Projector Reviews

Mitsubishi HC9000D Projector – Image Quality-2

HC9000D Black Levels & Shadow Detail

There are a whole bunch of projectors over $3500 that have excellent black level performance. In fact, great black level performance is almost standard on projectors above that price (and a few, below it). Our take is by the time you get black levels this good (are they the “holy grail”?) most folks are very satisfied (though who will refuse blacker blacks, if all else is equal)?

That said the HC9000D is in good company. Almost all of the projectors I consider in this price and black level handling range, use a dynamic iris, to achieve best blacks on dark scenes. The only exception to this of the projectors we consider primary competition, are the three JVCs, with the two higher end ones offering a bit better blacks than any of the other projectors. The field I’m addressing includes this Mitsubishi, the JVCs, the two Sonys currently shipping, an Optoma, a Runco, and the Sharp.

Of all of those mentioned, only the two more expensive JVCs are likely able to produce blacks that are visibly darker than the HC9000D.

OK, let’s look at some real life, practical black level demonstrating images of the HC9000D, and some comparative images from many of the others:

First, slightly overexposed, the HC9000D, and immediately below, with similar exposure, the more expensive Sony VPL-VW90ES which uses the same SXRD panels.

Next we look at heavily overexposed images. The idea here is comparing black level performance. Easiest is to look a the relative brightness of the starship, compared to the brightness of the letterbox above and below.

If two images have the starships equally bright, but one has blacker blacks in the letterbox, that projector is the one with the better blacks. Alternately, and logically, (since the exposures do vary a bit), if two projectors have letterboxes equally black/gray, then the one with the brighter starship, has the better blacks. It’s that easy. The hard part are the minor brightness variations from one image to the next.

hc9000d 5thelement starship large
VPL-VW90ES 5thelement starship large
hc9000d 5thelement starship over large
VPL-VW90ES 5thelement starship over large
DLA-RS25 5thelement starship over large
XV-Z17000 5thelement starship over large
8700ub 5thelement starship over large
JVC DLA-RS15 5thelement starship over largeBW

For example, above, the RGB brightness of the letterbox on the Mitsubishi is about 3.3%. For the Sony, it’s about 3x as high, around 10% (of white). Conversely, the same area in the starship measures about 79% brightness on the HC9000, but about 87% brightness on the Sony. Do the math, and any way you slice it, in this dark image, both projectors have about the same black level performance. Of course, since both use dynamic irises, the results may be different on scenes that have more bright areas (only the smallest amount of this image has any real whites or near whites, it’s only the heavy overexposure that makes you think otherwise.

OK, let’s look at the JVC. Now, the RS25, predecessor to the $7500 RS40, has always had the best blacks around (along with its hand picked sibling, the RS35/RS60). Blacks are a bit brighter, but, the brightest areas are brighter – or are white.