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Optoma H78DC3 DLP Home Theater Projector: Image Quality

Posted on October 16, 2013 by Art Feierman

For the first sequence of images below, the Optoma projector was calibrated using the Avia Pro test suite, and the images are from Lord of the Rings (Return of the King) and Men in Black II). For the comparison images below them, I had not yet calibrated the projector. All together I shot over 200 images - over half, the side by sides - of the H78DC3compared against the BenQ PE7700 and theMarantz 12S4. (I can't do a 3 way, so first - compared to the BenQ, then to the Marantz). Most of the images selected are of dark scenes or include a great deal of shadow detail, as faithfully displaying the dark areas, is the biggest challenge for today's "fixed pixel" projectors.

The image of Gandalf above demonstrates excellent flesh tones and that the Optoma projector is handling the whites and near white datawithout "blowing out" the near whites, thus the details in his hair.

The H78DC3 home theater projector has three picture modes: Cinema (which I used), Normal, and Bright (menu option). (They are labeled differently in the manual.) Also I have shot the Optoma H78DC3 projector, in the Normal , not the Bright power mode (menu option). The Normal mode shows Brightness setting of 0, and same for contrast. By comparison, Cinema is +10 on Brightness, and -25 on contrast- interesting setttings. After calibrating it doesn't really matter which mode you use, the final settings are what counts. After calibration Brightness was still +10, and contrast, -23.

The dual projector images I am posting are 480 wide - about as wide as I can use with my site's layout. I realize they are still small, so you may have to put your nose close to the screen to see details. Later I hope to link to larger versions of the same image - at least on a select few images (huge file sizes).

Mount Doom (left) from Lord of the Rings. Shadow detail is excellent - far better than any of the HD2+ DLP projectors I have worked with, including my own BenQ PE8700+.

Overall, Image Quality of the Optoma H78DC3 is impressive, with performance far closer to the Marantz VP12S4 home theater projector than the BenQ PE7700 home theater projector. With one note - the greenish hue in the uncalibrated images.. After calibration, with new settings for R, G, B brightness, and R, G, and B contrast, fleshtones became excellent.

And that means that the H78DC3 projector - for those with sufficient budget, should easily be worth the approximate $1300-1600 selling price extra over the BenQ PE7700 home theater projector (as of this writing).

Although it is hard to see it online, the image on the left captures the full detail of Tommy Lee Jone's black suit in Men in Black. A close inspection shows details in the lapels, buttons, pockets and shadows cast across the suit.

Quicktip: Other notes: For these images from DVD, the DVD player is set to output interlaced. For Hi-Def, I'm using a component input from a JVC D-VHS deck. The screen used for the side by side, is the custom Stewart screen with matte white surface - it does 2 side by side 96" diagonal images. The images shot Mercedes - from Men in Black II on Optoma H78dc3 home theater projectorfrom my home are on a 128" Firehawk. So far I am very inclined to recommend the Firehawk or other high contrast (light) gray - or white surface. Unless you go with a small screen (92" diagonal max, but probably smaller, then you might want a Grayhawk (dark gray high contrast) as you may have too much brightness in a fully darkened room.

The image of Arwen from LOTR is natural looking - with good shadow detail, and no sense of over contrast.

Next, the image of Aragorn - from LOTR, in a more natural lighting setting, reflects the well done flesh tones.

In all side by side photos below, the Optoma H78DC3 projector is on the left!

Comparison Let's start with images from Star Wars Attack of the Clones:

Above you can see both home theater projectors (Optoma on left) in Cinema mode. As you can see, the Optoma H78 projector has far more stars in the starfield. The BenQ is crushing them. The BenQ, however does better in Home Theater mode, than Cinema mode, on this type of shot, so the image below, instead has the BenQ PE7700 projector in Home Theater mode. Even there, the Optoma displays more stars, and less distortion around the stars (I attribute this to the BenQ using contrast enhancement in the home theater mode.)

(Don't worry about the slightly greenish caste on the Optoma - that went away with the calibration.) Even with the BenQ projector in Home Theater mode, the Optoma projector does a better job.

Next, also from Star Wars - a view of the Jedi chamber. The first image is from the Optoma projector, the second, is the BenQ projector. Please look at the detail in dark areas, such as the trim around the top of the wall. The Optoma H78DC3 shows far more detail. (sorry - shot these images a bit dark)

Optoma H78DC3
BenQ PE7700

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