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Mitsubishi HC4900, 1080p Home Theater Projector Review - Image Quality-2

Posted on August 19, 2007 by Art Feierman

Mitsubishi HC4900 Black Levels and Shadow Detail

If handling skin tones is a particular strength of Mitsubishi's HC4900 home theater projector, then black levels are its weakness.

From the first moment I had hooked up the HC4900 in my viewing room, I realized that the black levels were no match for most of the competition. In your environment, choice of the right screen, however, can really help. The gamma settings, though, on the HC4900 are excellent. While any shadow detail - "information,"- below the dark grays that represent black, are lost, detail is very good on information just above the threshold.

Click Image to Enlarge

Space Cowboys, on HD-DVD. you will get a large version, normally exposed. You can make out the space shuttle's trail in the lower center. Detail in the dark areas to the right, however are lost, in part due to camera limitations. The second, identical, thumbnail (right) will show you the same large image, but this time significantly overexposed, so you can see what detail the projector actually reproduced. Performance is OK on this same, but hardly great. You can find similar images on most reviews done since early 2007.

The Fifth Element (SD-DVD). This image of the starship does not produce a nice, really dark deep space, but, despite that the star count is very good, some other projectors, including some with visibly better black levels, still manage to show less stars in the image, although the best, show even more.

Aeon Flux (Blu-Ray) has an excellent scene - of this table. The counter is almost black but has texture, and the image overall, is a good test of the combination of black levels and shadow detail. Note the shadows cast on the table by the various plates and other objects:

Here's another scene from Aeon Flux. it's a very dark scene, and I wanted to comment, that while the blacks weren't as black as I would have liked, overall, the scene looked very good on my high contrast gray Stewart Firehawk when filling the entire screen:

Sin City (SD-DVD) is an especially dark movie, which tends to test projectors pretty hard. Here is a night image. While overall, the image looks very good. Details are definitely lost in very dark areas, such as the pavement underneath the back of the car, which shows more texture on projectors with darker black levels:

From Space Cowboys, the satellite. Again, good starfield, but blacks just aren't the "rich, inky blacks" that are ideal.

Shadow Detail Comparison

HC4900 Large
HC4900 Overexposed

 

 

 

 

The first version is normally exposed, the second one, overexposed to show what shadow detail the projector captures in the dark areas in the shed, and along the bottom.

As I mentioned earlier shadow detail is especially good for a projector with the HC4900's black levels. You can make out detail in the wood posts, that many projectors with better blacks, just can't deliver.

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