Brief review of the Panamorph Phoenix Lens with a Sony 40ES - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-15-2016, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Brief review of the Panamorph Phoenix Lens with a Sony 40ES

A few call outs before we begin:

1) I'm posting here because as an entry level A lens I believe this is a better fit for this forum and projectors like the 40ES or Epson 5030. I realize A lenses are not as popular here but most folks in the $3000+ forum would probably choose one of Panamorph's higher end products.

2) I'm only been researching projectors for about a year and this is my first A lens. So I have nothing to personally compare it to and any mistakes in setup are likely my own rather than a failing of the lens. I'm open to suggestions on how I can improve things.

3) I pre-ordered early. So I only paid $995. The price has since gone up. So any mentions I make of value should take that into account.

4) I'm working with a temporary setup while waiting for my house to be finished. I'm projecting a 45 inch tall image from a throw of about 14 feet (minimum distance for the lens). Projector lens in roughly at the bottom of the image so vertical lens shift is minimal and I'm using no horizontal shift. I'm within the proper throw ratio of the lens, but the throw distance is the minimum suggested. When I move I'll be able to place it a few feet further back.

First Impressions/ Build Quality

My first impression was good. Despite the housing being made out of plastic it feels solid. The housing is smooth to the touch but visually appears a bit 'wavy' (for lack of a better term). Nothing that I would notice in the dark though when the unit is mounted so it's not an issue at all. When projecting you can see some VERY slight light leakage from the seams in the middle of the housing but nothing that would brighten the room or be distracting.

Included Mount

I selected the XM-1. It also seems well constructed and includes pretty much everything you might need with one exception. The 40ES requires use of pretty much ALL of the provided spacers but I didn't have screws of the proper length on hand to mount the projector mount through the XM-1 and the spacers. But I don't expect Panamorph to provide screws for very possible ceiling mount combination so this is certainly more than acceptable. They otherwise provide everything else you might need from what I can tell.

My only complaint is that I wish it was possible to bring the Phoenix lens a little bit closer to the projector's lens. With the XM-1 I can only get about as close as a half inch between them. This could very well be a non-issue however.

Convergence, ECC, Focus, Brightness and Pincushion

Setting convergence was not a problem and only took a few minutes. As this was a temporary setup I didn't obsess over it for days. I performed the ECC corrections before completely dialing in the lens positioning wise but slight physical adjustments didn't seem to affect things. I only required a slight adjustment to red, but blue...especially on the right side of the image required the maximum adjustment to the left. But it looks fine now and certainly no worse than when I used ECC without the A lens in place. If you hate ECC the amount of adjustment required may bother you, but I use it anyways so I'm not overly concerned.

Focus seemed unaffected by the lens. I do have a bit of pincushion but I've noticed by adjusting the tilt of the lens this changes (The manual also mentions this of course). I was able to get it to an acceptable level and I fully expect to remove it entirely when I adjust the lens in it's final home with a bordered screen.

Brightness may have taken a slight hit but I haven't used a meter so I may just be imagining it.

Action items /Final Thoughts

I still need to test 1.85:1 movies with the lens in place to see if I'm bothered by the loss of resolution.

Overall I'm pleased with the lens and the price I paid for it.

I've added a few quick and dirty pictures of the lens.
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Home Theater: Sony 40ES, Panamorph Phoenix, Yamaha RX-V673, NHT Super Ones/Zeroes w/Ten Sub,
Sony BDP-S5500, Darbee Darblet and Silver Ticket 125 inch 2.35:1 White Material Screen
Living room: Sony 60NX720, VIZIO, SB4051-C0, Sony BDPS3500 Patio: Epson 2040
Displays calibrated with HCFR, i1DisplayPro, and Colormunki Photo.

Last edited by AMartin56; 01-15-2016 at 08:26 AM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-15-2016, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Home Theater: Sony 40ES, Panamorph Phoenix, Yamaha RX-V673, NHT Super Ones/Zeroes w/Ten Sub,
Sony BDP-S5500, Darbee Darblet and Silver Ticket 125 inch 2.35:1 White Material Screen
Living room: Sony 60NX720, VIZIO, SB4051-C0, Sony BDPS3500 Patio: Epson 2040
Displays calibrated with HCFR, i1DisplayPro, and Colormunki Photo.
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-15-2016, 01:31 PM
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Thanks for the review!

