And finally, after ceiling mounting the RS57>>>
Side by Side comparison of Mits 3800 vs JVC RS57 (X700).
Last night I was finally able to do a side by side comparison of these PJ's on the same screen at the same time. Previously I had relied on video memory (the brain kind--so not so good), and the blocking of the lens method (both PJ's on same screen, blocking 1 lens image--alternating)--better.
But to me the best comparison is side by side at the same time. To achieve this I had to shift the (now ceiling mounted) JVC image to one side while projecting the 3800 on the other side of the screen. But since I was using ALL of the JVC's vertical shift, I had to shift the JVC image back up so high to free up horizontal shift enough to project the 3800 image on the other side (though I couldn’t get it past the ½ width mark). End result is each projector was using only about 1/4 of the screen. And the 3800 image was a bit smaller too (could not get the 3800 back far enough in table mount mode to make the images the same size).
Both PJ's were about equal brightness by my eyes.
I'm running a small 80" diagonal 16:9 gray screen, .9 gain.
RS57 was -12 Iris and auto 2 dynamic iris.
3800 was in low lamp mode.
First up was 'Lucy' blu ray....the beginning scenes where Lucy is at the swanky hotel arguing with her male friend about the 'package'. These are close up outside daytime head shots mostly and very detailed (was a 4k shot movie). Then the scenes inside the hotel lobby while Lucy is at the reception desk (black suit) and the shot of the 'goons' walking in---all dressed in black suits
>>>Overall Sharpness> Edge to the 3800. Not a huge difference, but certainly noticeable. What was also noticeable was the pixel grid on the 3800 vs the RS57 at close range (not viewing range). Even in 1080p mode on the RS57 (so not quasi 4k mode), the RS57 pixels were practically invisible on my somewhat textured screen. When I set the focus on the RS57 I have to use a white sheet of printer paper against my screen to make out the pixel grid, otherwise it gets lost on my textured screen. With the 3800 the thicker pixel lines are easy to see on my textured screen. I know that 'sharpness' perception is somewhat fooled by well-defined pixel structures vs an image w/o obvious pixel grids, so that might be what is going on here. I have no real way to rule this out as I can't make either PJ's pixel visibility the same. So I can only say the 3800 'looks' sharper.
And there's the single chip DLP vs the 3 chip JVC that isn't perfectly converged. The JVC lens is certainly superior, but perhaps it just can't fully make up for the single chip advantage. And/or they are about equal in actual sharpness and it was just more 'perception' due to the more visible pixel structure on the 3800.
Also>> the 3800 image was about 20% smaller than the RS57 image. That also might of made the 3800 image ‘appear’ sharper.
AND!...the RS57 was lens shifted all the way to one side, so that might have had some effect on sharpness too.
>>>Focus uniformity> Big win for the RS57 here. Not going by this side-by-side test here, but going by focusing both PJ’s across the whole screen, the RS57 has pretty good pixel grid focus across most of the screen. In comparison the 3800 was pretty darn crappy here. I could say focus the pixels in the center sharp, but the pixels outside of the center area were defocused, and vice versa if I focused the pixels at the corners (like where the drop down menu pops up), the center area pixels will not be in focus. I think the best I could do was maybe have about 40% of the 3800’s pixels in focus at once.
>>>POP> Gonna have to give a slight edge to the 3800 here as well. As well dialed in as I have my RS57, and as much 'Pop' I thought it had (perhaps surpassing my 3800 which I hadn’t viewed in 2 months), seeing them side by side showed the 3800 was a little bit clearer and had a little bit more Pop than the RS57. No adjustments on gamma/brightness/contrast could make the RS57 compete here. But these were small differences that I could only notice in a side by side viewing.
>>>Contrast, bright scenes> It appears the 3800 has the slight edge. As mentioned above, the 3800 had a little more Pop to it. Perhaps this is the 3800's superior ansi contrast in play here, it's about double the ansi contrast of JVC PJ's. There's been a lot of debate on the merits of ansi contrast values vs native contrast, but it just seems the 3800 has a slight edge here by eye.
