Overall, the Mitsubishi HC1500 impressed me with better than expected shadow detail. Although slight, it proves to be better than the Panasonic PT-AX100U, and I suspect it to be better than the Optoma HD72, although I didn't have that one around for direct comparsion to the HD1000U or the HC1500. When I wrote the original HD1000U review, it was before I had obtained an Optoma HD70 for review. Of course, the HD70 has long been reviewed, and I give the advantage in black levels to the HC1500!
Since I had the Panasonic here when I started the review of the old HD1000U, I played around and have come up with some images to reveal how the two projectors stack up in terms of black levels on scenes with and without bright areas.
In summary, black levels overall were suprisingly good relative to the claimed contrast spec, and very good relative to what would be expected for a good DLP projector without fancy irises, etc. The HC1500 uses a seven segment color wheel, adding a "white" filter (clear). This allows for extra brightness that is reflected in the HC1500's performance. It also doesn't help black levels at all.
That said, the Mitsubishi should match the black levels of the very popular and bright (one of my favorites) Optoma HD72, which is more money, but is also the projector most similar to the HC1500 in design and performance. (The Mitsubishi is the brighter of the two as well).
Comparing to the new Panasonic LCD PT-AX100U, in terms of black levels. As noted, the Panasonic uses AI and a dynamic iris. As a result, the Panasonic, on scenes without really bright areas, does reduce black levels well below the HC1500. On scenes with lots of dark areas, but with some bright spots, the two are almost identical, with my best estimate being that the HC1500 has a slight edge.
Want to further enhance the black levels of the HC1500? Match it with a high contrast gray or high contrast light gray surface, such as the Stewart Firehawk, that I use, or less expensive screens like Elite's ezFrame high contrast gray, Da-lites HC Da-Mat, Elite's CinemaTension HC gray, etc.
Please note, this next section is more than 90% of you want to know, but to keep the other 10% happy, here goes:
HD1000 home theater projector vs PT-AX100U home theater projector - black level comparison on scenes with and without bright areas:
In the image above, with the projectors receving a frame that is supposed to be fully black, with no areas with anything but black, you can see easily that the Mitsubishi HD1000U projector on the left, puts more light on the screen than the Panasonic, on the right. The image is slightly overexposed so that you can see these near fully dark "blacks". The Panasonic projector and the Mitsubishi projector in the modes (cinema) they were in for this shot, are nearly identical in brightness, so that would not be a factor here.