Projector Reviews

Sony VPL-VW40: 1080p Home Theater Projector Review – Image Quality-2

Sony VPL-VW40 Black Levels

Sony has the same 15,000:1 contrast ratio on the VW40, as the older VW50. From extensive viewing, and despite a faulty memory, I would say that black level performance, overall, is also the same.

The Sony VPL-VW60, with its newer LCoS – SXRD – panels, does produce blacker blacks than the VW40. Not drastically so, but the VW60 is a step up. For reference, last year, I found the VW50 to be one of the best at black levels but still a step short of the JVC RS1. That holds true with the VW40. By comparison, I still favor the RS1’s black levels over the VW60, but it’s a much closer thing.

Manufacturers try, with each new generation, to improve native contrast. The end result is blacker blacks, however dynamic irises are now just about standard. This allows the projector to do much better black levels in scenes that are very dark with no bright areas. A dynamic iris won’t help if you have a scene with lots of dark, but also containing extremely bright areas. This for example is the advantage of the JVC projectors, which have LCoS chips that definitely seem superior to Sony’s when it comes to native black levels.

Sony VPL-VW40
Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB

The Sony VW40 takes advantage of very good native blacks, by enhancing performance with a good dynamic iris system, which tends to stay invisible under most watching conditions. Once in a while in a change of scene, you might just detect something, but mostly, you would have to be looking for it.

First, a couple of space scenes. When you click on the image below of the satellite (which is only barely overexposed), you will see a more over-exposed, large version of the same frame. As you can see, the stars are very rich, and numerous. In the small image, it is the camera that is crushing blacks and losing the starts. Overall, the Sony delivers really good black levels, but not the best in class.


As well as the Sony does, the Epson is revealing more stars, and you can just, barely see the difference in background blacks. (Sorry, I should have overexposed it a little more, but no fear – I have other images.)