The image above, from Lord of the Rings (DVD) is normally exposed, and the same frame below, slightly overexposed, so you can see the details in the shadow areas along the bottom and the right side. You'll find these images in most recent reviews.
In the side-by-side image below, with the Samsung on the left and the HC5000BL on the right, look at the dark areas in the lower left of the screen. This is where you simply see a little more information (shadow detail) on the Samsung. (click to enlarge)
Immediately below (also from Phantom on HD-DVD) is a side by side comparing the HC5000BL to Sanyo's equally brand new PLV-Z5. The HC5000 is on the left. As noted above, the Sanyo uses both a dynamic iris and dynamic lamp dimming, and claims a slightly higher contrast ratio (11,000:1). Since there are no very bright areas, all that technology gets to work, and both projectors do a similar job in terms of shadow detail, with some dark colors being just the tiniest bit more visible on the HC5000BL (such as in her hair). Look close, and you'll also see the slight difference in sharpness thanks to the HC5000BL's 1080p resolution, especially in the folds of Christine's cape, and in her dress.
HC5000BL Color Handling
Pretty impressive out of the box. I did most of my "work" in Cinema mode, and started with User color temperature, as it actually had settings in there (possibly since this is a review sample). I also switched from User, to Warm Color Temp and Medium color Temp. I should note that the warm setting, which I would expect to be 6500K - ideal for movies, was actually a bit too warm, and the Medium setting slightly less too cool. However both were close enough to render very, very good color out of the box. There was just the tiniest bit of too much green, but barely noticeable. With a basic color temp calibration I came up with settings in between the two (warm / medium), and almost ideal color temp settings.
Color balance was pretty consistent from low grays to bright white, better than most. The color settings I mention in the calibration setting further improved the evenness of color handling from dark to light. As I mentioned earlier, the HC5000BL image is well saturated, providing a feeling of depth.
The bottom line is that the HC5000BL really does a great job on color, out of the box, but you can improve upon it.
The image above, from Starship Troopers (standard DVD) (click to enlarge), gives you a good feel for the richness of colors. Those of you looking to compare this with similar images on older reviews, please note; this is one frame earlier in the movie, and the structures of the ship are in the dark, in the other frame they are well lit.
Overall, I was very pleased with the image quality of the HC5000BL 1080p home theater projector. Its performance was comparable or better than just about any LCD based 720p projector, in image quality areas, except for brightness. We'll see how it stacks up with the other new 1080p LCD projectors as they come in for review. Then of course there are future 1080p DLP projectors, although the only affordable one shipping so far is Optoma's HD81 (very impressive at CEDIA), which appears to sell for about $2000 more, and the slightly more expensive $4995 Sony VPL-VW50 an LCOS 1080p projector.
Let's move on to General Performance aspects of the HC5000BL.