Noise Showing Up in Skin Tones
Let's look at the images above after you click in the upper right hand corner to expand them. The first two images in the player are side by side comparisons with the Epson Home Cinema 2030 - which should look the same as the Epson Home Cinema 2000. The Optoma's on the left. There are various differences, but in general you can see the more contrasty look. Since side by side images are inherently lower res (per projector), it's not that easy to see.
But, the next three images do tell a story. All are the same basic scene from The Hunger Games, with a close-up on Jennifer Lawrence in her chariot, doing her "Girl on Fire" thing.
The first of the three photos is the closeup of her face with the HD131Xe set for Reference mode, the least bright, with the least Brilliant Color, of the projector's modes. The next version is same frame, but in Bright mode. Notice how dramatically more visible and darker the noise is on her left cheek (and elsewhere). So, while it's worse with Brilliant Color at maximum, the issue is there at lower Brilliant Color settings as well.
That brings us to our last image, which is another side by side. The left side, is the more expensive HD25-LV (about $500 more), vs. the Optoma W1080ST, which is a short throw version of the BenQ W1070. Even in this side by side, you can see that the BenQ has noticeably less noise and flattening of the colors in her face.
Whether there's a direct trade-off between the better blacks of these Optoma projectors compared to the Epson and BenQ which can't match the Optoma's blacks, and the increased, and visible image noise, is uncertain, but ultimately the Optomas do better blacks and have more trouble with smooth, natural skin tones, due to the noise.
Note that these are still images. This noise is less evident than you see here, when you are watching the scene with its normal motion. This is a case where the paused image makes the flaw far more noticeable.
Bottom line on image noise: Overall reasonably good, and especially good on slow panning, but too much noise in faces, especially with Brilliant Color cranked up. Will the average consumer notice? I really don't think so, not even on the Jennifer Lawrence close up, but it might drive some enthusiast's a bit crazy! Well, that's my 2 cents!