After Mike got done calibrating the Vivitek, the skin tones looked great! (They still do!) That should be no surprise, after you look at the post-calibration color temp which is about as tight as one could hope for.
Gandalf image from the Optoma HD8600 projector.
The two images (immediately above and below) are from Lord of the Rings, off of the Blu-ray release.
Below are a wide assortment of images to demonstrate skin tones. Remember, the same face will look markedly different under different lighting scenarios, such as full sunlight, filtered sunlight, gray overcast, nighttime, fluorescent lighting, and so on.
A few more images with good skin tones:
Good stuff. The Vivitek's skin tones look a lot better live than in these photos. Overall, definitely very good rendering of skin tones.
Vivitek H5080 Skin Tones Slideshow
It seems also that a couple of the 3LCD projectors, while still not up to the JVC RS25 and RS35, are able to produce slightly better blacks than the best DLP's I've reviewed of late. No matter, most of those better LCD projectors and the best DLP's (all using dynamic irises), are in the same overall performance class (ultra-high contrast). I had hoped the Vivitek, like the HD8600 would have good enough blacks to be categorized (by my subjective definition) as an "ultra-high contrast" projector. It turns out that it's really borderline. The first side by sides I shot, I was thinking, "hmm, the blacks are better than the LG CF181D," which surprised me. It wasn't until after I posted the first version of the review, that I realized I wasn't using the LG CF181D, but rather, the slightly lower performance LG AF115, which doesn't have as good a black levels as the CF181D. Still that leaves it on the border. Upon watching with the Epson 8500UB, side by side, I got a better "reference". The Vivitek is no match for the 8500UB, but based on that side by side, the Vivitek should be close, but not quite as good as the Panasonic PT-AE4000, and probably about on par with the Sanyo PLV-Z3000. Certainly it's better at blacks than some lower cost projectors like the Epson 8100, Mitsubishi HC3800, etc. Although, the Vivitek improves on black performance with image processing rather than a dynamic iris. It's borderline. I'm in a good mood (and this is a subjective call), let's call it an utra-high contrast, although it's just making it, and the other projectors I call ultra high contrast are at least as good as this one.
When I first posted this page, I said that Vivitek wasn't getting very much out of its dynamic iris, which of course resulted in smooth (not noticeable) iris action.
Well, I blew that. Optoma's got it's Dynamic Black which is always on one of two settings. That Dynamic Black shall we say, was playin with my head. Turns out, the big difference between the Vivitek H5080 and the Optoma HD8600 is that the Vivitek does not have a dynamic iris, only a manual one.
Folks, that was a major error on my part. Sorry!
Bottom line: The Vivitek H5080 projector achieves its blacks without dynamic iris, and does a respectable job. The whole point of defining some projectors as ultra high contrast, was to reach a point in black level performance, that improving it further, starts becoming a secondary, as other things, perhaps a brighter projector, or a sharper one, assume new importance.
Image time: We start with the starship image from The Fifth Element. The first photo is way overexposed to show the blacks in the letterbox as dark gray. As you can see, to lift the blacks that much, the starship itself is terribly overexposed. In the image immediately below that, you are still looking at the same image, but only slightly overexposed.