Projector Reviews

Mitsubishi HC3800 Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Unlike most of the home theater projectors hitting the market these days, the HC3800 projector lacks a dynamic iris to enhance black levels. Despite this, the black levels of the HC3800 are pretty good, just don’t expect them to match the more expensive ultra-high contrast projectors with their 30,000:1 or higher contrast ratios.

Yes, in your hunt for the “holy grail” of projectors – great black levels, you can spend a few hundred more for projectors with noticeably better black levels, but, at it’s price point, the HC3800 does really well. And, since the Mitsubishi HC3800 accomplishes this without a dynamic iris, which come with some minor baggage (such as image compression for less wow factor), and sometimes, visible iris action.

The HC3800 manages pretty good blacks without the dynamic iris, just don’t expect miracles. Pretty good, is still a long way from great, or exceptional, but “not bad at all” for a low cost projector. It is better than the lower cost Optoma HD20, but looks to be not quite as good as the new Epson Home Cinema 8100, a direct competitor.

I need to point this out – a doubling of contrast should provide a small, but recognizable improvement in black levels. Thus, you should see about the same improvement going from 2000:1 to 4000:1 (4000:1 is the HC3800’s off/on contrast claim), as going from 25,000:1 to 50,000:1 The HC3800 seems to have exceptionally high ansi contrast (based on a look, not a measurement, and this is probably why it delivers blacker blacks than some other similar DLP projectors without dynamic irises

For your consideration, side-by-side images, comparing the HC3800 to the Optoma HD20, the Samsung SP-A600 and the BenQ W6000. That covers a range of DLP projectors from about 25% less in price to double the price. In our first image, the Optoma HD20 ($999) is on the left. You can see that the HC3800 has little problem delivering blacker blacks (though the Optoma image is a touch brighter).

For the second image, the Samsung SP-A600 is on the left, the HC3800 on the right. Finally for the last image pair, note first, that the HC3800 is on the left side. In this case, it’s the HC3800 vs. the BenQ W6000 (almost exactly twice its price).