More recently the issue of brightness, and more severely, contrast loss reports on Sony 4K projectors have been reported. This issue also effects 1080p SXRD panels. This thread is to help make people aware of the issue and to get people to measure their units and report here what their findings are. This will hopefully lead to an official word from Sony about a possible fix for future SXRD based Sony projectors. This is a hardware issue and not something that can be reversed through a firmware update. Though it may be possible to halt or slow down the effects by changing how these projectors work electronically. Hopefully this thread will help an update come.
It has been speculated that contrast and brightness loss due to panel degradation is common among all LCD-variant units. While this may be true to some extent, it is no where near as fast acting like it is on Sony's SXRD panels. Remember this contrast and brightness loss seems to start to happen around the 500 hour mark and goes downhill pretty quickly from that point. Recently cine4home, a German professional review site, measured many of the JVC DLA-X500 units they sold to customers before they sold these units and then after a long period of time. Most of the units had in excess of 600 hours on them and showed a slight brightness increase with basically no loss in contrast, color gamut shrinkage or any other dramatic change. Those findings can be found here
Ekki of cine4home recently posted that he has started measuring Sony SXRD projectors and plans to have a write up regarding his findings. I have PM'ed him and asked him to message me when he has those results. These should be very accurate before and after contrast/brightness loss measurements since each unit they sold and remeasured has a report on what that unit measured when it was sold. These are the "C4H" edition units, aka cherry picked units, that people can buy pre-calibrated and to know they bought a unit that was top performing.
So What Is The Issue?
As far back as few years ago, there have been scattered reports from members on the forum that they've experienced a large loss in contrast performance with their Sony SXRD projector. In the Sony VPL-vw1000 thread, a lengthy discussion about the issue started here
. If you want to, read through several pages and I suggest you do it as it will be more informative then this thread alone, but I will quote some of the more interesting and pertinent information obtained in that discussion below:
This was a post talking about one THX calibrator's experience with contrast loss on Sony SXRD projectors:
Originally Posted by Saar1
Here's some rather negative news. Copied from a private forum for THX certified calibrators and written by one of my European counterparts. I have about 500 hours on my 600 but never did measure black level when I calibrated it new, and the picture has remained so good that I haven't bothered putting my meter back on it. Knowing that the 600 never had the greatest black level I've always done my best to ignore it.
An other "big fly in the ointment" is that the Sony SXRD panels "self destructs". After a few hundred hours its black-level is raised quite a lot, the gamma is totally off, and on/off contrast is reduced to half the contrast of a new projector.
The problem is an issue I have observed in a lot of Sony projectors. After a couple of hundred hours, that gamma starts changing quite drastically in the low end of the grayscale, as the projectors black level i raised. Often a default gamma of 2.2 vil measure below 1.8 from 0 to 30-40 IRE, and from there and upward it measures a somewhat correct 2.2. The impact on picture quality is poor black-level, and severe loss of contrast. This is not unique to VW300/350/500/600/1000/1100, but is observed in all Sony projectors. It seams like the optical engine deteriorates over time, with lower light output in the bright end, and at the same time light output in the dark end is raised quite a lot. Often I have to recommend customers with HW projectors to by a video processor, to be able to calibrate a somewhat linear gamma. This will unfortunately not solve the problem with raised black level, its gamma correction only. I usually measure between 6-7000:1 native on/off contrast on the VW1000/1100, and after less than 1000 hours operation, the contrast is refused to less than 3000:1, often as low as 2300:1. All my clients have sold their Sony 4K's, as Sony offer no solution or repair.
Sony has developed a software for calibrating multipoint gamma in their premium projectors, called "Projector Calibration Pro". I tried to correct some of this issues with the Sony Projector Calibration Pro software, but it didn’t work. The reason for this is that their gamma equalizer isn’t working properly. When calibrating gamma, adjustments done at one point in the gamma equalizer, is affecting the points over and under the one that is being adjusted. That way, it is impossible to obtain a linear gamma. I also encountered quite a lot of color banding when using the gamma equalizer.
To make this tool work, engineers have to look at the width off impact each adjustment point affects. This needs to be perfect, so that each adjustment point reaches the next adjustment point, but with no overlapping. Getting this perfect is mandatory to be able to calibrate gamma without generating banding.
