Oh, if only the LG CF181D was better at black level performance. Still the LG didn't do badly, but not a UHC projector. As best I could describe them, I said they were a little better than the Mitsubishi HC3800, about half way between the 3800 and the Panasonic. It's not even remotely up there with the Epson UB, or the far more expensive JVCs. Shadow detail was not a problem, The dynamic iris itself was pretty smooth. Combine that with the not spectacular blacks and I conjecture that the LG's iris isn't setup to shut down as far as the irises on most other projectors.
Black levels are just good, I'm still working with the HC6800, but I don't believe blacks are any better than the Epson 8100 and 9100. Shadow detail, however, is better than most.
It's been a long time, since Mitsubishi did not replace the HC7000 last fall. When reviewed, blacks were, in the general price range at the time, second only to the Epson 6500UB and 7500UB, and definitely better than the still very good, Panasonic PT-AE3000 (and probably still a touch better than the newer PT-AE4000, and defiinitely superior to the Sanyo PLV-Z3000. Of course the JVCs bested even the Epsons (and rather easily).
The end result - the HC7000 may still be the 2nd best at black levels in the class, in fact it probably is. Shadow detail was never a problem.
The black level performance of the HD8200 isn't the issue, it's the iris. I found it to be very annoying occasionally. Now I realize I'm a lot pickier than most, but, the HD8200 iris definitely has some quirks. It's what ruined the projector for me. Turn off the iris and the HD8200 can still do some decent blacks but not so good as to rationalize the price point the HD8200 is at, when you consider some of the competition (such as the BenQ W6000).
In last year's report, Sanyo's PLV-Z3000 was the UHC projector with the least impressive blacks (which is still to say, really very good). Well, nothing's changed. I still think of it as where one draws the line. That means, that while blacks could still be a lot better, you've found a projector where you can start weighing improving other aspects of projector quality, a bit heavier than further black level improvement.
The Sony makes the cut. Call it an ultra-high contrast projector. Though it still falls short of the Epson, it's probably right there with the Panasonic, or a tad better, which isn't a bad place to be. When it comes to shadow detail I had simply said " the Sony VPL-HW15 does really well".
$3500 - $10,000 Home Theater Projectors
Wow! All eight projectors in the class this year, are considered ultra high contrast projectors. That's right, all have at least extremely good blacks, light years ahead of the entry level projectors. It may not matter much at all on a typical well lit scene, but when scenes get dark, some projectors look far better than others.
InFocus is back, and their IN83 replacement, the SP8602 sports a dynamic iris, and better blacks than its predecessor. Black levels are just decent relative to the other UHC projectors. That said, we're still talking pretty black blacks. Even with its dynamic iris the SP8602 comes up a little short of the JVC RS15, a direct competitor. Shadow detail is excellent!