Posted on November 15, 2018 By Art Feierman
Sony VPL-VW295ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Brightness and Color Temperature, Color Temp Readings for Reference Mode, Post Calibration Color Temp Readings for Reference Mode, Gamma Measurement, ECO Mode: Affect of Brightness, Power Consumption, Lens Position: Affect on Brightness
Unlike its predecessor, the 285es, the Sony VPL-VW285ES came up just a touch short of its brightness claim of 1500 lumens. But it did get a lot closer than many.
When you look at the chart below, please note that we show Reference mode twice, because throughout the performance and calibration pages, we use mid-zoom and full power, unless otherwise noted. That first listing, therefore shows this projector at its absolute brightest. Still at mid-zoom it doesn’t lose many lumens!
That makes the VW295ES bright enough to be happy outside of a dedicated home theater/cave. . Consider: In a fully darkened room – such as good home theater, you really only need about 450 lumens to fill a 100″ diagonal screen with movie theater brightness, so this Sony has power to spare, to tackle more than a minimal amount of ambient light. HDR content is a bit different and will take advantage of even several thousand lumens.
In the case of this Sony, we calibrated Cinema Film 1 as our “bright” mode for viewing with ambient light present. It measured 1239 lumens at mid-zoom. But for the brightest mode, overall, still with respectable color (if a little cool) is Bright Cinema which produced 1430 lumens at full wide angle, full power on the lamp. Since Eric burns in the lamp a bit before calibrating, My guess is that if he had measured it on day one, it probably would have gotten within 30 lumens or so of claim. Close enough!
We calibrated Reference mode at mid-zoom, and set to low lamp, and measured 1024 lumens as our “best” mode for non-4K, non-HDR content. We could afford to choose low lamp for calibrating “best” picture quality, for dark room use, because we have Cinema Film 1 doing the heavy lifting when there’s more than a little ambient light. Turn off the lights when using Reference with our setup.
Had we used full power on Reference mode, and wide angle on the lens when calibrating, we would have measured 1224 lumens for our best mode.
We use mid-zoom for most measurements because we believe that is more “real life” than publishing full wide able on the zoom lens. That’s because not everyone with this projector can mount or place it at the minimum distance from their screen. Also because you aren’t going to have the lens at its best, at the extreme ranges of its zoom.
The same chart above shows the color temperature of each mode when measured. These numbers are all pre-calibration. About half of the modes are around 6500K (the ideal for movies, etc), while others are more in the 7500K range – a bit cooler (more blue) whites, such as Bright TV mode which I mention elsewhere in this review. In this case, if I was to pick an uncalibrated mode for my sports viewing, I’d likely use Bright Cinema.
Many folks like a cooler temp for sports viewing – I count myself among those, so I tend to prefer something around 7000K but never more than 7500K.
For our best calibrated mode (Reference) for non-4K/HDR, and with the standard target of 6500K, for greyscale balance, you can see that this Sony is already extremely close to ideal, and the range is nice and tight without any major variation from 6500K (+231/-199).
The measurements below were taken at mid-zoom in ECO.
Pre-Calibration: Average Gamma 2.18
Post-Calibration: Average Gamma 2.33
For more casual viewing than movies – I’m thinking sports, or most TV, most prefer a lower gamma which yields a brighter mid-range to the picture.
Our calibration of Cinema Film 1 preset mode, as the VW295ES’s Brightest mode, has a gamma closer to 2.0. 2.02 before calibration and 2.1 after.
From any color mode, switching from full power (High) to Low power mode, results in a measured drop in lumen output of about 29%.
That, I should point out, is pretty typical with almost all projectors dropping between 25 and 35 percent when going to Eco (Low).
In the case of this Sony projector, there’s only a small drop in brightness about 4% going from full wide angle on the zoom, to mid-zoom, but a far larger drop to telephoto – but still only 21%. That’s rather excellent – that is, a relatively small drop compared to some other projectors with zooms around 2.0:1.
