Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-HW65ES Projector – Performance

SONY VPL-HW65ES PROJECTOR PERFORMANCE: Brightness (and Color Temp) per mode, Color Temp (Best mode), Post Calibration Color Temp/brightness in Best mode, Brightness Zoom lens range 

VPL-HW65ES Brightness

Sony VPL-HW65ES Projector – Brightness by Mode, Mid-zoom
Mode Brightness (Lumens) Color Temp at 100 IRE
Reference 1560 6623K
TV 1707 8071K
Cinema Film 1 1560 6633K
Cinema Film 2 1377 6560K
Game 2065 8083K
Photo 1074 5538K
Bright Cinema 1716 7667K
Bright TV 1716 7960K
User 1560 6629K

As you can figure out from a quick look at the numbers above, while there are 8 different preset modes plus user, that there are really only 5 really different ones in terms of brightness and color temp.

In other words, the first three look the same on the chart, but things like gamma, as well as other image functions have different default values, from otherwise similar modes.

Mike, our calibrator, started with Reference, which he reported to be the most accurate mode, as the basis for his “best” mode calibration.  That finished calibration was placed in the User mode!   Our calibration page will give all the basic settings (Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, etc.), as well as the grayscale calibration putting Red, Green, and Blue in proper balance around 6500K across the IRE range from full white to dark gray (as low as our gear will go).

Take note – if you own, or at least looked at our HW55ES review, you would have found that most modes measured about 35% lower than the HW65ES measured here.

The thing is, the HW65ES is officially only 100 lumens brighter – less than 10%.

I know a significant amount of the remaining difference is that in the 2 years or so since the HW55ES review Mike replaced his calibration and measuring gear.  We know that his new gear is almost 10% brighter than mine, and mine was roughly 5% brighter than his old equipment.  So that explains some of it, but I’m at a loss for the rest of the difference.  For example Reference mode, uncalibrated measures 1560 on the HW65ES vs only 944 on the HW55ES.  Calibrated it’s 1533 lumens vs 964 lumens on the older Sony.  It may well be that the HW55ES we reviewed was less bright than average, but the bottom line is that this Sony proves to be much brighter than the 55 that we reviewed.

Individual color calibration of primary and secondaries
Individual color calibration area of primaries and secondaries

For our member subscribers, typically there’s an additional page with “advanced” settings, essentially the individual calibration of each of the primary and secondary colors. There are before/after CIE charts and other graphic info as well as a few comments from Mike, our THX certified calibrator.  In the case of the HW65ES, however, Mike did not bother to calibrate the CMS as some of the presets are virtually perfect.  You will be able to read his notes and recommendations about that.  The  small image above shows you what the menu for calibrating a specific color looks like.

Color Temp For Best Mode - Pre Calibration

 

Pre-Calibration Reference Mode
IRE Range Color Temp (Kelvin)
100 (white) 6623K
80 6634K
50 6680K
30 6675K

It is worth noting that the Sony – right out of the box in Reference (and several other modes) – is right there around 6500K, where it should be.  I’ve always found it interesting that this Sony’s two biggest competitors – the current Epson UBs and JVCs near the price, both sport THX modes, which you would think would stand for having near perfect color, right out of the box (you know, like this Sony).  But historically, the THX modes of those brands projectors have their grayscale balance slightly above 7000K, which is a noticeable miss if you are talking where they should be.  7000K properly balanced still looks really good, but would be a little too cool – whites with a touch too much blue compared to red, than the color standards.  Epson’s and JVC’s can be be calibrated to get their color temp right down around 6500K, but the Sony starts out with inherently better “out of the box” color accuracy, even if those others still look really good.

Note that while there is a slight rise in color temp from the brightest whites to the darker grays, it is first of all rather slight.  The range is less than 200K, and better still the range starts with less than 100K below 6500K, to less than 100K above.  Tight, and that’s pre-calibration.

Now let’s see (in even more detail – every 10 IRE) how the grayscale balance looks post calibration.

Post Calibration - Brightness and Color Temp: "Best" Mode:

Post Calibration Color Temp, by IRE
IRE Range Color Temp
100 6514K
90 6534K
80 6492K
70 6444K
60 6492K
50 6545K
40 6599K
30 6480K
20 6259K

The Sony VPL HW65ES measured a dazzling 1533 lumens post-calibration!  That earns it “light canon” status.  Oh, there are now bright room projectors (more “home entertainment” than serious Home Theater) that are much brighter, but this Sony easily can tackle huge screens – easily over 150″ diagonal (approaching 200″ diagonal)  in  a proper darkened home theater.  (I figure less than 1800 lumens is all you need for a 200″ diagonal size with a 1.3 gain screen.)

But since few of us will own screens over say 130″ diagonal, the Sony has a huge reserve, allowing for running in the quieter Low Power mode (other companies typically call that Eco mode).

That 1500+ calibrated lumens is about as  bright of any serious dedicated home theater projector in it’s class, or even up to $10,000.  For more calibrated brightness without breaking your budget, you’d have to go with some much lower end DLP projectors calibrated with TI’s Brilliant Color turned on, or some “Bright Room” Epson projectors – not their “serious models.”  None of those are any match in overall picture quality.  While projectors like the Epson 5030UB / 6030UB are 30%, or more, brighter in their brightest useable modes, those same projectors produce around 800 lumens calibrated.  That makes the Sony far brighter calibrated than those.  That allows for a noticeably larger screen, if desired!  Epson’s laser projectors offer similar brightness to this Sony.

Post calibration, the color temperature range – which appears almost flawless when we showed pre-calibration above (because we show only every 20 IRE not 10) improves from an already tight pre-calibration range of the Reference mode. And the balance between Red, Green, and Blue, further improves from already very good.  This is about as nice as calibration numbers get, in terms of grayscale!  Only the darkest measurable range – 20 IRE – deviates, dropping to just under 6300K, still very good.  The rest of the range is about as good as it ever gets!

Effect of the Zoom Lens on Brightness

Zoom Lens Position Affect On Brightness
Full Wide Angle 1665
Mid-point on the zoom 1560
Full Telephoto 1417

Sony’s 1.6:1 zoom lens must be very well designed from the standpoint of maintaining brightness.  While not as much range in the zoom as some (JVC 2:1, Epson 2.1:1), Sony’s 1.6:1 zoom has dramatically less brightness drop off as you place the projector further away from the same sized screen. Note that the drop is less than 15%.

By comparison, those 2:1 type zoom lenses often lose up to 40% if you place the projector all the way back. True, the Sony won’t allow you to go as far back as those others, but it still has enough zoom lens range to even allow shelf mounting in a decent percentage of rooms.