Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VW385ES 4K Home Theater Projector – 4K Sharpness, Processing

VPL-VW385ES Projector Review – 4K Sharpness: 4K Detail with Close-up Images, Affect of Reality Creation on 4K and 1080 Resolution Content

Photography of 4K Scenes – with Close-ups

This section is for those who like to stare at the tons of photos I take. Remember, there are many reasons why you need to be careful drawing conclusions. Too much goes on between the projected image on the screen and what appears on your display, much of which is pretty destructive. For example, ideally the close-ups should have been shot at even higher resolution.

After the initial series in this photo player of full frame and close-ups of the Sony VW385ES, I put up the credits image from Ghostbusters 2016. You can compare that with the same basic image taken using 8 additional projectors from $1,499, to $24,999. Most are either other true 4K Sonys – above and below the VW385ES’s price, or 4K UHD DLP projectors, and also the Epson 5040UB. To keep things reasonable, these were taken using default sharpness/detail enhancement settings, so, for example, with the Epson 5040UB, their processing was at setting 2 out of 5 maximum (with the Epson, I normally prefer 3, and sometimes 4, for extra crispness, but I didn’t want to get into a whole sequence of different settings from different projectors).

In most cases, you can enlarge the image by clicking on the player. For most of the images, you can also click in the top right to fill your screen for the closest look.

When viewing, look at the small text near the center, the post it, and various objects such as gauges. You can spend a lot of time here – just remember, each of these projectors can be further tweaked to appear sharper. That said, the Sony’s Reality Creation (with this 4K content) won’t change significantly. The Epson will get the biggest boost in perceived detail and sharpness by messing with its controls, without noticeable additional artifacts. Most of the DLPs processing tends to add artifacts almost in proportion with attempts to make them look sharper.

What does too much image processing look like? Well, on small text look for the color to be uneven, with a tendency toward shifting to white from too much edge enhancement, etc.

Have fun. By the way – sorry, this photo player when you click on it always shows the same image twice, before moving on to the next one (we’ll figure out how to fix that some day!).

Why stop with just one comparison image? Here’s another photo player – once again, the same close up images taken with several different projectors! Unfortunately, the Ghostbusters credits image is the only one I have close-ups of, for just about every 4K capable projector we’ve reviewed.

The first image in this player is the rendering of the Bigalow space station interior.  The 2nd image was taken only of a small area of the whole image, also with the Sony. The 2nd and third closeups are the Epson 6040UB (1920x1080x2 resolution) and the 3rd one, the Optoma UHD65 (2716x1528x2).  With 4K content they are all similarly sharp, relative to any projector running standard 1080p content.  They are all close enough, that you’ll need to sit relatively close to the screen to really tell which of these is slightly sharper than the others.

Reality Creation Effects – Different on 4K Compared to 1080p

Sony’s Reality Creation, as mentioned on the previous page, is a very effective detail enhancement and sharpness function when you use it with 1080 resolution content. It can make a pretty dramatic difference in perceived sharpness as one adjusts the settings from Off, to 20, and 50. Those will be the first three images in the sequence.

The remaining three photos in sequence – a different image – are showing the effects on 4K content. In this case, the three images again represent Off, 20, and 50. Note that the differences are extremely slight, as Sony is not trying to take the image – to the next level (like trying to make 1080p content look more like 4K).

The Sony is already capable of one to one pixel mapping of true 4K which is something, so far, that, under $25K, only Sonys can do, since no one else has yet released a true 4K affordable projector. Everyone else suffers from starting with pixels too large!