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Sony VPL-VW665ES 4K Projector: Picture Quality

Posted on December 18, 2015 by Art Feierman
SONY VPL-VW665ES 4K PROJECTOR PICTURE QUALITY:  Out of the Box Color, Skin Tones, Black Level Performance

Out of the Box Picture Quality

The Sony VPL-VW665ES 4K Projector:  Picture Quality offers especially good color, right out of the box, in several modes, most noticeably Cinema Film 1 and Reference. Reference offers the least image processing aka, the purest image.  Some other modes are not as great, including Bright TV, but we used it extensively in our HDTV shoot.  Still, not bad, rather good, really.   The two "Bright" modes - Bright Cinema and Bright TV aren't really brighter, but they have a punchier image for dealing with some ambient light.  It seems that Bright TV is improved a bit compared to the older 600ES.  All of the modes measure within about 12% of each other, and if you don't count Photo mode, all are within 10%.  Since that's very little difference, there isn't a particular "brightest" mode, vs. "best" mode, as we normally designate.

Click Image to Enlarge

Reference (and Cinema Film 1) look really great, and a touch less warm compared to the 600ES at default settings.  The photos tend to come out with a slight extra "yellow-gold" overall, but that's not visible on the screen.  If ever there are projectors that really don't need calibration, the VW665ES is definitely one of them.  Then there's that Auto-Calibrate feature to keep the color consistent over the life of a lamp. Nice!

I presume that most people buying the VPL-VW665ES will probably have it calibrated.  That, combined with the inherently great color right out of the box had me decide not to bother calibrating this VW665ES projector, as any error in color is likely within the variations expected due to lamp variation.  But I will try the VW600ES's calibration settings, just for fun.

VW665ES Handles Skin Tones Really Well

Remember, these were all taken in Reference mode, with no adjustments - pure "out of the box" capability.  The greatest flaws in terms of color are those added by the "process" of my photography, cropping, downsizing, and compressing into JPGs, not to mention any color shift due to your display.  The last three images in the player above are from 4K content.

Skin Tones Depend on Lighting

Now that I have served up a number of different images showing off skin tones, I want to make my usual point:  Production values have an affect on those skin tones, but "lighting" in general has a greater affect.  In our familiar demo, here are images of "Bond" under different lighting.

Of particular note, the last of these images is also Bond in the same daylight image.  The difference is that the last image was from the older VW600ES.  What is of special importance, relates to the overall, and out of the box color.  While the image from the VW600ES was taken post calibration, the VW665ES was taken with no color adjustments at all, "right out of the box" so to speak.  Yet they are rather close in overall color.  That simply reinforces my comments about how close to "on the money" this VPL-VW665ES is, right out of that box!  I have yet to input the calibration settings from the VW600ES into the VW665ES which should make photos of the two projectors even closer overall.

Also interesting, as you will see below, the color of the 4K version of the secretary in The Fifth Element is different from the 1080p version.  I assume they went back to the original, and optimized for the greater image capabilities afforded by 4K standards.

In the images here, the first image of Bond is with filtered sunlight, the second, is nighttime, then Bond under fluorescent lights, and finally in full sunlight. Four very different skin tones, same person.  Don't forget that there's also the "director's intent" that can have a major effect, right?  (Think about the different color castes of the different lands in Lord of the Rings, the heavy yellow/blue enhancements found in some action movies (Transformers series) etc.  Want an extreme example:  The Matrix movies with their greens.

Sony VPL-VW665 ES Black Level Comparison

VW665ES very overexposed - excellent black level performance
Sony's older VW600ES
Sony's VW1100 4K VW1000ES, with even better blacks
JVC's flagship projector with best native blacks (sorry for the smaller image)
JVC DLA-X35, very good, but not the best black levels around $3500
Sony HW55ES - excellent blacks for around $3500
Epson Home/Pro Cinema 5030ub/6030ub great blacks for $2700-$3500
Epson G6900WU - for media rooms with ambient light, mediocre blacks
Epson LS10000 laser projector has more dynamic range, better blacks

Bottom Line on Black Level performance:  The improved Sony VPL-VW665ES black levels are due to higher overall contrast, and, I believe (from watching), but cannot confirm, that Sony has stretched the range of the dynamic iris as well.

Last year I was satisfied with the black level performance of the VW600ES, said I could live with it even at it's price, but hoped for a bit more.  Sure, last year's was better than say the best lower cost 1080p projectors like the Epson UB series, but not a match for Epson's LS10000 laser projector that shipped after I reviewed the VW600ES.

I still believe that Epson projector has the black level advantage, but Sony has closed the gap a good bit.

Here's the important part.  Although I would consider the Sony to come up a little short of the LS10000 and a little more so vs. the JVC RS4910 (new generation would be the RS400, X5000).

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