I would also like to have a 21-point gamma adjustment possibility. Todays software can chose between 10-point and 64-point. 64-point is very time-consuming, and 10-point is a bit imprecise. One of the reasons I would prefer a 21-point scale, is that most high-end test pattern generators have 21-point patterns as maximum. This has been reported back to Sony engineers, but there still is no updated calibration tool. If it indeed worked perfect, it would of course not recover the loss of on/off contrast, merely correct gamma.
The reason I write this, is so that you guys don't end like I did, recommending a projector that turns out to self-destructs within a short timespan. It does not seem to be any improvement in the upcoming 2016 models either, since they use the same panels as the 2014/2015 models. The newest full-HD panels (for example the HW55) deteriorates much slower than the 4K panels.
If you read through the posts there were a few other members who had measured their units and showed significant losses in contrast. These 1000ES/1100ES started with native contrast between 14000:1-17000:1 (depending on throw and unit to unit variation) and end up with contrast as low as 2000:1 before their unit even hit 2000 hours of use.
Some various quotes from members regarding the issue:
Originally Posted by RS3771
There's definitely some truth to this I think. I've been scratching my head over what on Earth happened to my Sony's (1100) black levels since about six months - I've had the PJ since 2 years. Image is still stunning like new - but definitely see a degradation of black levels over time - I played with all this gamma and black level stuff - and nothing seems to matter. The whole screen - like when you turn on the PJ - which is used to be pitch black during the first year or so is now looking grey - and nothing I've done seems to be resetting to this the original levels. Of course, when I pop in blurays with good black levels, all seems to be fine - but I've noticed inconsistent black levels when the source material's black levels are not optimal - and I suspect the PJ is partly to blame although I don't know anything about gamma droop and all those terms you guys are throwing out there. What makes it amusing is Sony prides itself for exceptional black levels and a contrast ratio of a million:1. I'm planning on upgrading to 5000ES three years down the road if there's nothing better than that at that price point.
Originally Posted by Mark_H
Having calibrated my 1000 many times over the past couple of years I've definitely noticed that the gamma changes, and it's usually when I notice that I do a re-cal. But after calibration all looks great again. I've always put this down to bulb changes, but based on all of the above, perhaps not... Anyway, once calibration is redone and the gamma curve is restored (via Lumagen 17^3 LUT) the image is once again fantastic.
I measured ON/OFF on the last calibration (26' throw, wide open iris) at ~7000:1. This was using a Klein K10-A measuring off the screen. Pretty certain the first time I measured the projector when new it was higher... but that may just be memory lapse.
My biggest problem is uniformity. On a 100 IRE white field it is clearly wrong these days. I don't notice during films but it's definitely there and am concerned it will only get worse over time.
Originally Posted by turls
...I've been talking about SXRD degradation on this thread since 2012. The following post from well over a year ago was the first time I had proof...I'm not sure all 3 of my units had the issue, so YMMV.
This is something I might need to worry about getting corrected every two years or so. YMMV depending on high/low lamp, and amount of use. Still would not pick another projector. But also wouldn't invest in a 5000.
January 2012 when I first brought up the concern--
From earlier this year, kind of a good point I made if I do say so myself:
My calibrator noted degradation between multiple trips, but no where near as bad as the previous issues on earlier generations. No consensus here on that either. If it was a major problem you would be hearing a lot more than from me by now. However, the bottom line is there is organic material in this design, so it seems to be that it is never going to be like DLP for longetivity. I would never buy a used unit without knowing the exact history (from my experience).
Originally Posted by mirodk
My VW1000ES3 has now 1450 hours on the lamp.
I have made some contrast measurements, Iris OFF, lamp on high, and it measures around 2133: 1 in contrast.
That's crazy - a new Sony VPL-VW1000 has a contrast level of approximately 15.000 to 18.000:1 in this setting.
The projector is now over 2 years old.
Originally Posted by stevenjw
OK, I figured out how to get the 0 IRE measurements using my meter at about 1.5 feet from and facing the projector. I came up with a contrast ratio with IRIS off, Lamp High, Contrast 100, and Brightness 50 of only 3700:1.
This is a new lamp. The projector is just over 2 years old with just under 1900 hours on it. I guess I just got used to the raised black floor over time and ignorance was bliss. Looking objectively at the 0 IRE screen, it's definitely too bright. This is not bliss and the drop in contrast is unacceptable for a relatively new projector still under 3 yr warranty (I think) that wasn't cheap. Add in the $2500 upgrade for crap I didn't need and a board with no HDR support, I'm even more pissed now. There's definitely something going on here that Sony needs to address.
