Mitsubishi HC6000 Black Levels and Shadow Detail
I am truly impressed. If anything the HC6000 is the opposite of the HC4900 I reviewed just six weeks ago. The HC4900 is economy version, costing significantly less, but, at the same time, offering rather mediocre black levels, more reminiscent of low cost 720p projectors than typical 1080p projectors.
Not so the HC6000. Black level performance is excellent. Now Mitsubishi uses a new improved auto iris, which apparently works very, very well, because in many hours of normal viewing, the auto iris was never something I noticed. You really have to be looking for it, on the right type of lighting changes. As a result, I definitely recommend using the auto iris. Between it, and other improvements, the Mitsubishi HC6000 offers black level performance rivaling most of the DLP projectors. That, by the way, creates a significant shift in projector performance dynamics, since black levels has been one area where DLP's have always had a strong advantage over LCD projectors like the older HC5000.
The images above, all from Blu-ray disk, are, from top to bottom, from Space Cowboys, Aeon Flux, Planet Earth, and Aeon Flux.
While the HC6000 cannot match the best projectors out there - JVC's RS1, and Sony's VW50 Pearl, in terms of black levels, the blacks are pretty dark, as quickly noted by the letterbox areas when watching movies. Commonly used terms that might describe the HC6000's black level performance, would be to refer to the projector as having inky, or rich blacks. Mitsubishi, by the way attributes the significant improvement primarily to the much faster, and better Auto Iris.
When it comes to shadow details, an area of performance that is related to black levels, I found, again, that the HC6000 is extremely capable. I did find some loss of detail in very dark areas, a bit of black crush, but was able to easily offset that by setting up a custom user gamma (simple to do) where I tried several workable settings, the basic, being setting the low range (you can adjust low, middle and bright ranges separately) to +1, leaving mid and bright at 0. More extreme, I tried +2 in the low range, and +1 in mid, 0 in high, which really was excellent. I would guess that technically, I was lifting the gamma a little to much. Still, it provided very impressive blacks, and plenty of detail in both the dark and mid ranges. The images here were all photographed with the +2, +1, 0 gamma setting.
I'll start off with a slightly overexposed photo of the same Aeon Flux image seen immediately above. With the overexposed version you can see additional detail in dark areas that is lost by the camera with the normal exposure. I have also left in some of the letterbox at top and bottom to reference the darkest black possible.