Like all Sony projectors that I have reviewed, the color reproduction of the XW5000ES was very good out-of-the-box. The REFERENCE, USER, and IMAX ENHANCED picture presets were only a few hundred degrees off my calibrated white balance target of 6500K.
The most accurate picture modes on most projectors are usually the least bright. With many projectors, you must sacrifice half of the projector’s rated brightness to produce accurate-looking colors. However, the better-looking modes on the XW5000ES were actually some of the brightest.
Like other Sony home theater projectors, I would be satisfied with the picture quality of the XW5000ES whether it was calibrated or not. However, I did take the time to measure the projector’s picture modes and calibrate its USER Mode.
Since your room and screen material has a major impact on the overall picture, we don’t recommend using someone else calibration adjustments. If your room is brighter/darker or your walls are a different color, copying someone else results can cause more harm than good. However, below are the before and after calibration results in my room.
To test measure and calibrate the XW5000ES, we used Portrait Displays Calman color calibration software.
Pre-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale
Out-of-the-box, the Grayscale was better than average. When measured, the color temperature was just a few hundred degrees off my target of 6500K. Like most projectors that utilize blue-phosphor light sources, the image was slightly cooler than desired.
Since the Color Tracking is measured after Grayscale had been adjusted, the average Delta error was just 0.55, which is extremely low.
In the USER picture preset, the gamma measures lower than my target of 2,2, resulting in a slightly elevated black level in my room on my matte white screen, but this was easily corrected using the GAMMA CORRECTION and BRIGHTNESS adjustments.
Picture Mode: USER
Color Temperature: 7169K
Average Grayscale dE: 4.7
Average Color Tracking dE: 0.55
Post-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale
We calibrated the USER picture preset. White the default COLOR TEMP setting of D65 was fairly close to 6500K, I switched the COLOR TEMP setting to Custom 3 then made some quick adjustments to the WHITE BALANCE to produce a very good Grayscale. I increased the RED GAIN while slightly reducing the Green GAIN and BLUE GAIN.
The achieve my gamma target of 2.2 in my room, I set the GAMMA CORRECTION to 2.4 and reduced the BRIGHTNESS setting. The XW5000ES offers COLOR CORRECTION (CMS) adjustments that can be utilized to improve color tracking, However, after finetuning the projector’s Grayscale, the average color tracking errors were so low that there really isn’t a need to make any further corrections
Picture Mode: USER
Color Temperature: 6493K
Average Grayscale dE: 0.62
Average Color Tracking dE: 0.45
Delta E measurement of 3 or less is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye. Even before calibration, the XW7000ES had an average dE of less than 5, which is good. After calibration, the XW5000ES had a grayscale average dE of 0.62, which is outstanding. While the projector has CMS adjustment, they are now needed to achieve outstanding color tracking.
The XW5000ES can reproduce about 90% of DCI-P3 color space, but SDR and HDR colors still appeared rich and vibrant. While adding a color filter would extend the projector’s color gamut coverage, Sony does not use them in their home theater projectors.
I have never been a fan of using cinema filters when viewing HDR content because they reduce the projector’s brightness. Colors look more saturated when they are brighter. When viewing HDR on a projector, I personally prefer the look of extra brightness over a slightly wider color gamut.
Once the Grayscale (RGB Balance) was accurately adjusted for SDR), colors will also look good when viewing HDR content.
While you can use the projector’s WHITE BALANCE adjustments to further improve the HDR Grayscale, the difference would be slight and difficult to see.
The Sony VPL-XW5000ES has a rated brightness of 2000 ANSI lumens. To measure its max brightness, I set the projector to IMAX ENHANCED Mode (the brightest mode) and increased the projector LASER LIGHT SETTING to its maximum. I then took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens.
Sony XW5000ES Brightness (IMAX ENHANCED mode, Lamp Control ): 2017 Lumens
At wide zoom, in IMAX ENHANCED Mode, the XW5000ES measured 2017 lumens, which is inline with Sony’s rated brightness of 2000 lumens. You will find the XW5000ES more than bright enough for viewing SDR content on a 180” screen or HDR content on a 150” screen in a dark room.
Picture Mode Brightness (Default Laser Power Settings)
Cinema Film 1
Cinema Film 2
You can buy a 4K capable laser DLP projector that has a higher rated brightness for less than an XW5000ES. However, when many DLP projectors are calibrated or placed in their most accurate picture modes, their brightness is far lower than their rated brightness.
The XW5000ES can deliver most of its rated brightness while delivering accurate colors. In other words, when calibrated, the 2000-lumen XW5000ES is brighter than many calibrated 3000-lumen DLP projectors.
In addition, when viewing HDR content, the Dynamic HDR Contrast feature did an excellent job maximizing the brightness on the screen. The XW5000WES produced a brighter, more vibrant HDR image than many competitors’ projectors with far higher rated/measured brightness.
BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL
While brightness is important, deep, accurate black levels separate a good home theater from a great one. If you compare two projectors with identical brightness, the one that can produce deeper blacks will deliver a higher perceived contrast.
One of the main reasons to buy a higher-end home theater projector, like the XW5000ES, is much better black levels, resulting in higher contrast. This is beneficial when watching movies in a darkened theater or in a room with lots of light control.
The native contrast and black levels produced by the new 0.61” SXRD panels appear to be similar, I would even say better than what was delivered by older 0.74” units used in the older Sony 4K SXRD projector like the VW325ES.
Since the XW5000ES has the same 4K UHD SXRD panels as the higher-end XW7000ES ($28,000 SRP), its black level and excellent shadow detail in my viewing room looked similar to the much more expensive model. Combining the high native contrast of the SXRD panels with the precisely modulated laser light output resulted in outstanding black levels.
I did most of my viewing with the DYNAMIC CONTROL set to Limited, which engages dynamic laser dimming. Not only were the blacks nice and deep, but subtle details in the shadows were also clearly visible.
Due to its native 4K UHD (3840x2160) SXRD panels, the XW5000ES produced sharp, detailed images from my 4K UHD Blu-day player and Kaleidescape.
Good 4K upscaling continues to be critical because most TV shows and live broadcasts are still produced in HD. Due to Sony’s decade of experience upscaling content to 4K, sporting events and broadcast content shot in HD looked great on my 120” screen.
4K HDR content can deliver expanded color space with better highlight and shadow detail, but even the brightest HDR projectors can struggle to reproduce HDR faithfully.
The XW5000ES is equipped with an X1 Ultimate, which is Sony’s most powerful video processor, so it includes the Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature. This gives the projector the ability to analyze and adjust HDR content frame-by-frame HDR tone mapping to deliver respectable full-screen brightness while still displaying a good amount of highlight detail.
When viewing HDR content, I left the Dynamic HDR Enhancer set to LOW most of the time. Switching the settings to HIGH will increase onscreen brightness at the expense of clipping more bright highlights. If you want to adjust the Dynamic HDR Enhancer setting, you can quickly switch between levels by pressing a button on the remote control.
Even though the XW5000ES is utilizing frame-by-frame tone mapping, sometimes brighter highlights are occasionally clipped. This does not indicate that the XW5000ES is not dynamically HDR tone mapping. Sony believes this is necessary to keep most of the image on the screen as close to the director’s intent as possible. Remember, you can always adjust the HDR Contrast setting to restore any clipped highlight information.
The X1 Ultimate processor combined with the XW5000ES ability to deliver 2000 ANSI lumens of brightness resulted in better SDR and HDR reproduction than the VW325ES it is replacing.