Posted on December 20, 2017 By Ron Jones
Optoma UHZ65 Laser 4K Projector – Picture Quality 2: Black Level and Dark Shadow Level Performance, HDR and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) Performance
Black levels as seen on the Optoma UHZ65.
Black levels as seen on the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB.
Black levels as seen on the Sony VPL-VW285ES.
This Optoma UHZ65, as is typical for Optoma, does not have a dynamic iris to help out lowering black levels. But it does have a feature called “Dynamic Black”, which allows additional help with blacks by dynamically controlling the light output from the projector’s lasers. While lamp-based DLP 4K projectors may offer a similar feature, it actually works when you have a laser light source while being ineffective with lamp-based models.
Overall, the UHZ65 has reasonably good blacks with the help of the Dynamic Black laser diming function, while the native black level (without the help from the dynamic laser diming feature) is not very good for the $4500 price point. The less expensive Epson 1080p pixel shifting UB projectors (e.g., Home Cinema 5040UB) has perhaps a 4 times better native on/off contrast ratio than the UHZ65 while the JVC DLA-RS540 has 10+ times the native contrast ratio of this Optoma. The Sony VPL-VW285ES (the lowest priced true native 4K projector) comes in with a contrast ratio lower then the JVC but higher than the Epson.
Above we have our usual James Bond (Daniel Craig) “night train” image taken with the Optoma, and then the same image on a few other projectors. We’ve converted them to grayscale, and intentionally greatly overexposed. You are looking for a projector that produces a very dark letterbox, and darkest areas of the image, while having the brightest whites in the bright areas. Most of the projectors in this price range are limited to under 2000 lumens after calibration, so for the most dynamic range (as in HDR – High Dynamic Range) has to come from blacker blacks.
That UHDZ65 image is followed by the Epson HC5040UB, that is less expensive competitor that is 3LCD 1080p pixel shifting projector that uses a dynamic iris. The Epson easily bests the Optoma in terms of black levels. The last of the images, is from the Sony VPL-VW285ES which is priced at $5000, or $500 more than the Optoma UHZ65. Although the Sony does not have a dynamic iris, its native black level is much better than the Optoma.
While the Optoma comes up short of the Epson 5040UB, and the Sony, the native black level performance is typical for a DLP projector while the use of laser dimming to improve the dynamic contrast moves it a step ahead of the lamp-based DLPs, certainly those lacking a dynamic iris, at or below the price point of the UHZ65.
A scene from MadMax, projected by the Optoma UHZ65 in 4K.
A scene from Lucy, projected by the Optoma UHZ65 in 4K.
The first 3 of the above screen shots are from the movie “Mad Max Fury Road” and next 3 screen shots are from the movie “Lucy” from the Ultra HD Blu-release. These are example of scenes that include HDR enabled extra bright picture elements. The UHZ65 does a fair job at displaying HDR content with the help of the Dynamic Black feature to lower the black level during dark scenes and the Brilliant Color feature to increase the white level. However, use of the features does introduce certain other picture inaccuracies, so it becomes a trade-off. Remember this projector, along with the other DLP 4K projectors we have recently reviewed, has a rather limited native dynamic range with a native on/off contrast ratio of about 1100:1. Image processing, laser diming, dynamic irises, etc. can make black darker but only during overall dark scenes and whites brighter during overall bright scenes. What these extra projector functions cannot do os display small but really bright picture elements within a overall dark scene where the black levels are also kept really low. That limitation separates the HDR capabilities of projectors with limited native dynamic range from those that have a large native dynamic range.
I was informed by Optoma as this review was being finalized that there is a new firmware update (version C06) that makes some improvement in HDR, while this review is based on system firmware version of C05.
As for support for Wide Color Gamut (WCG), the best the UHZ65 can do is accept in input from a 4K/UHD video source that includes use of WCG, conveyed within a Rec. 2020 “container”, then display the picture using what amounts to the more limited Rec. 709 color space.
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