home Cinema 2000, which can produce excellent color post calibration, I just can't tell you.
Black Level Performance and Dark Shadow Detail
I'm still waiting! For what you ask? How about a compact pocket projector with an LED light engine that produces some respectable black levels?
The LG's black level performance is pretty entry level. There's even a two setting Black Level control, with Low doing a better job than High. The first image above is using Low the second, High. Low's not bad, but High's rather dismal. That LG claims up to 100,000:1 contrast is a good reason h is why we ignore contrast claims and rate subjectively. I've seen projectors claiming 20,000:1 that are three magnitudes better. The LG looks like a typical projector claiming 5000:1 to 15,000:1
Dark shadow detail is respectable, and better after you adjust, but again, not up to the best under $2000 home projectors.
All considered, the projector does fine in an environment that it would normally be used in - a non theater type room - such as a den or living room, but one with limited ambient light, where black levels are already seriously compromised.
The images above are all from the PF85U except for the two extra Bond night train scenes, which we use for checking out both black levels (since its a very dark scene) and dark shadow detail (because it's on really dark scenes, where you notice if you are missing a lot of that detail.
You will be able to find better black levels and shadow detail on lamp based projectors in this price range, but the one or two that are dramatically better on black levels are not as good on shadow detail.
Considering the price of the projector - you are pretty much getting what you would expect for the dollars spent. Optoma has some lamp based projectors with much better black levels above and below the LG's price, but they are the only ones that come to mind as being a whole lot better, and I find those projectors typically too contrasty.