Originally Posted by curtlots
What are your thoughts about black levels and contrast? I read on the internet that DLPs have "abysmal" black levels. I'm hoping the black levels are at least the equal and hopefully better than my Epson 8350. I would love to see a good pic that realistically displays the letterbox bars on a 2:35/1 movie.
So I actually did some research.
Your 8350 was measured at 786:1 peak contrast by S&V. I feel confident in saying that the HT3550 would represent a significant improvement.
As for the comments you’ve been reading— they’re hyperbole and, further, I would argue that the member that made those comments has failed to lend any context. Just an FYI, that same member would likely deride your 8350 as well.
In the projector market, contrast costs money. The more you spend the better you can reasonably expect that contrast performance to be. If you’re looking at the whole of the projector market as sort of a line from the most affordable right up to ungodly expensive, you’ll see that contrast more or less improves as you move up the price scale. If we then populate that line with the types of projector tech being used you’ll generally see LCOS technologies (Sony and JVC) at the top with high contrast and high prices while DLP (BenQ, Optima, Viewsonic, etc.) and 3LCD (Epson) will generally be at the other end with lower prices and lower contrast.
DLP does not have abysmal contrast/blacks. In fact, at the lower price points DLP traditionally outperforms competing 3LCD (Epson) projectors. However, Epson’s 3LCD does scale more with each stop as you move up their lineup producing better contrast than the last. At the top you’ll find their UB or “Ultra Black” projectors like the 5040UB and soon-to-be-released 5050UB. These models will have much better contrast and blacks than your typical DLP. But again, to be FAIR, these models also retail at prices where you start to see the number of DLP options get significantly thinner. Typically the DLPs that you find above $2000 are the lower volume pro models like the UHD65 and upcoming HT5550 as well as laser and ColorSpark models that are themselves high value projectors due to their light sources.
So when you talk about DLP contrast and black levels you really need to have some context of where it fits within the greater projector market and what it competes with. To complicate matters a bit is the fact that the move to 4K has not helped matters in this area. The first generation of affordable 4K DLPs had visibly lower contrast than their 1080p predecessors. The HT3550 is very exciting because it’s the first 4K DLP at this price that doesn’t and, in fact, offers better dynamic contrast than any DLP I’ve seen below $2000. Again, to be FAIR, this isn’t a problem that is limited to DLP. The recent release of native 4K projectors from Sony and JVC have seen them take a step back in contrast/blacks as well. Currently, Epson fields no 4K projectors but only 4K ‘enhanced’ models so we’ll have to wait and see how their tech responds.