Optoma HD50 Image Quality Assessment.
Panel uniformity with DLP one chip is usually very good and the Optoma HD50 is no exception, it’s very good.
The Optoma HD50 was calibrated in 2D using Eco mode for 16ft lambert brightness, when switching on dynamic black there are minor fluctuations on measurements so bear that in mind when i print the images below, i will discuss image quality as i go along and list the discs i used for testing purposes.
I set sharpness to 7 but felt the image was a bit soft, i ended up turning on Pure Engine, i set this to manual and 30%, anywhere between 20% and 40% works good but this is DLP and i would have expected natural sharpness to the lens without switching the engine on, nevertheless once set up correctly the image has good sharpness without over sharpening issues, no halo’s to report, no artifacts, just a nice looking sharp image.
The Optoma HD50 native contrast and black levels were good enough for me to view content but obviously there is a considerable improvement to both when switching on dynamic black, better contrast and deeper blacks make a difference to image quality, with dynamic black off the native contrast was 1221:1 with 16ft lambert brightness and projecting onto a 1.0 gain 92 inch screen, the black level was 0.013, this is using ft lambert readings, use an online converter if you wish to know the readings in cd/m2.
Contrast and black levels were improved upon by switching on the dynamic black feature, see the picture below.
On the Optoma HD50 at 16ft lambert of brightness you get 0.003 black levels and over 4600:1 contrast, that is not too shabby, to put that into perspective the Sony HW40 projector does 0.005 and around 3300:1 contrast, a Benq W1070 does around 900:1 contrast and 0.019 ft lambert blacks.
Of course you must also remember the Sony HW40 projector does it without the help of lamp dimming or an iris, indeed you can put a filter on it and get 0.003 blacks and contrast nearer 5700:1, so that’s worth bearing in mind when comparing things.
You can get around 500:1 ANSI contrast on the Optoma HD50 but this is very much room dependent, most people won’t get anywhere near that.
One of the things i check for when using a feature such as dynamic black is image artifacts and how fast the lamp dimming can react to changes onscreen, i used a variety of material for this, the list is below, i am happy to report that with dynamic black switched on i saw no artifacts in skies or transition changes, no blooming or contrast blowing out highlights, it worked and added pop to the image.
When watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 the dark shadow detail stood out on this projector, when you combine the black levels and contrast with good shadow detail you end up appreciating the fantastic image being produced by the HD50, it was very good, dark movies look excellent on this projector, no complaints so far.
I watched First Blood, the German ultimate edition, it has the original film grain structure intact, natural skin tones, better black levels, it’s a major improvement over the UK/USA edition, on this projector i thought it looked superb.
I then tried a variety of movies with lots of light and set during daytime with a lot of different scene transitions, this did sometimes trip the lamp dimming up, for example there were scenes throughout the comedy film Raising Arizona where i could see the dynamic black operation at work, it was mostly subtle, occasionally the brightness would sometimes change a half a second later than it should but mostly there would be a very subtle shift to brightness, i think the average viewer would not notice this but the home cinema fan might see this.
It’s a shame i can see dynamic black at work during some of the lighter scenes in films but it worked exceptionally well if the film was mostly dark, films such as The Descent, Alien or the Potter films looked excellent, the plus here is that you can switch dynamic black off for those lighter films and the image still looks very good, the intrascene contrast in DLP just seems to help the image look better.
I felt the colours looked natural, skintones looked very good, contrast and black levels with dynamic black turned on and a good gamma curve helped the image take on a rich and cinematic look, the thing i like about DLP is it shows the film, warts and all, if the blu ray transfer is bad then it shows it, on the other hand if the blu ray replicates the original cinema look, film grain intact, then it was there, gorgeous film like detail is wonderful to view in motion, if the movie was CGI animation with no film grain then it was smooth but detailed, the projector just gave you exactly what was on the disc, i liked that and i don’t think you can ask for any more.
I briefly tried pure motion, at various settings, it worked very well with producing clearer and better motion but i felt motion in films was too smooth, some might call it the soap opera look, it just wasn’t for me, i switched it off when watching movie content, i tried pure motion on video shot footage and it was much better, in fact i would say it works superbly for video shot footage and fast moving sports footage.
3D image quality disappointed me for one reason, brightness, the maximum brightness i could reach in torch mode was 2.7ft lambert, in calibrated mode it was 2.1ft lambert, now remember that this is on a 92inch 1.0 gain screen using bright bulb, there was no crosstalk, black levels, contrast and colours all looked very good in 3D but the brightness was a major issue, i can see no logical reason why it should be this dim in 3D, i would have expected at least 5ft lambert in 3D and wonder if firmware is limiting brightness in some way.
I thought image quality in 2D and 3D was really good but the brightness issue in 3D is a problem.
Blu ray discs used for this review include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 and 2, Zero Dark Thirty, The Descent ( Australian edition ) A Turtles Tale 3D, House of Wax 3D, Madagascar 3 3D, The Polar Express 3D, Hugo 3D, Gravity 3D, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole 2D and 3D, Oblivion, Schindlers List, Red River ( Criterion Edition ) Alien, John Carter, Star Wars, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Skyfall, Chicken Little 3D, West Side Story, First Blood ( German ultimate edition ) Chicago, Raising Arizona and Flashdance.
Click here for a quick comparison between the Optoma HD131xe and the Optoma HD50.