X1 Black Level - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
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I've noticed that my new X1's black level is far from black. I suspect the X1's performance is typical in this regard.

For example, when viewing in 16x9 format, the top and bottom bars are "black" right? The dark areas of the image match the top and bottom bars. However, in fact the top and bottom bars are now where near black. I can get much closer to black by sticking my hand up and casting a shadow (really black) on the black areas.

I like my X1. But it should be known that black level performance is terrible for FP. The image is still very nice. But there is a lot of room for improvement.

Am I missing something?

charles
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post #2 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 12:41 PM
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" I like my X1. But it should be known that black level performance is terrible for FP. The image is still very nice. But there is a lot of room for improvement.

Am I missing something?"

I'm again torn between going after you w/ an ax for the blanket "it should be known that black level performance is terrible for FP" or trying to give you some useful starting points.

here are things which can affect the perceived black level:

- the black level setting on the dvd player (if adjustable) -- try the lighter setting.
- the ambient light in the room (try a dark room ).
- bring up a scene w/ a dark background which has some detail you'd like to see more of. play with brightness and contrast until it's as good as you can get. then verify your bright / daylight scenes are still good.
- the screen.
- use video or film modes, not presentation.

for my 75" x 57" (95" diag 4:3) parkland plastic screen the brightness is set up to about 70 and the contrast about 55 (or so -- haven't looked at the actual values lately). but I'd hesitate to use my numbers as differences between rooms and screens makes a plug-n-play recipe impossible.

you've got a new X1 -- I'd tune it (and your room and dvd player) before proclaiming it to be garbage. There is a considerable body of experience out there which knows otherwise.

Mark

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post #3 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 12:43 PM
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It's a $999 digital DLP projector. What do you expect? If you want good black levels for around it's price range, you should look into CRT FP. There's always drawbacks with either.
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post #4 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 01:00 PM
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you might want to try a filter or a grey screen, and what size is your screen?
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post #5 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 01:10 PM
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The black levels on the X1 are pretty darn good IMHO for a digital projector. Have you taken a look at LCD black levels? I have yet to see an LCD that beat's DLP in that respect regardless of price. CRT is of coarse a different story and literal beast.

Randy J. Fisher, CTS-D
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post #6 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Mpilon,

I assume the best black level attainable by the X1 are the top and bottom bars when displaying in 16x9 mode. No adjustments to DVD player or X1 will change this.

I am viewing in a completely dark room. One can clearly see the difference between "black" as defined by the projector and a shadow. The X1 carries a spec of 2000:1 for contrast. I assumed this would result in a very good black level. I was wrong.

Anyone believe the newer DLP chips from TI actually perform significantly better?

What contrast spec do CRT FP claim?

charles
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post #7 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 01:51 PM
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Ah, I was right -- you don't want to improve your situation, you want to argue about it. 18 posts and already an expert, I'll have to sit back and take notes.

or are we just trolling ...?

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post #8 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 02:23 PM
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The only way to get perfect black is to, as you suggested, create a shadow. Aside from that there are ways to reduce our perception of these not-so-black bars. If you use masking with a 16:9 screen (and also adjust your contrast and brightness appropriately), you might not notice the X1's limitations as much. Remember, we all bought the X1 to watch nice bright color movies right? ;)

Quote:
Originally posted by cah
I assume the best black level attainable by the X1 are the top and bottom bars when displaying in 16x9 mode. No adjustments to DVD player or X1 will change this.
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post #9 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 02:28 PM
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The only option significantly better is CRT. The X1's performance is typical of all DLP projectors and slightly better than LCD projectors as far as black level is concerned. There hasn't been a projector made that uses a light bulb and gets pure black.

My guess is that it's the bars that bother you more than anything, and if that's the case, go to a fabric store and get yourself some black velvet or something to put around your screen. You'll probably be much happier. If not then go back to CRT.

