Projector Reviews

HC5000BL Home Theater Projector Review – Image Quality-4

Mitsubishi HC5000BL home theater projector - Handling of Flesh tones

Time to get back on track. Normally I start with flesh tones (skin tones), as a projector that doesn’t provide realistic fleshtones, isn’t going to make most viewers happy.

So, I’m happy to report, that the HC5000BL does a very good job on flesh tones, right out of the box, without any calibration, and with minor adjustments, does extremely well.

Here are the usual suspect images, starting with Gandalf and Arwen. The Gandalf image was taken before any calibration. The other images – post calibration.

Overall, the flesh tone handling “out of the box” provides very reasonable fleshtones. Tweaking the projector slightly, such as using the settings listed in the Calibration section under General Performance does not bring about a radical improvement, but the improvement, nonetheless, is there and visible, and provides an even more pleasing result. Get yourself a calibration disk (less than $50), and invest an hour or so, to improve overall performance. (Or of course, even better – hire a professional calibrator who can take the calibration of the Mitsubishi HC5000BL to “the next level”).

HC5000BL Black Levels, Contrast and Shadow Detail

Let’s start first with contrast – once the “holy grail” of home theater projectors. Only CRT projectors can output pure black (that is, output nothing, when black is called for). As a result fixed pixel projectors (LCD, DLP, LCOS/SXRD), can only output medium dark to very dark grays, depending on how good they are. Technically, contrast provides a great measurement system for determining how close to black they can come, as contrast is the difference between the darkest the projector can produce, and the brightest – measure the “blacks” then measure white, and the ratio is your off/on contrast.

For the last three years, however, projector manufacturers have used additional technologies to improve black performance, and in most cases it results in very high contrast ratios. Unfortunately, many of those techniques only work some of the time, but the contrast ratio claimed is a fixed number. The two most common methods of enhancing black levels are to use a dynamic iris inside or behind the lens, that when closed, drops the brightness of every pixel. This works great in a scene where nothing is bright. the iris might drop the light output across the board, by 75% or more. To keep the brighter parts of the scene at appropriate brightness, the image is “equalized” you tell the near blacks to stay at their intensity, but the medium shades, the projector increases in brightness to offset the drop from the iris. The net result – blacker blacks, but still the same intensity brighter areas. Unfortunately, though, if a scene has some very bright areas – say full on white, or a full intensity red or other color, if the projector closes down the iris – part way or fully, that full white also darkens, there’s no way to keep it as bright as if the iris is open. Net result, the solution is effective part of the time.