Shadow Detail Performance
Shadow detail performance of the Sony is very good, not exceptional. Seeing the darkest of shadow details is inherently more difficult on a projector with really great blacks, as the near blacks are still very, very dark. Despite this, the Sony does a good job. I can think of several projectors with better dark shadow handling, but not enough to be an issue. I put the VW85 as a bit better than the Epson 8500UB and 9500UB projectors, and about comparable to the RS25. The Panasonic PT-AE4000, the Optoma HD8600, and one or two others can best it.
Below, our overexposed satellite from Space Cowboys. Look in the dark areas. Pretty comparable, despite the Epson, on the right, being slightly brighter, which does wash out the black of space a bit, but helps see near dark detail in the satellite.
Below are groups of images, showing the Sony's performance on shadow detail and black levels compared to many of the other 1080p projectors out there.
The first set of comparison images is from Space Cowboys. This is a very dark scene with Clint Eastwood on Blu-ray disc. The photos are intentionally way overexposed. Look for the blacks in the shades, and the details in those shades in the form of the white trim. (At this level of overexposure, don't even worry about the skin tones, as in these types of overexposed photos they always look terrible).
First image is the VPL-VW85, followed by the JVC DLA-RS25 and the Mitsubishi HC7000. Next is the the Sony HW15. The last two in the sequence are the Panasonic PT-AE4000 and the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB.