Posterization and Banding:
Before I sold my 1100ES I was having an issue that I thought on affected my specific unit. There was prominent banding and especially posterization within the image. When I first had my unit it was a 1000ES and I had bought the upgrade kit from AVScience and scheduled to send in the unit to have upgraded to an 1100ES. I had contacted Sony ES support and told them about the issue I was seeing and they made a special note for the technicians doing the upgraded motherboard to look into the issue while it was there for the upgrade. Once the upgrade was done I was informed the posterization and banding issue was taken care of and the unit was sent back to me. Upon arrival I powered the unit up and immediately noticed it was still there. I contacted Sony and told them that it was still there and they had it sent in under the impression that it was damaged in shipment back to me. The prognosis was that there was an issue with the SXRD panels that new ones needed to be replaced. But to do this most of the optical engine, minus the lens, needs to be ordered as apparently you cannot order just SXRD panels. Sony was out of stock and I needed to wait a month for new stock to arrive. A month went by and they replaced the light engine. I received the unit back and, yup, the issue was still there. At this point, considering most of the projector was brand new between both visits I was under the impression that this was “normal” behavior for an 1100ES. So between the contrast loss and obvious issues with something in either the video processing chain or how the SXRD panels are driven I decided to cut my losses and sell the unit.
About a month later I was sent a PM asking if I too saw posterization within the image. Imagine my surprise to find out that my suspicions were true, in that all units seem to be affected by this issue. I then contacted Andreas21 and Ekki of cine4home, as they’ve seen dozens of these units combined, to see if they too have seen this issue on every single one of the units. They said “yes”
What Does The Issue Look Like?
It is most prevalent with similar color pixels neighboring each other. Due to this phenomenon it’s easy to see it in faces, shadows and solid color things like blue skies, and clouds.
Posterization in Faces:
Posterization in the Sky:
Banding in Greyscale Ramps in Service Menu Patterns:
You can clearly make out the banding in cine4home’s review images:
More banding in other reviews:
These images were taken from Zombie10k's RS600 vs VW1100ES shootout which clearly show the posterization there in the image on the 1100ES and no there in the RS600's image:
Sony top, JVC bottom. You can see some of the posterization artifacts around the nose and face. It makes fine image details appear dirty when compared to the original frame.
So Why Is This A Problem?
The first thing I’ll say is that there is a ton of fine image detail that essentially gets erased by the posterization that occurs. This is because there are now “patches” of what looks like low bit depth image information on screen. They look like blobs of the same color pixels.
The member who originally contacted me asking if I had seen the issue was doing an A/B shootout between an RS600 and the 1100ES and it immediately stuck out because the issue wasn’t there on the RS600. He also made a very good point about what this issue seems to do to the image, in that, it can make it appear to be sharper due to the posterization zones created stark differences in contrast. It creates hard edges of contrast difference on screen and this can make our brains think the image is sharper. This is in essence what a Darbee Darblet does, but without creating posterization. The Darblet just intensifies contrast between neighboring light and dark pixels. While doing his A/B he thought that this may be why some people may think the 1100ES is sharper than a JVC for example with 1080p content even though the 1100ES is actually showing less fine image detail than the JVC is. A question I have is not one I’m sure anyone can answer but how does this affect color resolution on screen? Sony claims the panels are 12 bit and while this may be true, it seems what actually gets displayed on screen can sometimes appear less than 8 bit due to the posterization. I also tested sending the 1100ES 12 bit 4:4:4 information so that the projector didn’t need to dither and the issue was still there. What's going to happen when we get 10bit color on UHD bluray? How will the 1100ES cope with this new bit depth information and will it be able to display it properly?
So What Isn’t Causing This Issue?
I wanted to be 100% sure this wasn’t source related or related to some type of setting enabled (or disabled) within the projector. I ran the gamut by disabling almost every feature the projector has to verify it wasn’t one of the many video processing suites the projector is capable of running. The issue is there regardless of input resolution (720p, 1080p, UHD, and 4K), frame rate (24, 25, 30, and 60 were tested) , bit depth (8, 10, and 12 were tested), chroma subsampling (4:2:0, 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 were tested), sending the projector either RGB or YCbCr, with or without Reality Creation enabled, with or without Smooth Gradation enabled, with or without 3D enabled, with or without pixel convergence correction enabled, with or without color correction enabled, with or without Motion Flow enabled, with or without the manual or dynamic iris enabled, with or without the DCI P3 filter in place, with either HDMI port, before and after the 1000ES to 1100ES motherboard swap and the banding issue is even there when looking at the internal test patterns inside the service menu so that is something can be verified as a “projector” issue and not a source related issue. I tried my HTPC, FiOS cable set top box, and three different blu-ray players and the issue was there on them all.
It's been hypothesized by me and a few others that this issue is due to how Sony is physically driving the SXRD panels. There seems to be some sort of limitation in color information getting to the panels. It's either that or there is a major flaw in how this projector handles color processing. It doesn't seem to dither properly. What we get within the image seems almost less than 8bit in color. It's also been noted that this posterization can be mistaken for added sharpness within the image. This is because stark transitions in the gradations of color and contrast occur due to the poserization and banding. These hard lines can give the appearance of extra sharpness within the image even though these stark contrast lines do not occur within the source.