PT-AE8000 Waveform Generator and Side By Side
Like to play, adjust, etc? Is watching your projector more fun than watching movies or sports? In other words are you a tech junky? The Waveform generator is for you, unless of course you already have your calibration equipment, and especially if you do, you'll probably love playing with the Generator.
If you're not at least a bit of techie at heart you'll probably never use these features. It's not to say you couldn't follow the instructions, it's just that you would probably just watch the projector, rather than "understand" it.
The next two images were taken with the older PT-AE7000. Both represent what the PT-AE8000 also looks like.
Let's just say that the waveform generator allows you to do a good bit of calibrating, or at least, fine tuning the image performance of the PT-AE8000U. The generator can show you a lot of info about the entire image, for white, or each primary color, or it can look at a specific line of data. In the image above, you are looking at the red component of the image. Auto features allow you to adjust the image to optimum based on the generator's info.
The PT-AE8000 has the ability to split the image into two halves, one side showing your default settings, and the other side, how changes to settings affect them. If you learn to use the tools, or just have a great eye for color, you can see your changes and the effects they are having.
Below is a shot of the split screen in action. Note the very different amounts of red, in the grass, etc. between the left side, and the right side:
The split screen for adjusting settings, is very cool, and useful. It is a useful tool and can be much fun as well as helpful.
Panasonic has been doing a really good job on blacks for years. It certainly has blacks good enough to meet my subjective criteria of "ultra high contrast". Given that this year is slightly improved over last year's, it's still not a match for the best. I shot side by sides with last year's Epson 5010. The Epson is still clearly a bit better on most of the scenes I view to make my determinations. Epson for years, has had the best black level performance of any costing less than the $8K JVC X70R projector and $6K Sony VPL-VW95ES.
Panasonic has a very smooth dynamic iris. It would rarely be noticeable, unless you are looking for its action.
Okay, it is detectable, sure. They all are when you do look, but it performs very well on really dark scenes like the submarine scenes in Hunt for Red October, and performs rather well in those tough scenes where the overall scene is consistently fairly dark (like dark paneled walls as a backdrop, and a person in a white shirt walking in and out of the scene). That type of scene is very tough on most DI's but the PT-AE8000 handles those scenes better than most.
Here's the thing. Panasonic probably could have delivered deeper blacks by giving up a bit of smoothness. That's just fine. When I call a projector "ultra high contrast" in indicates that it's got some impressive blacks, good enough that almost everyone can live with them, allowing many to worry more about having a special feature, such as lens memory. For us performance seekers though, I'd like to see even better blacks next year.