Projector Reviews Images

Optoma HD25-LV Projector - Image Quality 3

Posted on July 10, 2013 by Art Feierman

Our primary look at black level performance is the Starship image from The Fifth Element. All the images are at least a good bit overexposed. This allows you to get a better handle on the black levels.A lot of bright stars in its own right may just reflect gamma differences. It’s the blacks you want to be watching).

Note that the letterbox area of the HD25-LV image immediately below, is a very dark gray. If the letterbox areas are the same brightness on two different projector’s starship images, then the one with the most overexposed starship is the one with the better black levels on this, and similar scenes. Well, this starship is a good bit overexposed, indicating some pretty decent black level performance, especially for the price.

Further down on the list of images is the $2600 Epson with exceptional blacks, note how incredibly overxposed the starship looks there.

Top under $3000 projector for blacks – Epson HC5020 UB projector (compared to these others, the starship is a lot brighter, and the lettterbox at least as dark).  And that’s not mentioning the obviously greater “pop” to the image.  No contest – at all, but then it’s 2x the price.

Here’s the Optoma HD33, Optoma’s first lower cost 3D projector with 1080p resolution.  It’s definitely not up to the HD25-LV’s abilities:

Acer H9500BD:  (Best black levels we’ve seen that sells for well under $2000) The Acer is just a touch less overexposed, but the blacks there are very black (I should have overxposed the Acer image a little more).  The Acer looks like better blacks, but at least the HD25-LV is giving it a game, something few others can do.  BTW, the Acer has the same no savable User mode issue – another “rough around the edges.”

Panasonic PT-AR100U – (Panasonic’s $1199 light canon of a 2D projector)  Blacks are not going to match the HD25-LV.  Definitely less pop, but still a bit above the most entry level.

Mitsubishi HC4000. This projector always had pretty decent blacks considering it has no form of dynamic iris or dynamic lamp dimming:

Vivitek H1080FD ($899):  Blacks here are coming up a bit short compared with the HD25-LV projector.

Overall, the Optoma HD25-LV’s black levels are definitely above entry level.  While I don’t think it quite makes it to what we call “ultra-high contrast” around here, I’ll concede that it’s close.  You might find other reasons for not buying this projector, but for the price, black level performance is not one of those reasons.

Shadow Detail Performance

Pretty good, not exceptional.  Let's take a closer look starting with our Bond "night train" scene.

Shadow Detail Comparison

Optoma HD25-LV
Optoma HD23
Optoma HD33
Viewsonic Pro8200
Panasonic PT-AR100U
Epson Home Cinema 8350
Epson Home Cinema 3020






Optoma HD23 - Note that the HD23 might just reveal a touch more dark shadow detail (lower left, above the tracks, and in the woods), but has far less pop to dark scenes like this, compared with the HD25-LV projector.  Attribute that to the '25's superior blacks.


Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: HD25-LV Projector - Bottom Line

Blacks are very good, great for a home entertainment projector.  Give the Optoma an "A"- considering its price.  Handling of dark shadow detail is very good, although not exceptional, really fairly average at the price point, and easily improved upon.  But do remember that it seems easier for projecors with mediocre blacks to do better on dark shadow detail.  All considered, the one/two combination is one of the best in the class.

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