My deepest appreciation and respect go out to many people on AVSForum, HiDefJunkies, the SpectraCal folks, and especially to Jason C. Turk. What you read below is my understanding and the mistakes are mine.
Any purchase of the 8500ub should be verified to be firmware v1.02. If you are buying used, then have Epson update your machine. Most of the problems associated with the 8500ub, (and described in excruciating detail on the AVSForum between Oct. 2009 – Mar. 2010) have been solved with firmware updates by Epson. It seems the QC issues experienced by early implementers of the 8500ub are solved. Getting the 8500ub to display the AFTER SERVICE screen from the remote or from the projector control panel:
1. Hold the MENU button for more than 5 seconds…. Then within four seconds In rapid succession
2. press the ESC button twice
3. Press the right (arrow) key
4. Press the left (arrow) key
It is frustrating but does work, eventually. Based on my experience (with the 6500ub too,) a quick run of the key sequence is best without waiting at all.
Mounting and squaring off the PJ and screen are beyond the scope of this summary; however, there are no special issues with the 8500ub. Complaints about lens drift decrease substantially with machines placed into service after the 1st Q of 2010. Bulb life, cooling issues and bulb replacement are discussed elsewhere.
With regards to calibration, the general rules apply. If you are going to buy the services of an ISF technician, it is wise to wait for the bulb to run for at least 50 hours, if not 100 hours, in order to stabilize the light/color output. If your local technician is familiar with the 8500ub then all the better. Otherwise, the certified calibrators who participate in AVSForums are excellent resources and have made their expertise available by phone and email at very reasonable hourly rates.
If you are going to calibrate the 8500ub with DIY/Home equipment and software, then be sure to consider this basic setup to run a full workflow calibration.
1. Give the PJ a 45-60 min warm up before calibrating
2. Is the room is DARK? Get your best dark conditions in place to calibrate.
3. Start with the Theatre Black Mode 1 for the calibration run.
4. Iris is OFF
5. Set color temp to 6500K (not possible in THX mode)
6. Lamp ECO (unless you are projecting a long distance and need the NORM mode)
7. HDMI Extended (to get blacker than black…verify your HDMI source is not doing any color management)
8. 4:4 Pulldown ON
9. Frame Interpolation OFF
Make sure your probe/software for calibration are warmed up and initialized. Many 8500ub users notice a slight color shift across the screen below 60-70% white. Therefore, probe pickoff is from the middle of the screen at viewing height. Place the probe/sensor close (4-6 inches) to the screen out of its own shadow. Direct from the lens PJ readings will not take room conditions and the screen into consideration in the final calibration. So use screen reflected light calibration readings for the best result.
Get your favorite patterns up on the screen and adjust brightness and contrast. Depending on your setup the PJ does has enough lumens so dial down the contrast (so that WHITE bars in the 240-250 range are visible.) Get the brightness correct and do not go below black. Based on my results, (give or take) expect:
10. Brightness will end up in the -8 range (~16)
11. Contrast will end up in the +4 range or less(~245)
If you are checking RGB tracking (10 – 100% brightness 6500K); then use 30% and 80% white to adjust the RGB gain and offset. It will take two and sometimes three passes to get these adjusted, as gain and offset do interact. It is possible to get RGB tracking flat with the 8500ub.
As many 6500ub, 7500ub and 8500ub users have commented, a consistent gamma 2.2 is possible by setting the custom gamma sliders. Problems appear to occur at the 80-100% white range. This is caused by the contrast setting being too high. Set 100% white too bright (with contrast) and you run out of slider control in the gamma graph menu. So go back to your contrast screen pattern; and dial down the contrast as needed ( 245-250 bars visible?) then re-adjust the gamma in the gamma menu.
Do you plan on doing a full calibration accessing CMS management on the 8500ub? As has been described numerous times on the AVSForum, calibrating the CMS in the Epson series requires using 75% Saturation in the D65 Rec 709 gamut. This is essential for getting good results with the 8500ub.
Descriptions for this gamut are available and go back to stereomandan in 2009. See http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...710&highlight=
Calibrating with 75% Saturation can be done at 75% Brightness or 100% Brightness; just verify your software gamut settings, select the correct patterns from your source, so that the luminance and saturation will be correct when running the gamut. NOTE the intsructions and gamut in stereoman thread in AVSForum from 2009 specifically calls out for calibrating at 75% saturation and 100% brightness; at a gamma of 2.2 .... using the AVSHD disc.
12. On the top menu:
a. SKIN TONE for +2. This will give you some adjusting room to correct skin tones when playing/viewing problematic sources.
b. COLOR to 0 (this will be changed when checking RED)
c. TINT to 0 (this will stay unchanged for a full CMS calibration)
13. Check RED first. On the top menu adjust the COLOR control and find the level that gets closest to target RED. Then adjust RED (RGBCMY x,y,Y) to target. Verify with the COLOR control (on the top menu) that RED is on target. This is the final COLOR setting in the top menu.
14. Check and resolve GREEN. There have been numerous postings about difficulty with getting BLUE on target with the 8500ub. It appears that this problem has been resolved with firmware v1.02 and BLUE can be resolved without running to the limits of the control sliders.
15. Finish resolving RGBCMY x,y,Y for the secondary colors.
Go ahead and save your work to a memory location. Then go back and check your 6500K white target, and verify that brightness and contrast are correct with the appropriate patterns. Of course, the final check is to use your favorite reference material to check the settings. Preferences for using the AUTO IRIS and Frame Interpolation are thoroughly discussed on the forums. All things being equal, and assuming your equipment is in good and calibrated condition, the final result should be one dynamite picture with deep blacks, vibrant accurate colors, and superb natural skin tones.
For those watching DVD’s of original B&W movies, go ahead and do a 5400K white calibration. You’ll find the gamma stays stable. Save that to a different memory location. Remember that Blu-Ray movies done in B&W (including old movie restorations) are intended for viewing at D65 Rec 709 with the source material providing all CMS information for decoding to get the B&W effect desired.
When viewing source material in a lit room (sports, news, etc.) the THX mode seems to do a very good job right out of the box. As discussed on the forums, trying to calibrate the THX mode can be frustrating.
So, take the effort to calibrate and adjust the 8500ub for ideal viewing conditions for your best source material. Use the TXH mode for everything else. With my deepest respects to the regular contributors on AVSForum, may all of you enjoy a peaceful and prosperous 2011.
...finally retired and spending time in my HT!!!
My equipment consists of:
Epson 9500 UB Projector; 110" JKP Affinity Screen; Panasonic BD30 Player, Toshiba HDA1 Player; Definitive Speakers (Center, Towers, Rear); Onkyo 608 A/V Receiver; Nevo Q50 Remote; TW HD Cable Box.
Flesh tones render better with the 8500ub. Colors in general is a bit more natural more and finely textured. Frame Interpolation (at low settings) works extremely well. We don't manually go into our Blu-Ray player menu to force 24-frame of regular DVD source material.
The blacks are very rich; however, it is only with 'reference' Blu-Ray source material that the improvement jumps out. With regards to black, poorly produced Blu-Ray transfers of older movies and old movies on DVD sources don't seem to be improved, however, there is more room to make small adjusts to optimize PQ with 'old' material.
Overall, there is a noticeable improvement in PQ, and for the cost of doing the upgrade we are very satisfied.