Before I discuss the images above, and LS-7 vs. Epson, let me finish the above about the RS20, RS25. Consider the two images above, in the first one, had that been a JVC "2" series on the right, it would have had slightly blacker blacks than the Runco. Where the difference is impr
Overall, my point is that the LS-7 is comparable, and typically just a touch bettter when it comes to black levels, compared to the already excellent Epson. I have no doubt that the LS-7 is quite visibly superior to some other ultra high contrast projectors in terms of blacks. Those others would include the BenQ W20000, InFocus SP8602, Optoma HD8600, Panasonic PT-AE4000. It should be still better or equal to the Mitsubishi HC7000, and Planar PD8150 (Planar owns Runco).
Ultimately though, I again say, while better blacks are always welcome, we've reached the point where further improvement, while good, is probably secondary to more accurate color, more lumens, advanced features, etc.
More side by sides with the Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB. These others are from The Fifth Element. First is a spacecraft approaching lights, pretty normally exposed, next the same image overexposed quite a bit. Then, in the 3rd image, the spacecraft's engines fire. Look how blown out the engine whites are, and how much lighter the background has become. And I actually had to reduce the exposure of the 3rd image, by a full f stop, compared to the second image. (The image with the same exposure as the second one was so overexpsed at the same setting as to be useless.) That gives you some idea of how much a dynamic iris can darken an entire scene. Even with the loss of one f-stop of brightness, note how much lighter the space background is, in the third image! Also note that the Runco does better blacks in all but the first of the three. Finally, the last image is another fairly normally exposed image several seconds later in the film.
Next: These two all digital images images are good ones for considering black levels and dark shadow detail in mostly dark scenes but with some pure 100 IRE content. Look for the richness in the black part of some of the buildings and also, the sky, in the second image. Both of these first two, are digital hi-def images from the DVE-HD calibration disc
Shadow Detail Performance
Keeping in mind that the LS-7 does very dark blacks, it also does particularly well on dark shadow detail. It's certainly right up there with some of the best. I note frequently, that projectors with poor black level performance, in elevating the "near blacks" so they are above the black level "floor", means that those dark details are already being raised up in brightness, and no longer really that dark. Projectors like the Runco, which have great blacks have to lift the near blacks barely at all, and as a result, those dark shadow details are hard to see, because they are, so close to black.