-Rob
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post #10 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 02:35 PM
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i believe that the way a movies is recorded has alot to do with the quality of black levels. I have noticed that some dvd movies have better blacks than others. I cant think of any examples right now but im sure some of you have noticed too.

ap0
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post #11 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 02:46 PM
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Charles,

What are you comparing the X1 too ? Yes, the blacks could be improved but as in ANY front projector it has a lot to do with your setup (viewing environment, source, screen type and size, distance from screen, cables, etc...). Just as an FYI, at it's price point there are very few if any projectors out there that can match the X1 in overall picture quality. If you want inky blacks and CRT smoothness, you will have to spend quite a bit more.

Sergio Rivera - "It can always look better."
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post #12 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by cah
Mpilon,

I assume the best black level attainable by the X1 are the top and bottom bars when displaying in 16x9 mode. No adjustments to DVD player or X1 will change this.

I am viewing in a completely dark room. One can clearly see the difference between "black" as defined by the projector and a shadow. The X1 carries a spec of 2000:1 for contrast. I assumed this would result in a very good black level. I was wrong.

Anyone believe the newer DLP chips from TI actually perform significantly better?

What contrast spec do CRT FP claim?
The 2000:1 is just the ratio between the darkest black and brightest white. It's no indicator of how "black" it can get. In presentation mode you might be able to achieve this, but you would have a great deal of crush on both your shadow detail and highlights. I believe a well adjusted X1 might be able to acheive an 800:1 contrast, 600:1 is probably more typical. I need to check mine at home to see what it is.

...joe
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post #13 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 05:54 PM
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The best advice you can receive has been offered more than once in this thread. And it still bears repeating. Masking. It's the best tweak you can do when using a digital projector of any kind.
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post #14 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 06:01 PM
 
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I paid nearly twice as much for a Panny 300U and, it has less than half the advertised contrast ratio of the X1, coming in at 800:1 I think. Realistically, this is probably closer to 600:1.
So, if a little tweaking with the six settings on my projector with AVIA, and an end result of probably 600:1, I would probably be floored with anyting approaching 2000:1!!!!
I used masking for the "black bars". And, to note, the Panny has an option to change the colors of the bars to "blue".
Are the bars in the source data stream, or are the bars produced by the projector?
I set my DVD player to pass "blacker-than-black" 0 IRE data. It seems to help, tough I am not sure if this is the optimal setting.
Anyway, my blacks are very respectable, and further more, the percieved blacks in the film presentation are indeed blacker than the black bars!
In summary, the blacks are magnificient on my setup, and approach inkiness, as far as I perceive them to be.
Now, shadow detail.....that is a COMPLETELY different matter. My projector falls very short in this regard.:(
Panic Room is a really tough go for my FP.
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post #15 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by cah
I've noticed that my new X1's black level is far from black. I suspect the X1's performance is typical in this regard.

For example, when viewing in 16x9 format, the top and bottom bars are "black" right? The dark areas of the image match the top and bottom bars. However, in fact the top and bottom bars are now where near black. I can get much closer to black by sticking my hand up and casting a shadow (really black) on the black areas.

I like my X1. But it should be known that black level performance is terrible for FP. The image is still very nice. But there is a lot of room for improvement.

Am I missing something?
The black level of the actual image is fine but the bars suck. They are very grey and it bothers the heck out of me. You need a very very black (like a black body radiator) mask to shut that grey bar. Especially if your room has light walls the light from the image gets reflected and it ruins the image. Not to mention that the bars are already light and are more visible due to the reflection from the white walls.

Is it this light spil from X1 that bothers me. Otherwise the PQ would beat even a 5k projector. PQ depends very much on how good the DVD or source is. Some DVD's are horrible though they are anomorphic. Cmpare Behind Enemy Lines, LOTR vs XXX. You will notice how bad XXX is though it has some vibrant colors.

I wish X1 was 16:9!

