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Sony VPL-FHZ65 Laser Projector Review - Performance

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Art Feierman
SONY VPL-FHZ65 LASER PROJECTOR - PERFORMANCE:  Brightness, Sharpness, Audible Noise, Image Noise

VPL-FHZ65 Brightness

The Sony FHZ65 is one bright projector. 6000 lumens goes a long way in the world today, allowing some pretty large sized screens to be filled, brilliantly, even with some ambient light present.

For reference, 10-15 years ago, a mere 2000 lumens was considered the standard for most rental and staging applications, such as for presenting in hotel ballrooms on 15 to 25 foot diagonal screens in front of 400 people.  FYI, the rooms were kept pretty dark for that.   Of course today, even the least expensive projectors produce 2000 to 3000 lumens, (but only that many white lumens), this Sony produces an equal number of color and white lumens, and that means it can handle ambient light far better than those with limited color lumens.

The bottom line is that 6000 color/white lumens today is a medium range commercial projector that could be used in larger venues.  Oh, you can use it in the conference/board room, but if used there, know that in those environments, it will be fully capable of handling typical presentations on 100” screens under full fluorescent lighting.

Most likely a 6000 lumen projector will be used in much larger rooms, including auditoriums, ballrooms, large training facilities, large churches and other houses of worship, museums, night clubs and a host of other specialty venues and applications.

Sony FHZ65 Brightness in (white) Lumens
Mode/Setting Lumens
 "Brightest" Dynamic  5975
 "Brightest" Standard  3615
 6500K Dynamic  3761
 6500K Standard  2296
 7500K Dynamic  3427
 7500K Standard  2026
 6500K Extended Low  1234
 6500K Brightness=20  1059
 6500K Brightness=0    379
 Custom 2 Color Dynamic  3442
 Custom 2 Color Standard  2032

The Sony delivered on its claim of 6000 lumens. A couple of things to note, regarding that. As per the table below, we measured a maximum of 5975 lumens, which, of course is 25 lumens short of claim. However, we tend to do things our own way around here, the result is our published measurements tend to be just slightly on the conservative side:

  1. These measurements were taken with the zoom lens at mid-point of its range. Being a 1.6:1 zoom that costs something typically between 6 and 10% of brightness compared to full wide angle.
  2. We do not measure ANSI, which produces a final number based on weighted average measuring at different points around the screen. ANSI therefore tends to take in factors suh as lower brightness in the corners. Instead, measurements are an average taken approximately 10% out from the dead center of the screen.

On excellent projectors this tends to leave us a good bit conservative, on those that roll off a good deal to the edges, we should produce similar results to using ANSI and measuring at full wide angle on the zoom lens.

The Sony has a host of controls, including main groups that include Dynamic, Standard, Brightness Prority And Multi-Projection   But while those tend to bring about two different levels of brightness, other controls including color temp, and color space choices affect brightness as well.

Of course color reproduction is an important consideration. Even at the brightest measurement we came up with, 5975 lumens, color was very respectable, (some extra yellow green), but far better than most projectors running a "Dynamic" mode.  Almost all other combinations were much better than that, with color – for an uncalibrated business projector being rather excellent, as many of the images in this review indicate. Very good color at almost 6000 lumens, great color at almost any other brightness - but there are some color space settings that are not "pretty."  Fortunately, there are a huge number of options and almost all produce at least high quality color output.

Eco, officially on this projector is about options of handling the image, based on conditions, such as no source, or static source, whether to power down, or dim, etc., rather than being a traditional “low power mode.”

In reality, think of Dynamic as full power, and Standard as "Eco" as most projectors label things, since Dynamic does measure a good deal brighter.

That said, thanks to the laser light engine, you can control brightness in tiny increments – the slider offers 100 positions from full on, to almost black. With the minimum setting of 0, as you can see in the comparison images below), the projector is producing less than 1% of full brightness. There won't be too many applications where you ask a 6000 lumen projector to output only 500 lumens or even less, but it can be done if needed.

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FHZ65 Sharpness

For openers, this is a WUXGA projector - that is, 1920 x 1200 resolution.  For all but a limited number of applications, that's what the world uses today when detail and sharpness are key.  Yes, there are true 4K projectors, and Sony, as it happens, makes almost all of them, (except a few digital cinema projectors - which Sony also makes).

Most of the projector world is still using WXGA - that's 1280x800 resolution, which means only about 45% as many pixels.  No contest.  But, if you are looking at the FHZ65 for your application, you obviously are looking for a projector that's very sharp and clear.  If you would prefer the even higher 4K resolution, great, but the hard part is spending a good 4 times the price.  4K is "big bucks" and still will be for some time, considering that Sony is making 4K LCoS chips, but TI (DLP chips) still hasn't served up a 4K chip for projectors smaller than full sized movie theaters, also there are no 4K 3LCD chips yet.

Once you get beyond native resolution, there are a few other things that come into play:  With three panel (chip) projectors like this Sony, there's panel convergence.  Good news, Sony offers panel alignment.  It works as advertised, not as perfect as a single chip design, but without those limitations either (like a spinning color wheel and the "rainbow effect.)  The Panel alignment is easy to use, to find tune the FHZ65.  Unless you are moving the projector around a lot, (and are hard on it) you shouldn't need to adjust it more than once.

Optics are also important.  Sony's optics definitely seem to be on a commercial quality level.  You can look at the small text close-ups in the test patterns here, and also the fine lines test.  Overall, excellent!

Of course we only got to work with the standard zoom, but I would expect all of Sony's optics for the FHZ series to be of serious quality.  BTW they are also relatively fast in terms of F-stop - which helps this Sony laser projector be as bright as it is.

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FHZ65 Audible Noise

For 6000 lumens, the VPL-FHZ65 is exceptionally quiet!

Sony publishes a spec of 28 db in Standard mode (which would be "eco" on most other brands).  Hard to find, but I did come across a spec of 34 db that would be full power.

Listening to the projector and switching between them, its more like having some home theater projector, than a large commercial projector. For a projector this bright, it's definitely quiet.  Most of the lamp based competition is typically 40 db, so that makes the Sony dramatically quieter.  I use a 5200 lumen Epson regularly, it claims 39 db at full power and 31 db in its eco mode.  And I have found that that Epson is definitely quieter than any of the DLP projectors similarly bright.  A 6000 lumen BenQ DLP projector that we are planning to review claims 44 db at full power, so this Sony will prove to be far  quieter its brightest than that BenQ in its quietest eco mode.

Bottom line:  You aren't likely to find other 6000 lumen commercial projectors this quiet, never mind finding ones quieter.  That's probably not a big issue in a large auditorium, but if used in a boardroom, the relative "silence" will be greatly appreciated.

Image Noise

Overall, the Sony passed our Silicon Optix image noise tests without difficulty.  The only issue I observed worth noting, is one I've also encountered on Sony's home theater line, so I went hunting for this issue:  When viewing 24fps (not very likely in most commercial applications), at just the right slow panning speed, Sony's seem to pick up a very visible judder.  I've only encountered pans at just the right speed, in perhaps 3 movies (the beginning of the movie RED, outside on the street is one such pan).  Implementing some of the various image noise controls helps a little with that, but doesn't cure it.  Since you need the pan to be at exactly the "wrong" speed, I would take this as an alert, but not something to really be concerned about.  Overall, the Sony is very clean on both static, and video, with that one exception.  We expected no less.

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