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Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review - Performance

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Art Feierman
VPL-VW350ES 4K PROJECTOR PERFORMANCE Page 1:  Measured Brightness / Color Temp - pre calibration, Calibrated Reference mode brightness, Affect of Zoom lens and Eco mode

VW350ES Brightness

VPL-VW350ES MODES:  BRIGHTNESS AND COLOR TEMP - at Mid-point on zoom lens
Reference 1286 6133
TV 1383 7385
Cinema Film 1 1286 6133
Cinema Film 2 1270 6134
Game 1270 6136
Photo 1109 5178
Bright Cinema 1383 7174
Bright TV 1383 7274
User 1270 6139

Maximum Brightness measured was Bright Cinema, Bright TV and TV modes, zoom at wide angle.  That worked out to 1383 lumens, about 6% above the the 1300 lumens claimed.  In reality these modes all measured within a few lumens - well within the margin of error, which is several percent.

Reference mode, per Mike, was the best mode over all, and his basis from which he performed his calibration of the VW350ES.    Reference, which post calibration, ends up as User, starts out with great color balance, but a little cool - a touch more blues than reds.  His comments are on the Advanced calibration page for our subscribers.

This Sony comes up short of being what I like to call a "light canon" - my cut off for that is 1500 respectable looking lumens (not some really ugly Dynamic mode that is unwatchable but 1600 lumens).  This is a bit surprising, and looks to be a marketing decision, as manufacturers tend to do.  Normally, as is the case with the iris free Sony VPL-HW40ES and the iris equipped step up VPL-HW55ES, the lesser projector is the brighter of the two, for without the iris for better black level performance, it becomes a projector that's a better fit for less than ideal rooms - the proverbial family / living / bonus / media rooms. Since those rooms typically can't be completely darkened, and usually don't have dark surfaces, they can't take full advantage of the better darker blacks of the higher end projectors.  Instead, manufacturers usually  give those projectors more lumens, not less.  The VW350ES uses a different, lower wattage lamp than the VW600ES.  With Sony's HW 1080p projectors, then it's the lower cost, HW40ES that's the brighter.

Still, it is what it is.  1200+ great looking lumens is enough for 130" screens under ideal conditions and will do just fine with say 100 to 120 inch screens with minor ambient light.  While the VW350ES can't take as much advantage as the VW600ES in a more perfect room, I suspect the bulk of the ones sold will still end up in those dedicated theater/caves.  Owners will be settling for less features, and a few less lumens, but the overall picture quality - other than black levels, fully rivals the VW350ES's $5000 more expensive sibling!

Post Calibration Reference Mode

1254 Lumens!  Calibrated!!

Post calibration, Reference mode, (ends up as User) required relatively minor changes because it starts out well balanced if a bit cool.  It still manages to deliver 1254 measured lumens.  We're talking 32 lumens less than "out of the box".  That folks is a drop of less that 3% - an amount you likely wouldn't notice even if you tried to.

That's a hefty amount of calibrated lumens.  That puts it as bright as its closest and not so close competition, the Epson LS10000 and the JVCs priced at $5000 and $8000 (and $12000).   I repeat again, of those, only the Epson (and the Sony) has a clear path to supporting new 4K formats including Blu-ray UHD coming later this year.

So, if you want true 4K, you can buy brighter - another 20% of brightness can be had with the VW600ES for that extra $5K, or, go for broke and get almost 50% more brightness (and the best picture) for $28000 with Sony's flagship VW1100ES which we recently reviewed.

The one place more lumens would be nice is for 3D.  Since one can't really expect more than about 1/3 of the lumens hitting your eyes when watching 3D compared to 2D, you'll likely find the Sony a bit underpowered for 3D. Hey, that's true of most projectors, but another few hundred lumens would help.  (See, again, Sony is driving you toward the VW600ES).

This gallery contains all images taken with the calibrated Reference (User) mode, except the football shot which was Bright Cinema, only about 10% brighter.  (The first three are from 4K content).

Affect of Zoom Lens, and Eco mode, on Brightness

VPL-VW350ES Lens Setting vs Brightness (lumens)
Wide Angle (closest placement to the screen) 1339 lumens
Mid-point 1286 lumens
Telephoto 1012 lumens


If you can place the projector so the zoom is at full wide angle - the closest you can place your projector to whatever sized screen you have, that will be the brightest.  Because the lens is a 2.06:1 - lots of zoom range, the brightness drops off more quickly than with projectors with more modest zoom ratios.  Measuring at the mid-point of the zoom lens results in a very minimal drop of only 4% to  1286 lumens, while going to full telephoto (typically for back of the room placement, results in a drop compared to wide angle, of about 25%.

VPL-VW350ES Full Power vs. Eco (Reference Mode)
Mode Lumens
Full Power 1286
Eco Mode 1005


Eco mode - Sony calls it Low lamp, results in a drop in brightness that's only about 22% .  If you don't need that extra brightness, you'll save a little on electricity, and it also results in the projector running quieter.

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