Pro8100 Out of the Box Picture Quality
This Viewsonic Pro8100 did not produce especially good, accurate colors out of the box, in preliminary measurements. Although colors were off a bit, it was no worse than most projectors. Unfortunately few projector do a really great job, right out of the box.
To not have the projector calibrated to some degree would be the waste of a good projector. Even your basic end user calibration disc will make a real improvement. Some of you may want to try the settings we came up with, listed in the General Performance - Calibration section.
Perhaps even more significant than some color shift, is that the projector's colors seem way oversaturated at their default settings. We knocked the settings down a good deal, and ended up with more realistic saturation. There's plenty of range in the controls.
Better than more than a few, the Pro8100 really is quite watchable right out of the box. Or it's even better, just by reducing the color saturation about 10 points.
Since the Pro8100 is sold only through local "CEDIA" type installing dealers, it is very likely that your dealer will calibrate it for you, to some degree or other, or recommend a professional calibrator. Considering the price of the projector, you'll need to do more than just watch "out of the box" performance, to get your money's worth, and a basic calibration is well worth it!
Pro8100 Skin Tone Handling
Definitely off a bit, before any adjustments, and made worse by the oversaturation, but once the projector gets even a basic grayscale calibration and the saturation is toned down, it starts looking really good on skin tones. The images here should give you a good taste, however, they still do look a little oversaturated, in part because my camera tends to produce slightly oversaturated images the way I have it configured. As I have said before in other reviews, I recommend that if the images look oversaturated on your monitor, just turn down the monitor's color saturation control, to get a better idea. Not to worry.
The first two images are SD-DVD. Both are from Lord of the Rings. The Viewsonic projector did just fine on both, with the Gandalf image being a bright image, while the image of Arwen is shot deep in a forest and you can just pick up a bit of the forest's greenish gray hue, in her skin tone, near the top of her face.
One thing that it is important to keep in mind, is that different scenes mean skin tones will look different. Bright sunlight will result in significantly different skin tones than florescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even filtered sunlight. I've picked the usual 3 differently lit images from Casino Royale, to give you an idea of how the Viewsonic does in different lighting. The first is bright sunlight, the second, flourescents in an airport, and lastly, filtered sunlight.
Bottom line: After calibration, the skin tones were excellent. While the images here are going to look oversaturated on many monitors, if you adjust the saturation you should find the skin tones to be very natural overall.
Pro8100 Black Level and Shadow Detail
Black Level Performance
Black level performance is very typical for a 1080p projector, and I'd place the Viewsonic about in the middle of the pack. While its black levels are not any better than, say, the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 (the least expensive 1080p projectors on the market at this time), it more than makes up for it in brightness, so these really aren't competitors. Like most of the DLP projectors, the 3LCD Viewsonic comes in short of the best in black levels. So far that "best" group is very small, consisting of a pair of JVC and a pair of Sony LCoS projectors, plus the Epson Home and Pro Cinema 1080 UB projectors. Other than that small group, the Viewsonic Pro8100 is mostly comparable and occasionally better than the rest of the field. Review continues below this advertisement! This first Blu-ray image is from Space Cowboys - a nice dynamic, dark scene with a small area of bright white, and also bright red - a challenge for a dynamic iris. There is an issue with the dynamic iris action, which I will discuss below. I probably should have spent more time trying out the Pro8100 with the auto iris disengaged, but a quick look at that, found black levels to be a little worse than average. For comparsion purposes with the image above, also consider this side-by-side image below of two of the Viewsonic competitors. In this image the Sony VPL-VW40 is on the right, and the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, is on the left. Note that the images below are a little more overexposed than the one above. The visibility of stars around the starship is extremely good. In fact, I really can't recall any other projector that does notably better, and most can't match the Viewsonic on this image!
Shadow Detail Performance
I found overall shadow detail, after the projector was properly set up, to be extremely good, as you can see in some of the images below. No complaints here, and it even did a bit better overall, than my favorite 3LCD projector; the Epson UB series. For all the images in this section, when you click on the ones you see, you will get larger, overexposed versions that will allow you to make out all the dark shadow detail that my dSLR loses at normal exposure. Top left: Viewsonic Pro8100, Top right: Panasonic PT-AE2000U 2nd Row left: Epson Home (or) Pro Cinema 1080 UB