Sony VPL-VW70 Out of the Box Picture Quality
This Sony home theater projector is good out of the box, but definitely improves with calibration. That said, you might well enjoy watching the Sony VPL-VW70, uncalibrated, (i.e. in Cinema mode, the image is a little too warm - a bit too much red), but, to get your money's worth out of the VW70 you will want it properly calibrated.
If budget doesn't allow that, get a good calibration disc, such as the Digital Video Essentials - HD disc, and do the best you can. Another alternative is to take the settings we came up with in our Calibration page, and drop them into your projector. Dynamic mode, out of the box, is just the opposite of Cinema with a heavy shift to blue, with weak reds. While watchable, try changing the default color temp for Dynamic, from High to Medium, for a real improvement.
VPL-VW70 Flesh Tones
After completing the calibraton of the Sony VPL-VW70 projector, skin tones were excellent. Not the very best I've encountered, but very close. (We still like best, the InFocus IN83 of all the projectors we've reviewed in the last couple of years.) The Sony, though does a great job, and, with a full calibration including the individual colors, it may well match the InFocus. I suspect it may well beat my own personal JVC DLA-RS20, in terms of skin tones, with that full calibration.
These first two images are from standard definition DVD disc; Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers. The first is Gandalf (in Gondor), followed by Arwen in the forest.
The rest of the images in this section are movies and other content on hi-def Blu-ray disc. The next three are from Casino Royale, but each scene has different lighting. As you would expect, that affects the color balance. The first image is with direct sunlight, the second one, fluorescent lighting, and the third one, filtered sunlight.
Below are a number of additional images to demonstrate handling of skin tones.
Next are images from the sci-fi flick, Aeon Flux:
VPL-VW70 Projector Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Black level performance is one of the best we've seen. The Sony VPL-VW70 is a step up from the lower cost VPL-HW10, in terms of producing blacker blacks. We've reviewed a lot of 1080p projectors in the last six months, and very few can match or beat the Sony VW70. Of the lower cost projectors, when it comes to black levels, only the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB and Pro Cinema 7500UB come close, and the Sony does best them. In the higher price ranges - where this Sony's true competition lies, it is roughly comparable to the JVC DLA-RS10, and the Planar PD8150. The JVC RS10, of course, is another LCoS projector, but one that achieves great black levels. By the way, JVC has engineered the LCoS panels and whatever other magic they do, while the Sony relies heavily on its dynamic iris. The Planar - the best of the DLP projectors I've seen in terms of black levels (it bests the BenQ W20000), should be very close to the Sony. I would have liked to run them side by side, for a number of reasons, but the opportunity never happened.
Ultimately, the Sony does a sufficiently excellent job on black levels, that only one projector we have tested can claim to be a step up, and that's the JVC RS20. That said, the Sony is sufficiently good, that if choosing between the two, other factors may prove to be more important to you than black level differences.
OK, let's start with the usual Starship image from The Fifth Element. The first two images are from the VW70. The first, intentionally way overexposed, enough so you can just make out the gray/black in the letterboxing. As you can see, to make out that letterboxing, we really had to overexpose the image. That's a good thing. Below it is the more normal, but still slightly overexposed version that is used to compare with the same image from other 1080p projectors.