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Sony VPL-VW5000ES 4K Projector Review - Performance

Posted on January 29, 2017 by Art Feierman
This page of the VPL-VW5000ES 4K Home Theater projector, looks at the Sony’s brightness, lens throw information for the standard motorized zoom lens, lens shift and Lens Memory. At this point in time the VPL-VW5000ES is a truly unique projector. It’s not the first laser home theater projector by any measure, nor is it the first true 4K projector home theater – Sony’s been shipping those for over three years. Nor is it the brightest home theater projector around, although no serious home theater projector I can think of that costs less than it’s $60K (and supports HDR) is brighter. But, put it all together, and for now it stands apart. True, competition is around the corner. Perhaps most notably JVC’s DLA-RS4500. So let’s start there. This Sony is true 4K, supports HDR, et al. This laser projector claims 5000 lumens. By comparison, when that JVC ships, Q1 2017, that laser 4K projector will retail for a bargain $35,000, but it will sport 3000 lumens. That makes the Sony 67% brighter – no small amount, and in the world of HDR, that can be a real difference in performance. But we’re happy to reserve judgment on the JVC until we get one to review (no easy feat!). More on the competition on our summary page.

The VW5000ES is Bright!

Because it is out there without any really direct competition, and because most of the folks who will buy one, aren’t the kind of folks counting lumens, I decided not to do the usual measurements of every mode. Suffice to say, this Sony when measured, clocked in just over 4700 lumens with the zoom lens in mid position. But I also didn’t pick the absolute brightest mode, although all normal usable modes seem to be within about 20% of each other in brightness, which isn’t a big difference. I think I can safely conclude that at full wide angle in most of the brightest of modes, it will easily push pass the 5000 lumen claim.

vpl-vw5000es_hdtv_screen_ambient-light

A bright sunny day in my home theater, with the shutters on the windows open (as you can see to the right), barely fazed the Sony. No problem with my sports viewing like this. Of course you always want it darker for dark scenes in movies.

 

AKA, the VW5000ES is really bright! That’s what you need to know.

Lens Throw and Lens Shift of the VPL-VW5000ES Projector

VPL-VW5000ES Lens Throw to fill a  100" 16:9 Screen
Wide Angle 9 feet 7 inches
Telephoto 19 feet 7 inches

The 2.1:1 zoom has a pretty typical throw distance for zoom lenses with this much range.  Measurements are based on distance from the front of the lens to the screen surface.

Lens Shift

The Sony has plenty of lens shift.  A few projectors have a bit more, but for almost any installation this Sony has more than enough range.

Most projectors have the same amount of vertical up, and vertical down lens shift, but the VW5000ES is slightly (and I mean very, very, slightly) unequal.

There's 85% shift up, but "only" 80% shift down (that difference is about two inches or so on a 100" diagonal screen).  Horizontal lens shift is 31% to either side.  Of course the more you use of vertical shift, the less horizontal that will be available, and vice versa.  That's standard.

To give you an idea, on that 100 inch diagonal screen, you could have have the projector placed anywhere from about 42 inches above the screen top, to 40" below the screen bottom. Now that's serious placement flexibility!  Conversely, if not using vertical, you could have the Sony placed horizontally, up to about 26 inches to the left or right of straight back from the center of the screen.

If you need a shorter throw setup, remember that Sony has a wide angle lens option.

That lens is also a motorized zoom.  For that same 100" diagonal, 16:9 screen, the projector (front of lens) can be placed as close as 6 feet, 8 inches, or as far back as 8 feet, 6 inches.  I do not have pricing for that lens at this time.

What all Those Lumens Buy Us

This Sony can tackle huge screens when doing 1080 resolution, or even 4K without HDR. I mean 200” diagonal is no problem at all. But HDR wants tons of brightness.

As I’ve watched HDR content on this Sony, but also on projectors putting out 1200 – 2000 lumens rather than 5000, I can tell you all that extra brightness it makes a difference on HDR. I’ll repeat the images shown on a previous page. Look at how much more dynamic the VW5000ES looks compared to the Epson UB projector (lower image).

VPL-VW5000ES_ghostbusters_HDR-room

 

HC5040UB_ghostbusters-HDR-room

With more brightness comes more pop. The difference between bright and dark areas is great in terms of contrast, and that also translates into much richer more saturated, vibrant colors in the PKE meter, and the can of Pringles (compare the reds).  Wow!

Don’t get me wrong, that affordable Epson looks great (especially when comparing to the 1080p version of the movie). But there’s no comparison, the Sony with it’s horsepower, blows the Epson away on HDR content!  We're talking a real magnitude of difference.

I find viewing HDR content on the VW5000ES to do a very respectable job on my 124” diagonal Stewart Filmscreen Studiotek 130, with 1.3 gain. By comparison when I watch the Epson at that size it feels a good bit underpowered, by comparison.  I can say that I’d probably still be happy up to 150” diagonal with HDR.   Having more gain than 1.3 on the screen would further help, (but go much beyond that, and there are trade-offs that many don’t like - such as the sides of the projected image being darker than the center.)

The Bottom Line: The Sony should perform “brilliantly” up to about 140” diagonal with HDR content. But at smaller sizes such as 100 – 120 inch diagonal, you’ll get an even more impressive image.

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