Posted on December 11, 2017 By Art Feierman
Optoma UHD60 Review and Comparison to UHD65 – Picture Quality 2: 4K Content, Black Level Performance, Dark Shadow Detail, Overall Picture Quality
Very nicely bright – no question about that. This image player has UHD60 images and also pairs of stacked images (the UHD60 is on the bottom, the UHD65 on the top), from Passengers, Ghostbusters, The Great Wall… Again I must point out that the two projectors are very similar. Of greater note, the UHD60 is brighter than competing 3LCD projectors when doing 4K, and that’s definitely a plus. No dimness here on some of the mid-dark scenes, that I might be pointing out on the Epson 5040UB (although less so on their HC4000).
UHD60 on the bottom. Look carefully at the brightest balloons, you'll see differences in the apparent saturation, richness. It's more visible in real life.
Still, none of the projectors on the market get close to the called for 1000 NITS brightness for HDR, at least not at 100” diagonal screen sizes. That forces all projector manufacturers to make some compromises. Each company seems to do that differently.
Epson, for example, with their HC5040UB tries to provide as much high dynamic range, resulting in my complaints that some scenes are a bit too dim.
Optoma takes what might be the opposite approach. Their compromise maintains brightness in the mid and lower ranges more than the Epson. End result – no dimness, but also a picture that seems brighter, but a bit less dynamic. Ah, there are always trade-offs.
As to the two Optomas on 4K content, I would put it this way: Similar enough. The Optoma UHD60 will come across slightly brighter, but with some bright pure colors coming across a bit darker than the UHD65.
Overall, the UHD65 has the advantage on 4K, but it is one that is pretty much going to be appreciated by serious home theater enthusiasts. If you are more of the “want a great big picture that looks good” type, the UHD60 works just fine. I would say for the non-enthusiast, the UHD60 is the better value overall, as long as you aren’t rainbow sensitive. After you look at the comparison images, you have to agree, differences are fairly subtle, especially considering that the UHD60 isn’t calibrated.
At the same time, remember that we have to severely compress all these photos from up to 10 megabytes to down around 100K for reasonable web sizes. That alone will compress dynamic range and diminish color depth. None of these photos will really do justice to the projector in a fully darkened room, and it makes color comparisons harder.
No surprise here. While there is not enough difference in black level performance between the two Optomas, the UHD60, like its sibling, offers only acceptable black level performance. Oh, definitely a step or two up from entry level projectors, but significantly short of ultra high contrast projectors like Epson’s 5040UB. It is more in line with Epson’s competitively priced HC4000 – which has a street price in the same range of just under $2000 at the time of this publication.
The UHD60 is on the bottom half, the UHD65 on top. Virtually identical black levels. Respectable to far short of the $2500 Epson 5040UB or $4K JVC RS400.
The Epson HC5040UB has the deepest blacks near or below it's price point, which is $500 or so higher than the Optoma UHD60!
Sony's true 4K, $4999, VW285ES produces excellent black levels by comparison to the UHD60, even having more dynamic range than the Epson 5040UB
The Epson HC3700 is lower cost, and it's black levels, also respectable, are not quite as good as the Optoma's.
Epson's similarly priced HC4000 has black levels also similar if not quite as good. Unfortunately, I did not sufficiently overexpose this one, so it doesn't "say" much.
The Epson Home Cinema LS100 is $1000 more than the UHD60, yet its black level performance is no match. But it's laser powered and twice as bright.
This JVC RS400 (2x the price) image shows the biggest range between bright and dark, and this projector has the best black levels of any of these projectors.
Included here is the usual Bond night train image from Casino Royale. In the photo player, you’ll find that first, followed by several competitors. All images have been converted to greyscale and have been intentionally overexposed. When the exposures are near identical, you can tell a lot from these images by the range between the brightest and darkest areas, but because exposures always vary, ultimately, in reviewing, I write about what I see when viewing. These images can support that, but on their own, the exposure differences can make the images hard to compare.
Our favorite movie test for black level performance. Both Optomas similar, neither great. For much better, about $2700, although plenty of pricier projectors are not better.
Black levels not as good as the Optomas.
Full frame version of bond night train (we convert to gray scale and drastically overexpose).
Epson HC5040 is $700 more, but is far superior in black level performance. The Optoma is sharper thanks to higher native resolution
About $500 less, the Epson HC3700 is standard 1080p, no 4K capability, and is not as good as the UHD60 at black levels.
This lower cost BenQ HC6050 is 1080p only, and not as good at blacks, but we will be reviewing their new low cost 4K capable projector in January 2018.
In under $5000 projectors this $3999 JVC RS400 (newer is the RS420), is the black level champ, besting the Epson 5040UB without difficulty, and blowing away everything else under it's price (at black levels).
Very good, not great. Despite the relatively bright black levels, a small amount of the darkest detail is definitely getting crushed even after adjusting the projector’s brightness. This was almost a chronic (and more severe issue with a few popular Optoma’s a few years back), but Optoma has much improved in this regard, so that the loss here is minor with most people not noticing.
Add to that a very sharp image, especially on 4K content. OK, I’d say like most of the lower cost projectors, the optical quality could definitely be improved a visible amount, especially in having sharpness from center to corners, but again, that’s typical. On the competitive side of things, though, the higher resolution DLP chip (4K UHD – 2716x1528x2) compared to the one 3LCD projector (1920x1080x2), and it being a single chip DLP design makes the UHD60 naturally sharper than that Epson. That Epson has some great image enhancement/detail enhancement features, so it can “appear” as sharp, but part of that is “noise” and it will add a slightly hard look to close ups of faces, etc.
Bottom line on Overall Picture Quality: It does a very good job overall, with some weaknesses, it could benefit from: A bit more color lumens and more significantly, black level performance.
If you want the big screen experience, don’t consider yourself a home theater enthusiast, or if sports is your primary thing, the UHD60 is a great choice. Same is true if you don’t have a nice, really dark room. But, if movies are your thing, or you really are seeking the best picture your money will buy, I suggest looking to spend an extra $500 give or take for the slightly higher end UHD65, or one of the other slightly more pricey competitors like the Epson.
I found the UHD60 viewing experience to be pretty enjoyable, within of course certain limits. Certainly it has to be considered one of several affordable Entry Level 4K content capable projectors that retail for about $2K or slightly less. The list includes this Optoma, the Vivitek (HK2288) and the Acer V7850 we’re currently reviewing, all “4K UHD” DLP projectors using the same chip, etc., and a lone 3LCD projector, the Epson Home Cinema 4000.
Again, the point is “entry level 4K.” None of the sub $2K 4K capables, for example have more than decent black level performance. There’s at least one projector for about $700 more (Epson HC5040UB) that blows them all away at black levels, and one even better than that one, for $4K (JVC RS400). Note, this Optoma is sharper than either of those – there are always trade-offs!
But, even without calibration, the UHD60 puts some very good color up on the screen backed by plenty of brightness, for both 1080 content and even enough to be pretty good at 4K with HDR, where lots of brightness is always called for.
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