Posted on December 20, 2017 By Ron Jones
Optoma UHZ65 4K Laser Projector Review – Picture Quality: Out-of-the-Box Color, HD Picture Quality, UHD Picture Quality
All of my viewing of the picture from the UHZ65 was done using a Stewart Deluxe Wallscreen using their professional Snomatte fabric. This is a reference quality matte screen material with a gain of 1.0 and is very color neutral.
Assuming you are the kind of home theater person that just wants to take a projector out of the box, plug it into cable and disc, and start watching, the Optoma UHZ65 has many color modes. The brightest mode on the UHZ65 is called “Bright” and while the picture in this mode had a overall yellow tint, it wasn’t as bad, in terms of color accuracy, as the brightest mode I’ve seen on a number of other projectors. Bright mode has the most extreme factory default settings for brightness and contrast levels and that results is gross clipping of the video both at the lower and upper ends of the grey scale.
With many home theater projectors one might expect a color mode called “Cinema” to offer the best out-of-the-box picture for viewing movies. However, the Cinema mode on the UHZ65 produced some blue/purple tint to the dark thru mid shades then shifting to a little yellow for the brighter areas of the picture. The User color mode also has some blue/purple tint but this time it stayed that way across the grey scale from near black to full white. The Game mode offered a somewhat better color balance but with a some excess of red. I also found the default settings for brightness and contrast were not really where they needed to be for virtually of the modes I checked. While even what should be the more accurate modes, such as cinema and user, had the contrast set too high and the brightness set too low.
While there may very well be some unit-to-unit variation in the color accuracy for this model, for the specific unit I reviewed did not offer any picture modes that offers what ,I would consider to be really good out-of-the-box color accuracy or overall picture quality. Thus at least a calibration for the color balance/grey scale is highly recommended.
The modes we did calibrate, for HDR and “best HD” modes, are shown in the screen shots below. These turned out noticeably better, in terms picture accuracy, than any of the out-of-the-box modes..
Overall, if you don’t want to have the UHZ65 professionally calibrated, I suggest you can start off with the “user” mode then adjust the brightness to +5 and the contrast to -12 to at least get near the correct levels for reference black and reference white. Better still, pick up one of the calibration Blu-ray discs, such as “Digital Video Essentials” and do your own basic picture adjustments. You can also try our calibration settings (in the subscribers calibration section of this review), but be aware there are always some projector-to-projector variations so our calibration settings may not be ideal on a another unit.
A scene from Casino Royale, projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
A scene from The Fifth Element, projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
HDTV content, projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
The above screen shots were with the UHZ65 operating in “User” picture mode after calibration. I must admit that I was not able to achieve as good as calibration as I would have liked. Color balance and gamma across the grey scale had more variation than would be ideal. Also tracking of color gamut for various saturation levels had a few issues. No projector is perfect in these areas, but I found calibration difficult with this projector. Perhaps another sample of this same model would be different, but I found the end result for picture quality as being acceptable-to-good, depending on the specific program, but not raising up to very good or excellent class.
The first 7 screen shots above are from the movie “Casino Royale” from the 1080p Blu-ray Disc, the next 6 screen shots are from “The Fifth Element”, also from the 1080p Blu-ray Disc. The final 6 photos are from various channels carried by Directv and are all in either 1080i or 720p format. Generally the colors appeared more accurate when viewed in person than they do in these screen shots. Overall, the skin tones, post calibration, looked fairly good in many cases, but a little off in other cases. When calibrating the color balance across the grey there tended to the some excessive blue levels at mid-range (higher color temperature) while the blues were a little weak at the upper and lower end of the grey scale (lower color temperature).
A scene from Passengers, in 4K, projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
A scene from Mad Max, in 4K, projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
A scene from Lucy, in 4K, projected by the Optoma UHZ65.
The screen shots above were taken from the movies “Passengers”, “Mad Max Fury Road” and “Lucy” from the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc releases. All of these movies support HDR and offer a wide color gamut. The UHZ65, while supporting HDR only offers a slightly wider then Rec. 709 color gamut. Therefore, the color gamut being displayed is essentially the same as with HD video sources. The projector’s HDR picture mode was calibrated to support a picture with a brighter picture than used for Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content. This projector’s Brilliant Color feature was used with a setting of 8 (i.e., 10 is the max. setting offered) and the projector’s Dynamic Black feature was set to level 2 (the middle of the 3 levels offered). This combination produced a fairly dynamic looking picture with HDR programs offering reasonably good dynamics (for an under $5K home theater projector). While technically this operating mode did not produce a very accurate picture, that is one of the trade-offs for getting a decent HDR effect. In this operating mode flesh tones looked fairly good and I found the overall viewing experience acceptable for casual viewing of UHD movies. I did note that the brightest HDR image highlights were “blown out” indicating clipping. Lowering the projector’s contrast setting could not eliminate this issue.
That the color isn’t perfectly balanced as some, will leave you perhaps a bit disappointed on some content, but, again, overall, it looks fairly good with a lot of UHD/HDR content. As to how accurate, you can check out our calibration pages if that’s your thing (but use of the projector’s Brilliant Color and Dynamic Black processing can cause funny things to happen with those calibration results), but the end result when things aren’t dead on the money, is that in some scenes, skin tones might look a little better than in others.
The bottom line is the out-of-the-box picture quality is only so-so with none of the picture modes offering really good color accuracy with the factory default settings. Calibration was able to improve the overall picture quality, but even with calibration I was not able to obtain a really great picture in terms of color accuracy as far as achieving good color balance across the grey scale and without having color shifts visible depending on either the brightness of the color or the saturation of the color. With a perfect calibration and assuming excellent production values in the content, skin tones should look equally good no matter the scene. However, I wasn’t able to achieve that level of performance with the UHZ65 for either HD or UHD/HDR content. The bottom line is while I give the UHZ65 a excellent rating for image sharpness/resolution, I would rate the picture quality, in terms of color accuracy, as only fairly good even with calibration.
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