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Optoma HD33 Projector - Image Quality 2

Posted on July 11, 2013 by Art Feierman

Optoma HD33 Black Levels & Shadow Detail

HD33 Black Level Performance is entry level. Optoma claims a 4000:1 contrast ratio and by today's standards, that's near the bottom of the food chain. Black level performance is ok. the HD33 can't compete, at all, when it comes to black levels, with a few similar and lower priced 2D only projectors. I'm thinking of the Mitsubishi HC4000 and the Epson 8350, for openers.

I didn't do any side by side photo shoots with the HD33 projector. Sorry about that. I still have it as I write this, so perhaps a direct competitor will arrive before I have to return this Optoma.

Let's look at the Starship image from The Fifth Element. All the images are a good bit overexposed. This allows you to get a better handle on the black levels. If the starship's brightness is about the same, from image to image, then the projector with the blackest blacks in the letterbox and stars background, is the one with the blacker black performance. (A lot of bright stars in its own right may just reflect gamma differences. It's the blacks you want to be watching.

You'll note that the letterbox area of the HD33 image immediately below, is already a medium dark gray. If you compare to the others, about the only one that looks worse (in terms of blacks) is the old Optoma HD20, as most of the others have a definite advantage.


BenQ W1200
Viewsonic Pro8200 projector:
Mitsubishi HC4000
Sony VPL-HW15 (LCoS projector under $3K)
Vivitek H1080FD ($899)
Optoma W6000, Optoma's next step up, with better black levels.
Optoma HD20:

Shadow Detail Performance

Our primary comparison image is the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Optoma, followed by the BenQ W1200, Viewsonic Pro8200, the HC4000, the BenQ W6000, then Sony VPL-HW15, the Sharp XV-Z15000.

All considered, the HD33 shadow detail is pretty good, not stellar. Reminds me of the slight loss of the darkest shadow detail, that I liked to complain about with the Epson projectors. That is to say, the Optoma HD33 projector is definitely loosing a touch more in the dark shrubs by the track, than a few direct competitors, but we're really quibbling here.


Optoma HD33
BenQ W1200
Viewsonic Pro8200
BenQ W6000
Sony VPL-HW15
Sharp XV-Z15000

Black Level and Shadow Detail Performance: HD33 Projector - Bottom Line

Black level performance is what keeps the HD33 to entry level performance in 2D. Otherwise, all it's nice features like CFI would elevate it a bit. Shadow detail is just fine.

If you are running the HD33 in a nice bonus room, or family room where walls aren't real dark, you likely won't notice or mind the difference between the HD33 projector and those with better blacks, due to conditions. It's when you get into a nice theater type room where you really can appreciate much better blacks on dark scenes, that the HD33 falls short.

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