Posted on March 14, 2008 By Art Feierman
Epson seems to consistently not offer the best shadow detail, but they are respectable none the less. I’ve found a tendency of projectors with extremely good black level performance to often not be quite as good at revealing the darkest shadow detail. This is consistant with these Epsons. The 8100 with it’s less black blacks, does seem to show off a touch more dark detail. The 8500UB, by comparison, loses just a little, as it often does to other competing “ultra-high contrast projectors. Dark shadow detail would not be considered a strength of the 8500UB, although the 8100 is perfectly acceptable.
Along with the higher contrast and better blacks, the better panels in the 8500UB help you get a generally more dynamic looking image out of the Home Cinema 8500UB, compared to the Home Cinema 8100. You can just see some of that even when viewing nice bright, or medium brightness scenes (if you are comparing side by side), but it’s hardly dramatic. It’s when you get to those darkest scenes, though that the difference almost approaches “night and day” – actually let’s make that “night and dusk”, which is still huge. The Home Cinema 8500UB really is a pop and wow champ among projectors in its price range. In fact it’s so good at impressing, that I have said, that it’s also why the Epson’s skin tones seem a touch less natural than some others. Overall, ya gotta like it though even though the skin tones can be a touch more contrasty than many other projectors. Of course, today, with so many projectors offering adaptive contrast, and in the case of DLP projectors – various Brilliant Color implementations, it would seem that most buyers today are turning on features that add to the pop and wow, at the expense of a more natural image.
While I find both Epson’s to offer less than the best skin tones out there, they really do a respectable job. Here’s one taken with the Home Cinema 8500UB (from Aeon Flux), followed by a different image taken of the 8100 (from Quantum of Solace):
You know what? It’s your call. You’ve got to live with your home theater projector. Don’t be a fanatic of obtaining “perfect” if you really prefer something to watch that is technically less perfect. What’s the opposite of pop and wow? I’m not sure but seeming relatively “dull” by comparison, comes to mind.
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