You could try a high contrast matte white screen (which is less expensive than Firehawk or greyhawk). This improves the black a lot but still gives you good contrast. You might lose the color a bit though. I dont mind losing the color a bit to get more black.
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post #16 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 06:13 PM
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BTW I have tried all kinds of tweaking and I cant get the bars to get blacker. The black level in the image is perfect and couldnt be blacker but the bars are not as black. Since there is no image there I guess it makes sense that all the tweaking doesnt change the black level there.

IMO the best way to make those bars less distractive is to make the walls as dark as possible and also use a black background all around the image and ofcourse a good masking. This will reduce the light spill a lot. But I couldnt do it in my living room which has light walls and also a light carpet.
Have to build a dedicated HT in the basement or get a 16:9 PJ.


PS: Knowledge is precious. Share it, dont condemn the ignorant.
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post #17 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 06:27 PM
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I've seen Panamorphic lenses going for around $300 on eBay. They effectively turn a 4:3 projector into a 16:9 projector, while using the entire pixel array and compressing the light cone.
Worth considering perhaps if the black bars really bother you that much...
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post #18 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 06:45 PM
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yes I have tried them (my coworker has one) and they have a tendency to bow the sides of the image. For that price I can get Z1 which is 16:9.
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post #19 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 06:54 PM
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Integrate custom matting for widescreen aspect ratios. May take some work depending on your current setup, but would eliminate the issue you are having completely would it not?
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post #20 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 07:26 PM
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cah,
No dlp or lcd projector is able to display black as a total absence of light.
The better the projector's performance in this respect the darker the gray it displays pretending it to be black.
If you thought the story was different -you were mistaken.

If you had done any research before buying a digital projector you should've certainly learned that black levels are indeed an Achilles' Heel of digital projection.
If you didn't do any research before spending money on a device you knew nothing about - well, it is your own fault.

It is very, very unfair for you to say that X1's black level sucks, when it is in fact not bad at all. Please do compare it to other PJs before making such statements - otherwise your credibility suffers immensely.
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post #21 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 07:30 PM
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Guys, its a $900 projector. A very good pic for the money. If you want more upgrade. DLP will not give CRT blacks, face it, no matter what the price. A few years ago this level of performance was not even heard of for a cool grand.

I just painted my room (walls & ceiling) dark and masked the screen which was a huge improvement in CR.

:cool:

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post #22 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by David Barteaux
A few years ago this level of performance was not even heard of for a cool grand.
:cool:
I'm sure a few years ago there was no projector for under a grand, period.:)
Quote:
Originally posted by cah
But there is a lot of room for improvement.
Not for a $999.:)
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post #23 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 07:59 PM
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The discussion here is about the black bars I believe. The black level of the image is pefect. Who said it sucks. It is the bars that suck on my PJ. They are not dark so they are distracting and give a washed out kind of image due to the reflection of light spil from these grey bars, especially on a white wall with no masks. Even if I put a mask they are still visible as they arent dark enough for the mask to completely absorb it.

Keep in mind that no two X1's are made identical. So if you see good black on your X1 it does not guarantee good black in all X1's unless X1 strictly follows 6-sigma rule in their manufacturing/quality. For $1000 I dont think they will invest on 6-sigma! Infocus or anyone else hasnt collected statictics regarding black level in all X1 as quoted by the owners. So we cant make any generalization that black level in the X1 bars is indeed black.

It is higly likely that we both got a bad unit. So I am planning to exchange or return it as soon as best buy starts accepting returns of online stuff due to revamping of the website. if the PJ is 16:9 that will greatly reduce this problem as the black bars on a 16:9 screen in a 2.35 movie is not that big.

If the image can be so black on my PJ I just wonder why the bars cant be as dark. I can only attribute this to some defect, primarily light spill which I cant control just bt putting a back paper around the PJ with a hole for the lens! Infact I tried this and didnt help. It seems to come right through the lens.

Infact there are some posts where people have mentioned about nonuniformily of brighness on X1 image and also smudge on lower part of the image. Perhaps infocus can look into this and see if they can figure out the reason.

