Ok, here we go with full report on the pre prod X55 vs. my trusty old X3.
As a background info my setup is quite short throw with quite short viewing distance. I've got a fixed 16:9 110" ST130 G3 with motorized masking for 2.35:1. So the screen width is 244 cm and about so is my vieving distance (depending on whether I am laying on the sofa or sitting
), which varies between 0.8 ans 1.1 screen widths. So this setup is one where E-Shift should shine if it does anywhere. Room Is quite treated, matte black ceiling (floating Ecophon Acoustic ceiling panel) walls with everything around screen covered with Prostar light trap material. Gray floor with a few colored acoustic ppanels on the sidewalls outside one's viewing cone. There is some white behind viewing area, the folding sound-insulating back wall and side doors, propably should do something about these bright spots in my batcave.
Looks like this
I setupped the X55 just inside the screen horizontally in the middle (below the X3 that is in a ceiling box) and did a "mechanical split screen" split screen eg. covered part of lens with a cardboard that was covered with the Prostar light trap material and both projectors were fed from outputs of my Radiance XS so I was getting same content from both projectors; X55 on the left side and X3 on the right side. Both were running Cinema mode with default settings everywhere else expect X55 was running low lamp with iris at -15 (iris does not seem to affect brightness that much) and X3 had high lamp and iris fully open. X3 has a bit over 1000 hours on it so it was slightly dimmer than the new X55 low but what can you do. A pic below show is a screenshot from the screen; I'm no pro with camera gear and barely know how to operate my Nex-6 so obviously the exposure was off (there actually was not completely black area in the middle and brightness difference between the projectors is exaggered). The EVF is great for anything else, but it does suck for manual focus on the projectors screen it seems. The picture however somewhat does match what my eyes saw in terms of detail clarity and perceived sharpness etc.
I spent 4 or so hours going through my own reference disks, including Scubasteve's collection, Tom Lowe's Timescapes, Baraka, TDK and I did throw in AVSHD calibration disk for a sec. Since I had no time (and no real interest, not fan of that stuff, only done when absolutely necessary) to calibrate the
The following themes constantly popped into my head, in the following I try also to figure why
- X55 E-Shift picture is more lifelike, I'd say more HD-Analog. I tried put my head into "why is this" when it hit me. I some cases I'm seeing the pixels in X3 from around 0.8 SW distance. The dish radio mast support beams in the Timescapes "dish dance" showed individual pixels whereas in the X55 the edges of the beams were completely smooth. AVSHD patterns showed similar thing from same vieving distance
- I'm seeing "new" or more fine-grained details if I look carefully. Star Wars Episode 3 BR in the beginning "Battle of Coruscant" where Star destroyers glided from left to right they lost some of the finest details when they went from left to right into X3 screen area. Same thing with R2-D2 inside Grievous command ship, The leds in the side of R2-D2 took a more defined form, I could observe inperfections in the R2 more clearly, the dirt in cars in TDK had more details...
- texture definition was better. Through each and every scene where there was some textures they were better defined in X55; the fur (and waterdrops in the fur) on the monkey in Baraka, The old stone walls in Baraka. Looked a bit like turning on higher level of texture detail in a computer game.
- X55 made the ST130 screen texture appear slightly less visible. I pondered for a long time why this would be and came up with a theory that pixel grid that can be seen with X3 when looking closely may be interacting the screen texture in the near white parts of video. Dunno why this would be but by looking at the white clouds in the sky I get this feeling
- for some strange reason the X55 appear to show a bit of something that looks like luminance noise (been trying to learn Lightroom 4 lately) than X3 in some scenes. Don't know if the X3 generates some of it's own or if X55 removes it from video, but the difference is there.
- I managed to pause Kung Fu Panda so that Mr Panda has his face is split between halfs of the screen. The difference on the eyes is staggering, the X3 eye looked like digital picture that was zoomed to 110%. Very good but slightly artifical whereas X55 eye looked like a perfectly realistic eye looking at me.
- does the E-Eshift2 soften the picture to get its look. Most definately not
I often paused the video to stop to look more closely and think "is this brightness/contrast difference I'm seeing", but it just was was not.
After watching all the clips (some of them I rerun several times) I remembered what R Harkness wrote here about E-Shft last year; it truly does bring another level if "being there". The last thing I watched was Jay-Z Live concert "Rock Am Ring" from MTV HD in 1080i (watched it maybe 25 times before) and there just was a new sence of being there in Nurgburgring. Some obvious clues that tell you that you are watching (high quality) digital video are just gone with E-Shift/X55 and more detailed fine textures just bring the illusion that you are watching live show instead of a very good recording of it. All the little details described above make a big impact when put together.
So all in all, it is all in the E-Shift2, but truth to be told I was shocked how much the E-Shift brought into the game. When viewed solo the X3 stills looks great, but in the company of X55 it does not when viewed as close as I do. I took a brief test on how far back I could tell the difference and I can safely say that after 1.5-1.6 SW I was just mainly the slight brighness advantage that the X55 had.
As for 3D I did comment about crosstalk in the Zombie's mini-shootout thread and short story is this: with my X3 I was always seeing at least a little of it, even out of the box, sometimes barely noticeable and sometimes very noticeable. In the X55 with 80 hours in lamp I did not see any; watched parts of IMAX Space Station, Under The Sea, some demos from DTS 3D Demo disk, Transformers 3D, Avengers 3D... Total of 2 to 2.5 hours. I do not have Sammy's or Despicable me so those very hard scenes may show but yesterday with X55 I saw now crosstalk. I might have watched wrong parts of the movies but I just saw no crosstalk I could notice.
So, I confirmed my X55 order today, should have one in my theater hopefully late next week. The E-Shift2 is just that good for close vieing distance. I'm quite confident 24p 3D has also taken a real step forwardand even though I watch 3D less than 10% of my projector usage that is a nice bonus too.