Projector Reviews

Home Theater Projector Comparison Report: Calibrating Projectors, Settings

Your new projector and calibration

This is pretty straightforward. Simply stated, I have yet to encounter a projector, that, right out of the box, with no changes, produces its best possible image. In most cases, colors are a little off, contrast or brightness needs to be adjusted for better black levels, shandow detail and highlight detail, and so on.   Mind you, a few get very close. In general, if a projector, for example, has a THX mode, that’s going to be really good, right out of the box.

OK, you go out and buy a new projector, and when it comes to calibration, you have exactly five choices:

Hook it up, turn it on, and watch it as is – what we refer to as “out of the box” picture quality – pick a picture mode (Cinema, Sports, Bright, Natural?) from those offered.

2. Same as #1 above, but you do a basic adjustment of Brightness and Contrast settings. If you know what you are doing, this can be done by eyeballing it, but a number of discs (mostly Blu-ray) have basic instructions and screens for adjusting these two (Star Wars discs – standard DVD also have this). A grayscale test pattern is really all you need, but there are plenty of good scenes from movies that can allow you to do just as good a job.

You deal with color adjustments as well. Best solution, get yourself an end user calibration disc, such as AVIA, or Digital Video Essentials HD (DVE-HD), and follow the instructions. These are designed with tutorials and to be used by the non-technical. Don’t worry, you can handle it. These will allow you to do not only brightness and contrast, but color. Your results won’t match a professional calibrator’s but should get you closer to their work, than what you started with.

The easy way out: Use the calibration settings we provide in each review. There are three limitations. 1. There is some variance (in terms of color) caused by the variation from one lamp to the next. 2. We calibrate early on – typically with less than 50 hours on a projector and lamp, since most times we are working with brand new projectors. The lamp’s color will shift slightly as it ages (many calibrators recommend holding off until the lamp has 200 hours or more).

Time after time, I get emails from folks telling me about the substantial improvement they are seeing in picture quality/accuracy, by using our settings. It’s not a perfect solution, but probably the second best, for most folks not planning to hire a professional calibrator, and lacking the tools and skills to do it themselves.


Under $2000 Calibration Pages for each Projector
Acer H9500BD Click here
BenQ W1200 Click here
BenQ W6000 Click here
Epson HC8350 Click here
Epson HC3010 Click here
Mitsubishi HC4000 Click here
Optoma HD20 Click here
Optoma HD33 Click here
Panasonic PT-AR100 Click here
Viewsonic Pro8200 Click here
Vivitek H1080FD Click here
$2000 – $3500
BenQ W7000 Click here
Epson 5010
Click here
Epson 6010 Click here
JVC RS45 / X30 Click here
Click here
Mitsubishi HC7800D Click here
Panasonic PT-AE7000 Click here
Sony VPL-HW30ES Click here
Vivitek H5080 Click here
JVC DLA-X70R Click here
Mitsubishi HC9000D Click here
Optoma HD8300 Click here
Runco LS-5 Click here
Runco LS-7 Click here
Runco LS-10d Click here
SIM2 Nero 3D-2 Click here
Sony VW95ES Click here