>>>>Shadow Detail> I did not see much difference here between these 2 PJ's. Of course one could bump up the brightness (or gamma) on either PJ to get more shadow detail, but at the expense of black level and/or increasing overall image haze. But with each PJ adjusted individually using calibration discs for brightness/contrast/gamma, then some final tweaks by eye over the course of months/years (for the 3800 at least), it seem both had similar shadow details....with the edge going to the JVC for the shadows being just 'blacker' w/o black crush. I was expecting to perhaps get more shadow detail with the RS57 along with blacker blacks, but it seems the shadow detail is about the same, just not has hazy and gray.
The 3800 was known to have good or great(?) shadow detail back in the day and it seemed to have played that card here as well.
Overall there wasn't much difference here between these PJ's on bright content. I'd give a slight edge to the 3800 overall. Quite an achievement for a 7 year old tech PJ costing about $1200 new, vs the RS57 from 4 years ago @ $8k!
Next disc was Prometheus Blu Ray.
Ok, here's where the RS57 shines! Or lack of the 'shine', lol. I'm just gonna focus on dark scene content here.
>>Contrast/blacks/shadows> The one thing I noticed right off the bat between these PJ's is the no-image black screen side by side. The 3800 is a bloody torch in comparison! The RS57 was just black as black can be---in comparison. A big win here for the RS57, no contest at all. Do remember I'm running -12 on manual iris and auto 2 on the dynamic, so it really clamps down in a no image black screen. In comparison it appeared the RS57 wasn't even 'on'. Surprisingly this stark difference wasn't as obvious in space shots with the spaceship. Yes you could notice the 'space' was blacker with the RS57, but not as drastic as a no image black frame shows. My guess is that on this Blu ray, the black space was just not authored/shot to be at the darkest level. Perhaps it would look too weird and/or less real if they did that. Hence the differences here are not as drastic.
But the cave shot at the beginning of the movie, where Rapace first breaks through the rock, it stars off totally black until she breaks through and light comes through that hole. RS57 is just black here while the 3800 is of course brighter on the blacks....hazy black/grays in comparison.
Later in the flick, the inner tunnels shots, again the RS57 just provides a more solid black/contrasty image in comparison to the 3800, no real surprise there. But again, I was still surprised the actual shadow 'detail' was about the same between them.
>>>Dark scene Pop> Edge to the RS57 for its superior native contrast/blacks. But it has to be a fairly dark scene. A mixed dark scene scenario seems to bring the RS57 more into line with the 3800, though in a side by side you can still see the RS57 has better blacks.
Overall with dark to very dark scenes the win obviously goes to the RS57, with a bigger margin towards the RS57 the darker the scene gets.
That being said, the Mits 3800 is one mighty PJ for its age and original cost. Mind you, I dialed in my 3800 pretty good so that it popped good in bright scenes and did well in darks too. I'm super happy with my RS57 and the reasonings for upgrading to it were confirmed: Better contrast/blacks in darker scenes. I was hoping to not lose too much bright scene pop/sharpness vs the 3800 and essentially I did not. But there also didn't ‘appear’ to be any gains in that regard.
I waited 7 years to upgrade and I'm glad I did. The 3800 is still a damn good PJ, especially for it's used value (sold mine to a friend). Viewing 'my' 3800 side-by-side to the RS57 only confirmed that. The $2k I paid for my RS57 (which came with an extra new OEM lamp thrown in) minus the $$ from selling my 3800 made the upgrade a no brainer for me. The RS57 is a perfect fit for my smaller screen---the newer JVC's have way more firepower for way bigger screens. I think I would have taken a black level hit with the brighter JVC's on my small screen hence the RS57/X700 (or X500/RS49/RS4910) were a better fit for ‘me’.
So overall a very happy camper! And my friend is getting a damn good 3800!