Do you by any chance have any pics showing the light leakage? Or more pics in general for that matter.

Thanks again!
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-15-2016, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Cler View Post
Thanks for the review!

Do you by any chance have any pics showing the light leakage? Or more pics in general for that matter.

Thanks again!
Hopefully I can take more pictures this weekend.

Regarding the light 'leakage'. There is a seam on each side of the lens housing. When the projector is on and you have your face right next to the lens you can see a small bit of light shining through. I mentioned it in attempt to be as thorough as possible with my observations. But it really isn't an issue IMO. It's not enough to illuminate anything.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-15-2016, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I should also add that I watched a little bit of Pacific Rim with the lens in place. It's 1.85:1 and a movie I'm very familiar with (I watched it a lot while learning to calibrate my plasma). I personally didn't find the lost resolution distracting. I'm aware of how the math works and what I'm losing but in practice it didn't really seem to matter that much.

With a ceiling mount and manual zoom I was never going to use the zoom method with my 40ES. I may eventually experiment with some sort of transport but for now I think a fixed lens is an okay compromise. Of course you could make the argument that for $3k (my cost for the 40ES and the Phoenix) I could have been well on my way to a projector with a motorized lens.

Also since my initial review I played around with the zoom, ECC and lens placement a bit more. I was able to all but entirety remove the pincushion by further adjusting the lens tilt. I also experimented with ECC on and off and frankly with the content I was watching I saw little difference from my viewing distance of about 14 feet.

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post #6 of 14 Old 01-15-2016, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMartin56 View Post
I should also add that I watched a little bit of Pacific Rim with the lens in place. It's 1.85:1 and a movie I'm very familiar with (I watched it a lot while learning to calibrate my plasma). I personally didn't find the lost resolution distracting. I'm aware of how the math works and what I'm losing but in practice it didn't really seem to matter that much.

With a ceiling mount and manual zoom I was never going to use the zoom method with my 40ES. I may eventually experiment with some sort of transport but for now I think a fixed lens is an okay compromise. Of course you could make the argument that for $3k (my cost for the 40ES and the Phoenix) I could have been well on my way to a projector with a motorized lens.

Also since my initial review I played around with the zoom, ECC and lens placement a bit more. I was able to all but entirety remove the pincushion by further adjusting the lens tilt. I also experimented with ECC on and off and frankly with the content I was watching I saw little difference from my viewing distance of about 14 feet.
Here is another picture. Sorry for the poor quality and the cluttered background but we are moving soon. The seam I mentioned is visible on the long side of the housing. You can also see how the surface appears 'wavy'.
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Last edited by AMartin56; 01-15-2016 at 05:09 PM.
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-15-2016, 04:47 PM
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Excellent information AMartin56 I am also going to be using mine with the same projector. I received my lens as well. Unfortunately, I took the XMU (Universal) a little too literal. Even though I have the Sony I interpreted the XM1 as being specific only to the Sony. Since I plan to upgrade later to an older generation Sony 4K down the line I still probably should have stuck with the XM1. At any rate I went with the XMU and the grooves on that plate do not lineup with the projector's mounting screw locations. I've setup an exchange with Shawn to get this taken care of next week. In the meantime I am going to have to go another weekend with out my scope screen. I have been a previous early adopter with Panamorph and had their UH440 lens. While I know the performance of this will probably be slightly less than that. It still seems very solidly built. I am also a fan of the light weight of the lens too. It's especially appreciate when balancing the lens one handed on a ladder while getting the thumb screws tightened. Thanks for posting your thoughts on this and I agree that this should be a hot seller in the under 3K market. If you can land a HW40 or similar and pair it with this lens (even at the new price) it will be a fantastic combo and bargain.
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-19-2016, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I took a few more pictures. The quality isn't great but they might be useful to some.

These is a temporary setup with a 40ES projecting from about 14 feet on to some Carl's place white material I had lying around. Room is not treated...ceiling is white and walls a light blue. Lamp is brand new and on low. I have a Darbee in the chain set to HD 45 and Reality Creation is on at minimum settings. Convergence was set with the zone controls. I dYidn't spend a lot of time tacking the screen material up so it IS not straight. Image is roughly 50 inches tall.

