Projector Reviews

LG PF85U LED Projector Review – Picture Quality

PF85U PROJECTOR – PICTURE QUALITY:  Out of the Box Picture, Skin Tones, Black Levels and Shadow Detail

PF85U Out of the Box Picture Quality

The PF85U offers up four default modes – Vivid, Standard, Cinema, and Game.   In addition it has a wizard to configure Expert 1 and Expert 2.   Please note, the Wizard handles “calibrating” some basic things, but in its own right is not a proper calibration feature.  The LG PF85U, though does have the necessary controls to do a real color calibration if one of the Expert modes is selected.  This sequence of images show the four modes and my settings for Expert 1.  My Expert 1, though was just using the wizard.  With a proper calibration there’s no reason to expect less than really very good color.

Remember than in Expert 1 or 2, you can call up both grayscale (RGB) controls and a full CMS to calibrate the individual primary and secondary colors.

As you would expect, the four modes differ greatly.  It’s nice to report that while just a bit strong on greens, etc. (typical) even Vivid mode does a respectable job on pure reds and yellows, something almost no lamp based DLP projectors can claim in their brightest modes.

Overall, none of the modes is especially accurate color wise, but you’ll find Standard to be a good all around mode, Cinema, a bit more movie like (lower color temp), and Vivid when you need it.  The images in order, are Vivid, Standard, Cinema, and Game.

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.

Entry level!