Over all, we found the Sony projector's dark shadow detail to be very good, which is to say, rather typical of our highest price class of projectors (from $3500 - $10,000 and change). No objections at all, with the shadow detail performance.
Our primary comparison image is the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the Sony HW30 projector, then the Optoma HD8300, followed by the lower cost Optoma HD33, Epson Home Cinema 8700UB, the JVC DLA-HD250, Mitsubishi HC-4000, the BenQ W6000, then Sony VPL-VWPro1, the Sharp XV-Z17000.
The VPL-HW30ES comes across about average in terms of revealing dark shadow detail, for projectors of this quality. We make this determination based on viewing, after contrast and brightness has been adjusted as part of our calibration. This image, however, is a bit too dark, compared to some others, and will be replaced with a more overexposed version. We have seen other competing projectors with similar "ultra high contrast" black level performance, that do reveal a bit more dark shadow detail.