I've included photos of 2.35 with and without the lens (without being via zoom method) as well as 16:9 content with and without. The blurry menu in the one shot is my fault. And the image is not lined up on the material so the pincushion looks worse than it is.

I continue to be pleased with the lens. Widescreen without bars is very nice and I like the convenience of being able to make aspect changes easily with the remote control. So far I don't mind the loss of resolution with 16:9 content.
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Home Theater: Sony 40ES, Panamorph Phoenix, Yamaha RX-V673, NHT Super Ones/Zeroes w/Ten Sub,
Sony BDP-S5500, Darbee Darblet and Silver Ticket 125 inch 2.35:1 White Material Screen
Living room: Sony 60NX720, VIZIO, SB4051-C0, Sony BDPS3500 Patio: Epson 2040
Displays calibrated with HCFR, i1DisplayPro, and Colormunki Photo.
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post #9 of 14 Old 02-17-2016, 08:07 PM
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Interested if you have any more updates? Setup in its final home yet? Cheers.
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post #10 of 14 Old 02-18-2016, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Interested if you have any more updates? Setup in its final home yet? Cheers.
Thanks for the interest but it's still packed up. Our house closing has been delayed... And is likely to be pushed even further back since they're going to have to redo some tile work.

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post #11 of 14 Old 02-18-2016, 07:03 AM
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Thanks for the interest but it's still packed up. Our house closing has been delayed... And is likely to be pushed even further back since they're going to have to redo some tile work.

That is too bad. Priorities.
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post #12 of 14 Old 02-18-2016, 09:41 AM
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Great thread! Thanks for posting your impressions. I am planning the exact same setup -- My Sony 40ES is actually out for delivery right now, and I've built a big 150" 2.35:1 screen (which will probably be masked down to 144" or so) with anticipation of eventually getting the Phoenix A lens. I haven't ordered the lens yet, but I'm hoping to get the screen and projector mounted this weekend and then make the final decision about the lens. I will also be dealing with about the minimum distance for the A lens (a little over 14 feet), so I hope I have as much success at dialing in the adjustments as you did.
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post #13 of 14 Old 02-18-2016, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Great thread! Thanks for posting your impressions. I am planning the exact same setup -- My Sony 40ES is actually out for delivery right now, and I've built a big 150" 2.35:1 screen (which will probably be masked down to 144" or so) with anticipation of eventually getting the Phoenix A lens. I haven't ordered the lens yet, but I'm hoping to get the screen and projector mounted this weekend and then make the final decision about the lens. I will also be dealing with about the minimum distance for the A lens (a little over 14 feet), so I hope I have as much success at dialing in the adjustments as you did.
It will probably come down to how far you mask the screen down. Ideally the throw should be around 3.5 x image height to avoid excessive pincushion. So at 14 feet you'd want an image that is roughly 50 inches tall. I never really got to the point where the physical size of the lens was a problem (although I image you would with larger screen sizes at minimum throw) but it was possible to induce excessive pincushion if you try to push for too short of a throw.

Pincushion was never completely avoidable but I was able to reduce it to the point where I didn't think a curved screen was necessary. I'll eventually have a velvet border that will absorb it.
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post #14 of 14 Old 02-22-2016, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by AMartin56 View Post
It will probably come down to how far you mask the screen down. Ideally the throw should be around 3.5 x image height to avoid excessive pincushion. So at 14 feet you'd want an image that is roughly 50 inches tall. I never really got to the point where the physical size of the lens was a problem (although I image you would with larger screen sizes at minimum throw) but it was possible to induce excessive pincushion if you try to push for too short of a throw.

Pincushion was never completely avoidable but I was able to reduce it to the point where I didn't think a curved screen was necessary. I'll eventually have a velvet border that will absorb it.
Hmm. That is a little concerning. My screen visible area is 56" high -- a bit beyond that recommended limit. I don't really want to make my screen shorter. I guess I'll wind up buying a lens, trying it out, and I suppose I could always sell/return the lens if there's too much pincushion.

Does anyone know if more expensive lenses would be less susceptible to pincushion at the short end of their recommended throw ranges?
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