Projector Reviews

Vivitek H5080 Projector – Image Quality

Vivitek H5080 images below are from either Blu-ray, or HDTV, with the exception of Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). Because this is a “short” review, due to the similarities in picture quality, to the Optoma, I’m also using a few Optoma images to fill in. They will be duly noted. Since one big difference between these two projectors is black level performance, I won’t be using any HD8600 images where we’re discussing black level performance. As always: These images are not overly accurate compared to the image the H5080 projector projects on the screen. There are color shifts saturation differences, etc. Our standard explanation:

These images are provided to support the commentary. In reality, the projectors always look better than the images in our reviews. From a color standpoint, my dSLR camera still adds a very slight green shift to some photo shoots that I have not been able to completely remove in most cases. I now visually attempt to adjust all the images to correct for major abberations in color between big screen and computer screen. In other words, while we can demonstrate differences in black levels and shadow details of the H5080, the photos are only approximations of skin tone and color accuracy. This is one case where “why use 1000 words, when a picture will do”, won’t do.

H5080 Out of the Box Picture Quality

The H5080 look pretty respectable right out of the box, but none of the presets is really close to ideal. No worries, Mike gave the Vivitek H5080 a quick calibration and the projector got a lot better still. “Out of the box” color is definitely not the best color performance but watchable.

The image immediately below is from The Hunt For Red October, on Blu-ray.

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Flesh Tones

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

Vivitek H5080 Black Levels & Shadow Detail

To tell the same story, I told when reviewing the Optoma:

Years ago, DLP’s were the first projectors to produce high contrast and dark blacks. Over the years, though, the advantage has been lost. Today, JVC’s LCoS design seems to be the best for black level performance, although other LCoS brands don’t fare as well.

Click Image to Enlarge

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.

Vivitek H5080
Optoma HD8600
Vivitek H5080
Optoma HD8600
Panasonic PT-AE4000

I’ve even got a couple of side by side images for you, comparing the Vivitek H5080 (left) to the LG AF115 (note, the image file names are wrong, indicating the CF181D, not the AF115). I have not yet published the AF115 review. It’s a lower cost, slightly lower performance – including contrast and brightness) projector.

In the images above, the Vivitek (left) appears brighter (since we start out matching brightness on brighter scenes, that indicates the iris isn’t closing down as much with the Vivitek). You can also see less difference in the star background between the first and second Vivitek images (that’s due to the lack of a dynamic iris, but their Dynamic Black feature does have some impact. With the LG, the space background increases significantly in brighntess.

Here are two more dark scenes comparing the Vivitek (left) but this time, against the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB projector. This time, the Epson clearly has the advantage in black level performance, both on the darker first frame, or the 2nd one when the shuttle lights up the frame.


These two all digital images images below are good ones for considering black levels and dark shadow detail. Look for the richness in the black part of some of the buildings and also, the sky, in the second image. Both of these first two, are digital hi-def images from the DVE-HD calibration disc.