Sanyo Z1 had an issue with the fan switching modes. They figured it out after some complaints (see projectorcentral review). Same way Infocus can also try to investigate this one, as this seems to be the only issue with X1, an otherwise flawless machine!
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post #24 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by cah

I like my X1. But it should be known that black level performance is terrible for FP.
Mupi,
I believe this more or less means: "black level on my X1 sucks". Wouldn't you agree?
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post #25 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 08:12 PM
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Mupi,

Black in the video image itself is going to be exactly the same as what you see in the bars. Black within the image may appear to be darker but that's only your perception. It's because your eyes are contrasting that black to the lighter parts of the image immediately adjacent to it. Whereas there is nothing lighter in the bars for your eyes to compare it to.

This is precisely why it's so important to get the bars off of your screen.
And I'm in agreement with you that masking is not going to totally eliminate the light glow. But it will greatly improve the situation.
There is a way to get rid of all visible letterbox bar light glow and I'm using that method. But it requires the use of a variable height screen and that's just not suitable for everyone.

Bob
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post #26 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by piesek
Mupi,
I believe this more or less means: "black level on my X1 sucks". Wouldn't you agree?
yep
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post #27 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 09:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by RobertWood

There is a way to get rid of all visible letterbox bar light glow and I'm using that method. But it requires the use of a variable height screen and that's just not suitable for everyone.

Bob
so what did you do. I guess I remember your post about a tripod screen. How does it get rid of the light glow, I mean if the screen is say 2.35:1 where does the gray bar/glow go. Did you move the tripod a few inches from a dark wall so that the bars fall on the wall and get dissipated. but the tripod vertical rod might take some portion of the bars. May be I am mistaken. it is probably some other method. Could you please elaborate. A picture would be great.
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post #28 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by trigger_avs1
I've seen Panamorphic lenses going for around $300 on eBay. They effectively turn a 4:3 projector into a 16:9 projector, while using the entire pixel array and compressing the light cone.
Worth considering perhaps if the black bars really bother you that much...
which kind of lens exactly are on ebay that are a match for the x1. I thought that most of the lenses on ebay were for film projectors.

James
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post #29 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 09:45 PM
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I agree that blacks of DLPs are no where near CRT blacks. However, at this price point, the X1 has one of the best black levels for a digital pj. Calibration and tweaking also can make a huge improvement in pq and black level. I am using two filters for my x1: a skylight filter, and a glare filter. The blacks now are so much better than before.

James
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post #30 of 107 Old 07-01-2003, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
so what did you do
My camera is at my office but I'll try to describe it. It's actually a combination of several things. Yes, it starts with a tripod screen. As you're remembering this allows me to adjust the top and bottom of the screen vertically. So no matter what aspect ratio I'm viewing in about 10 seconds I can make the screen that size. And I can do it without changing the angle of the projector since the center of the image is always at the same spot on the screen.
So now I always frame only the image on the screen.
Although this alone will probably eliminate the bars enough to suit many, as you mentioned earlier that light spilling by still reflects off an adjacent surface to some degree. Although it's much much less objectionable when it's not on the screen itself.
But I then do something else. The screen is a couple of feet in front of the wall. Actually in my case it's in front of a floor to ceiling and wall to wall shelving unit. By having the screen forward of the back of the room, the light blowing by it scatters and becomes even much less visible. But I don't stop there. I learned early on when using digital projectors that I prefer a small amount of bias lighting in the room. On the opposite wall I have a track spotlight with a 15 watt lamp bulb aimed away from the screen. This provides just a little room illumination. And it accomplishes two things. One, it makes that little bit of light glow blowing by the screen completely disappear. I can no longer see the light in the bars being reflected off the surfaces behind the screen.
But the bias lighting does something else equally important. It alleviates exactly what you talked about earlier. In a pitch dark room, the not true black that these projectors are making contrasts badly with the pitch darkness surrounding your screen. When the room is just ever so slightly illuminated then you're eyes are not constantly comparing that grayish black to the pitch darkness. This provides a definite improvement in the perceived black level.

Bob
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