Where do I sign up for the new class action lawsuit!!!!
Seriously, are there any lawyers in this thread? Send me a PM and let's get the ball rolling....
Contrast loss is also an issue that effects 1080p SXRD panels as well. Some detailed information regarding that can be found here
It should also be noted that there is little in the way of knowing exactly what causes the issue. Ekki over at cine4home seems to have some information pertaining to the issue and he states that:
Originally Posted by Cine4Home
...BTW: UV and heat have NOTHING at all to do with this (in contrary). Everyone who says otherwise is not as much of an expert as he claims to be.
Originally Posted by Cine4Home
I do not want to offend anyone, but an "expert" should not spread false information. The claim that D-ILA projectors lose contrast is as false as the claim that SXRD / D-ILA suffers from UV and heat.
SXRD / D-ILA are inorganic.
A heavy Gamma / Color space drift with the Sony HW series is already being discussed for over a year in Germany. Some older HW/VW machines show also a contrast loss (not all though). Again, these things have nothing to do with excessive use. In contrary, heavy used machines hardly degrade at all.
The 4K models do not show the same Gamma drift / CS-shrinkage because of their PWM gamma. However, if the black level of the 4K models can degrade under certain circumstances (like the HW series), we started to check last week.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Forum Member W.Mayer in the $20,000+ subforum currently has a Sony VPL-VW5000ES and has spoken directly to the Sony engineers who delivered it and helped set this unit up. His remarks show that Sony does in fact know about this issue (English is not his first language):
Originally Posted by W.Mayer
Yes I talk about the cr.drop with the VIPs from Sony during their stay here.
. suffer from degradation over time one more than the other but Sony have taken action to address this issue they told me.
The last generation 300/500Models already got some improvements with should make it better and as Sony told me they working on further improvements on this as well.
When a VW1100 (I have measure about 9-10K:1 cr. from 5 units in early 2012)witch have 9500:1 cr.and it lost over some years some cr. so you end up with about 4000 to 5000:1.
That looks together in combination with a dynamic Iris not bad!
Now as the 5000 have almost double this cr. in the beginning you should have in some years may 9000:1 a good number very close to the VW1100 number when you compare it with a brand new one.
On top is the new Laser dimming function that is may better than any adaptive iris as there is likely not any clipping!
But this is all theory no one knows for sure if may because of a Laser the drop is not as big as compare with a lamp based pr
Also have to take into account under what circumstances this pr
. works( humidity,smoking room or not, much dust in the air or not,use it many times a week or just 1 time a months and so on) so all this can affect the issue above.
There have been reports from Sony that the newest 65ES 1080p SXRD projector has some countermeasures in place to prevent contrast loss. We don't currently know what these countermeasures are and if/how effective they will be. This is also the only projector that has been commented on about any types of countermeasures being take to prevent contrast loss. Other units don't seem to have such countermeasures in place. This was reported by Ekki of Cine4home:
Originally Posted by Cine4Home
- Sony never releases native contrast numbers for any of their home theater projectors,
- They did launch countermeasures, for example in their new HW65 series.
How Can I Measure My Unit?
To get the ball rolling and get more users to post their contrast performance, we need people to measure their units. This is fairly easy to do and only requires a lux meter, tripod, and a couple test patterns. Free 0% Black and 100% White full screen test patterns can be obtained here
if you don't have a way on your own to display these test patterns. If you don't have a lux meter you can obtain one of two relatively cheap ones here
from Amazon. The latter being more accurate but more expensive. A guide on how to use the lux meter can be found here
and this guide can be used for any lux meter, not just the one listed in the thread title to measure on/off contrast.
If you currently own any Sony SXRD projector from the past few years I highly recommend you get the hardware and software needed to measure your unit. This is especially so if you've dished out a ton of money for one the expensive 4K models. As noted above, this is an issue that appears to effect ALL
current SXRD projectors. If you do measure your projectors, please post the results here. There are various reviews for projectors out there that can be used to obtain what native contrast was when these units were new. I highly suggest reading reviews from cine4home.de or soundandvision.com and check out their reviews as their numbers for contrast in their reviews are very trustworthy.