The good news is that if you have to mount this Sony projector near the furthest end of its range for your sized screen. Or perhaps you are placing it on a high rear shelf, either way you aren’t sacrificing a really significant amount of brightness – you lose less than going from full power to low power on the lamp.
The VPL-VW295ES simply looks more naturally sharp than any of the lower resolution 4K capable projectors, whether they are basic 1080p pixel shifters (2x) or (4x – the lower res “4K UHD” DLPs), or the 2716×1528 4K UHD pixel shifters).
With all the controls any of those others can at a glance, on 4K content, look as sharp, or even sharper than this Sony. That doesn’t make them better, what that tends to make them is over processed. I’ve long talked about how those lesser resolution projectors when set up to look really sharp, tend to add visible hardness to the picture, something that may look great on a outdoor scene, but may really look too hard, and not too natural (even when the color is great), on close-ups of faces.
While I’ve had the Sony here, I’ve compared it to the Epson 5040UB, the Optoma UHD65, and a couple of the lower res 4K UHDs (BenQ HT2550/TK800) and the Viewsonic PX727-4K.
In every case, the differences in sharpness are slight enough that you really can’t tell differences at 15 feet back from a 100″ screen – Except if you look at one of those face close-ups, that is over sharpened, that you could spot differences in sharpness and detail.
4K HDR/P3 image from Valerian. Please remember, you can click on each image, and then click again to further expand using our PrettyPlayer image plug-in
Close up of the previous 4K image. Extremely sharp, not over processed (you can see some sharpening, this is like sitting 4 feet or less from the screen. Zoom all the way in!
4K with HDR and P3 color - Journey to Space - rich colors - and sharp/detailed
Closeup look of Saturn (false color), 4K HDR, P3 on Sony VW295ES
From Valerian, 4K. Nice detail, no hardness. Sony VW295ES
VW295ES showing 4K HDR/P3 from Pacific Rim - Uprising
Another Journey To Space 4K HDR/P3, and, a close-up is next
Renderings are good ways to compare sharpness and detail. This one from Ender's Game (4K, etc.) This is the VW295ES. The close-up is next. The rest of this batch is the same image from 8 competitors. Each projector is identified in its caption. Have fun comparing.
Bigalow Space Station rendering - close-up: VW295ES
A close-up from the LG HU80KA - a $2999 smart 4K UHD laser projector (1920x1080x4) This one is more home entertainment (lacks really great color). Note when zoomed in - jaggy lines - not natural
The Epson 5040UB is the preferred lowest cost 4K capable projector (1920x1080x2) pixel shifter, that's really great on very dark scenes. Sharpness/detail can be a bit hard vs Sony.
Acer VL7860 4K UHD (2716x1528x2) pixel shifter - has a laser engine, and looks pretty sharp here. (It's also my favorite 4K UHD DLP when it comes to black levels).
The Optoma UHD51 is another 1920x1080x4 DLP 4K UHD pixel shifter. Like the others, they tend o look a touch softer, or they look over sharpened. This projector, is pretty smart.
BenQ TK800 is a low cost 4K UHD DLP (of the lower resolution group), and similar to others of the same res. I repeat: Color, HDR, P3. are more important than the sharpness differences
Optoma UHD65 - first of the current 4K UHD projectors we reviewed. Uses the higher res UHD DLP panels.
It is always tempting to “up” sharpness, detail, image enhancement, and other similar type controls to end up with the proverbial “razor sharp image.” That said, in the long run, many folks end up doing that, but eventually, tend to dial back some of that extra processing for the more natural look.
In the case of this Sony – sure you can crank up its Reality Creation engine and get a similarly over sharpened type image, but there’s no need to!
I should note that when I run a photoshop image into these various 4K projectors – one with just 4 color pixels in the center – a red, green, blue, and a white one, in a square layout, This Sony does a better job of separating colors (still not great) than any of the non native projectors. The only one that has topped it has been the 5040UB (seeing the different colors), but when it does that, it also definitely has the slightly hard look I keep mentioning.
The bottom line on sharpness and detail.
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