Projector Reviews

Panasonic PT-AE2000U Projector: Black Levels and Shadow Detail

Panasonic PT-AE2000U Black Levels

With the huge increase in claimed contrast, to 16,000:1 (sightly better than the claimed 15,000:1 on both the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 and the JVC DLA-RS1 ,which I own), I expected great things. In truth, I didn’t expect it to match the JVC, which does high contrast naturally, without relying on dynamic irises and lamps as do all the best LCD home theater projectors.

This seriously overexposed and closeup of Gondor at night, provides a look at how the Panasonic handles very dark areas. Note what detail you can make out on the right of the mountains, and below them. Also, notice the colors and shadow detail in the buildings.

And without a doubt, black levels have improved from the older PT-AE1000U, but still fall quite a bit short of the JVC, still the reigning champ (until I can get my hands on the brand new JVC RS2, and new Sony VW60). Still, like the Sanyo PLV-Z2000, the Panasonic does a very good job, with the Panasonic having a slight, but visible advantage in black levels in most scenes. I would have liked to run the Panasonic opposite the Sanyo or the Optoma HD80/HD8000 side by side, but it was not to be. Still between images, my notes, and my viewing impressions, I would say that the Sanyo and Panasonic with their dynamic irises behaved similarly, with the blacks just a bit darker on the Panasonic. Compared to the Optoma, a DLP projector, I would say, that on the right type of scenes (no really bright areas, the Panasonic at least equals the Optoma), on mixed scenes with lots of bright and dark, the DLP has a definite advantage. I would also give the Mitsubishi HC6000 the advantage overall, in terms of black levels, compared to the Panasonic.

Panasonic PT-AE2000U Shadow Details

Considering shadow detail, off the top, the Panasonic, while very good, is at best, the equal to the Sanyo, which is not a bad place to be. Overall, be it due to gamma, or other issues, the Sanyo reveals more shadow detail in very dark areas. Of course, like most issues, this can be affected by user settings. Using Cinema 1 mode, I found that the darkest areas that should reveal detail, were just too dark. After raising the Panasonic’s Low Gamma and Mid Gamma, each to +1, I found it helped. Still, as you will see in the satellite image below, the dark areas are still very dark.

First up is this night building scene from Aeon Flux, on Blu-ray DVD. The first image is the Panasonic PT-AE2000U. The one below it, the Sanyo Z2000. Clicking on each brings up a closely cropped view of the upper left hand corner.


Below are side by side images shot last month of the Sanyo (right) and Optoma HD80 / HD8000 on the left. Both are somewhat over exposed so that you can compare shadow. While the sizes aren’t the same, below that you can compare with the panasonic. Have fun!

Below is a good image of Clint Eastwood, from an extremely dark scene from Space Cowboys. In a room illuminated by only a single table lamp, this truly is a dark scene. Sorry, the Panasonic image (first) is not as overexposed as the other two. I will replace this image when the production PT-AE2000U arrives.