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Panasonic PT-AX100U Home Theater Projector Review: Image Quality 2

Posted on September 27, 2006 by Art Feierman

There's a lot to cover in this section, and I have plenty of photos to help illustrate. Let me point out that the images (photos taken of the PT-AX100U) cannot fully capture the dynamic range (from darks to bright) that projectors are capable of. As a result, in a typical scene, if the overall exposure is right for mid and bright areas, the camera will lose all the details in the darkest areas. Therefore, there will be a couple of images where I show you the normal exposure, and then a seriously overexposed image of the same frame, so you can see the shadow details the camera lost on the first shot.

PT-AX100U handles flesh tones extremely well

If skin coloring looks unnatural (such as having a yellowish caste, especially on flesh tones in shadow), you won't be happy very long. The Panasonic PT-AX100U, like almost all projectors, does a pretty good job "out of the box", but can use a little adjustment. I recommend getting a calibration disk such as the ones from AVIA or Monster, they are inexpensive (under $50), and are easy enough to use. Invest an hour and get performance up a notch. (If you are really, really serious, get it professionally calibrated, but that will set you back hundreds).

So, let's look at what you can expect. Flesh tones are rich and very saturated. In my initial adjustments I ended up with a little more red than is natural, but corrected it later on. Skin tones look very realistic.

Overall this Panasonic home theater projector gets excellent marks for its handling of flesh tones. All of these images are shot in the the PT-AX100U's "best" mode, Cinema 1, unless otherwise noted. There is also a Cinema 2, similar but with a little more contrast and minor other differences. Which you choose will primarily be personal preference. Cinema 2 tends to provide a little more depth to the image, while Cinema 1, is probably more technically correct.

Our first two images below are from Lord of the Rings, on standard DVD, Gandalf, and Arwen:

Click for a larger version of these two images.

The image above of Leeloo and the one below of Bruce Wilis, are from The Fifth Element, also from standard DVD

Next I present a shot from Phantom of the Opera from HD-DVD, a larger version is available by clicking on it:

Overall, colors are rich, well saturated, but definitely not "over the top".

Lastly, here's a couple of HDTV images, of Jay Leno, and DiscoveryHD channel: (both shot in Normal mode). (BTW, I captured the Balloon image because our family took a balloon ride while on vacation last month. Much fun, so maybe you'll turn off your projector and go out for some fresh air! -art)

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