Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Upstate New York
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Sorry for the wall of text:
Today I traveled to western Massachusetts to visit a forum member whose dealer had an Epson LS10000 we could use for a fun little shootout. Bob (ultra 150 pilot on the forum) was nice enough to have me over for the afternoon and to use his theater for the shootout. I brought with me a JVC DLA-RS400 and JVC DLA-RS500. Unfortunately this time we didn't spend anywhere near as much time as we did last year doing side-by-side brightness matched comparisons when we compared the LS10000 to the JVC DLA-X500. We actually spent a decent amount of time measuring the LS10000 before and after the firmware update. Bob's dealer (who is also named Bob haha) received one of the first LS10000's in the country when they were released last year and as such it had a very old firmware on it. It was V114, which I believe was older than any other on the forum that I've seen mentioned thus far. A month or two ago there was a claim of a decent lumen increase after the firmware update from V115 to V130 so this is why we wanted to measured before and after the update. The projector was ceiling mounted and the lens itself was never changed (zoom) before and after the update. The update went smoothly (took about 3 minutes) and we went back and did the same brightness measurements. There was zero change in lumen output. Actually there was a TINY decrease in lumen output after the update. By tiny I mean 2-3% decrease in lumen out. This unit has 519 hours on it so the laser itself is well settled.
With that said I think I know where the claim that the lumen output increase comes from. I say this because the Epson sample we measured today was CONSIDERABLY brighter than any of the other early LS10000 reviews claim. These were the results with the lens at max zoom and the iris fully open and then closed:
Iris Closed: 17.9 ftL - 844 Lumens
Iris Open: 27.6 ftL - 1302 Lumens
For contrast with the iris open (max zoom) we measured a little under 15000:1
So these numbers do show that maybe the light source itself gets brighter after a few hundred hours of use. This is just my guess OR there might just be a ton of variability in lumen output between these units. I remember Kris Deering talking about how his sample unit was much brighter than the ~1000 lumens or so that many of the other reviews were claiming. But I think it's definitely fair to say that the firmware has NO bearing on the increase in lumen output with this machine. I think it's either luck of the draw or the laser/phosphor wheel gets 20-30% brighter after it has a decent amount of hours on it. I think it's the latter because I don't remember this unit being anywhere near this bright when we used it to compare it against the X500 last year. As far as e-shift goes I can't unequivocally say anything. IIRC both Bob's took a hard look at the eshift performance before the update. Bob, the dealer, said it looked "a little better." But he also noted there was definitely still a soft, not-focused look to the image with eshift on. All three of us made the agreement with that. We would argue that unless you're watching 4K content it would be best to disable eshift. We didn't get a chance to compare it to the JVC's eshift performance but I've spent a great deal of time with generation 1-4 eshift on the JVC and all four of them beat the Epson'e implementation as far as that out-of-focus look the Epson has goes. You still get a less delineated pixel-free image with eshift on the JVC, but it doesn't have that out-of-focus look the Epson has.
The only side-by-side comparison we did was with the Epson and RS400. For me, at least, I thought the JVC was the clear winner with the content we watched Much greater image depth due to the far higher native contrast. The image simply popped quite a bit more. We looked at the RS500 alone with the same content and the amount of contrast was even greater. That's really all the RS500 has over the RS400 in terms of raw image quality potential. I will say the Epson did show more shadow detail compared to the JVCs but I'd chalk that up to not having the projector properly tweaked for his room/screen. We simply did not have time to calibrate all 5 projectors we looked at over the course of the day. The Epson looked "cleaner" with some content. With that said all three of us remember the X500 comparison and the JVC RS400/RS500 definitely lack some of the image noise that the X500 had in it's image. These new JVCs don't add image noise to the video. I have no way to prove it, but I think the video processing in the Epson has some sort of noise filter built into it. Because when I showed Bob and Bob a static image with my HTPC there was literally no noise visible within the image. It appeared perfectly clean and stable. So unless the JVC is somehow selectively choosing when to add noise I don't think the JVC is ever adding any and rather the Epson is simply muting some of it.
I don't think we needed to spend as much time doing some of the A/B tests we did last year. From what I've seen JVC has widened the gap ever further this year so it kind of made those same comparisons superfluous. In my opinion the Epson doesn't really stand a chance when you consider the contrast gap with basically everything else being equal or better on the JVC. That's not to say that the Epson looks bad. It doesn't and is by far their greatest projector to date in terms of overall PQ. We actually spent quite a bit of time today discussing how this forum nit-picks far too much. I agree and am definitely one of those people. Anyone without the context we nit-pickers posses would be satisfied with any one of these units. But in terms of value we all agreed the RS400 is by far the best deal. Bob, the host, said several times he loves what the laser offers (long life consistent calibration and lumen output and no need to worry about how many times you turn it on or off) but just doesn't see the value proposition at it's current price point. The street price being so high is the main reason he chooses not to own it even though it's the unit he'd prefer to own. He realizes the performance might be a little less on the Epson compared to the JVC, but the quality of the laser is something that appeals to him very much. That slightly cleaner look on the Epson was also something he preferred over the JVC. I tried to make the argument that the Epson seems to be taking some detail out by removing image noise, but to Bob it's something he'd prefer to give him the type of image he wants. For me, if it's there in the source I want to see it and with how quickly I go through units, the laser offers me little, so it's not something I'd want to pay a hefty premium for. In a couple years we might see this light source altogether replace bulbs in the $3000+ market and then we probably won't see such a premium for it.
And while the three of us didn't get to A/B all three units we did spend a ton of time with LS10000 up on screen and I'm very familiar with the image of my RS500. I'm still partial to the RS500's image. We enabled the "fast" DI mode on the Epson to see how it handled the beginning of Star Wars Episode 3. I chose this because there's a few fade to blacks and it's nice and contrasty I'm just not a fan of how it works with fade to blacks. It's too obvious in it's operation for me. The light would pop in and out of existence (which was obvious to me) and with the crawling text the dynamic gamma was changing the color of the text from yellow to orange. Yuck. It's just not for me. I really like how you can set a manual iris setting on the JVC and obtain better contrast (and brightness if you choose) than the Epson can do dynamically and NEVER worry about the image looking wonky. I told Bob that why I appreciate the JVCs so much. There's no need to manipulate the image to get an amazing looking image.
Last edited by Seegs108; 02-13-2016 at 07:31 PM.