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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:07 am 
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Lured by an irresistible offer from my dealer to trade in my 4 year old Sony HS-50 I finally caved in to upgrade to full-HD (1920x1080).
That should finally fit my home-made movies made with the Canon HF-100, support Blu-Ray viewing (from my media-PC), and give me at least a better chance to have some fun viewing photos with a larger audience.

I took my "old" Sony to the dealer to get some serious A/B viewing versus the new Sharp with identical material from an identical player on the same screen. Buyers beware: there are lots of paramaters that influence viewing quality apart from the paramaters like contrast and color set in the projector itself. So watch out for a fully comparable viewing before you make your choice!

Well, what could I say: The comparison was quite short! The Sharp XV-Z18000 was at least twice as bright, twice as dark (even without using auto-iris*) thus giving 4x the contrast as my old machine and twice as sharp.

Unfortunately I don't have the equipment to measure it (and the Sony no longer with me) but the difference in image quality was stunning. I treated wife and myself to an evening of Deep Blue (BBC documentary by Alastair Fothergill) and even from this not very high quality DVD the brightness of the light on and under water, the colors of the animals, and the darkness of the deep sea was breathtaking. We had never seen something like this. Watch spray glint in the sunlight - marvelous.
Next up was LoTR. A nice mix of night scenes and bright outdoor settings demoed the dynamic range of what this projector is capable.

All we could say was: brilliant!

Stay tuned to find out more about the features of this superb projector...

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*auto-iris: To enhance black levels in dark scenes auto-iris or similar effects close the iris of the projection lens and adapt the gamma curve to give you really black blacks but at the cost of reducing maximum brightness in these scenes.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:03 pm 
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Well, mounting this projector on the ceiling was quite a challenge. The Sharp XV-Z18000 has only electronic tilt and shift (plus an assortment of vertical and horizontal keystone as well as spherical and trapezoidal distortion correction) - no lens shift. So if you want to use every pixel of the 1920x1080 panel you have to mount the projector and the screen in a way that you don't need any of those corrections :?
With the Sony I just put the projector in a good place perpendicular to the screen and used the hor/ver lens-shift to get the image exactly where I wanted it.
There's also the disadvantage of a very limited 1.15x zoom lens :( which doesn't give you much flexibility when choosing the best place of the projector relative to the screen.

Fortunately my old mounting position of the Sony was ideal for mounting the Sharp, I only had to switch from a 3 point mount to a 4 point mount with different distances and fiddle around with getting the projector aligned in parallel to the ceiling. As I don't use a mounting plate but only hooks and screws it took me a while to get that part right. But finally I had a near perfect match between the projected image and the screen :roll:

To award myself for this effort I pulled out our "Best of New Zealand" collection, cropped for 16:9 (or 5:4 for portrait oriented images) and off we went to test the qualities of the projector with still images.

More on this in a follow-up post...

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Btw.: some information on the smaller brother Z15000 can be found here.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:23 pm 
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My impression from viewing a lot of stills on the new projector:
- Contrast and gamma is a good match and looks very good on this projector
- Color is a bit muted in comparison to my NEC 2690 WUXi

With blueray and camcorder video material the impression of light colors was the same. As to contrast, the darks could be even darker for my liking.

So in the end I increased the gamma-curve one step (standard was measured to be 2.0 which seems low in comparison to other projectors). I left the color saturation as it was as I'm quite hesitant to overdo it and have all the other settings at standard 0 adjustment.

I have auto-iris on and there seems to be a glitch in the coordination of closing the iris and adjusting the gamma curve: At some point, when an image gets darker, there is a slight flash as if the gamma curve is already adjusted while the iris is not yet closed fully. It's not that you see this effect very often but still it annoys me a little. It certainly can be adjusted with a new firmware but who knows when an update will come out.

Btw: in certain scenes you can quite learly see that using auto-iris does not improve the contrast of a single scene: it's just that the dark scenes get darker and bright scenes brigther. I clearly saw in dark scenes that auto-iris (together with the necessary gamma-curve correction) traded highlight differentiation for shadow-detail. As this is the case with all aperture adapting projectors it is tantamount to select a projector that has a good contrast even without any auto-iris effects. That determines the ability to give you the maximum viewing pleasure in each single scene and is normally measured as ANSI contrast which measures the difference between the brightest white and the darkest black in a single scene! This is around 300-500 (equivalent to about 9 stops) with good projectors but can be as low as 100 (7 stops) at lesser makes.
The incredible 20,000:1 contrast ratios that some projectors achieve using iris adjustments between bright scenes and dark scenes is nice but no substitute for a good ANSI contrast!

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:42 pm 
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Finally I got hold of the BlueRay version of the BBC documentation.
Ah yes, that was even better. Now you get the resolution that fits the power of the projector.
I ran it in parallel to the Toshiba LCD TV. The results:
- still the TV clearly has the higher brightness than the projector
- but it was also clear that even in high brightness scenes (like arctical ice) the TV set was awful in reproducing dark/shadowy parts.
There was much more definitition in the dark parts even of bright scenes from the projector than from the TV. So apart from the higher max brightness there was nothing in favour of the TV set.
Also the rendering of delicate color differences was disturbed by banding effects on the TV whereas the projector rendered smooth transitions of low color gradients.
(both were fed via HDMI interface)

Very good!

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