AVS Forum banner
  • Get an exclusive sneak peek into our new project. >>> Click Here
  • Our native mobile app has a new name: Fora Communities. Learn more.

Black levels in Optoma UHD52ALV good not great other options ?

1542 Views 15 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  sage11x
I recently bought this house with a home theater, we did a few small upgrades but I’m looking for a projector that might be brighter on the black levels than the current Optoma. It looks great at night but still seems to struggle a bit in really dark scenes. I’ve done all the adjustments to reduce and improve, but I think I need a more powerful projector.
Thanks for any help in advance:)
Chris

Attachments

See less See more
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Holy white room Batman!

There’s for sure projectors with better black levels but you really can’t take advantage of them in that room. If that was my room I’d passing it as dark as my roommates would allow, including the ceiling, and trade that small screen for a much bigger one. Even getting rid of the screen and just projecting on a smooth painted wall would work too.

To recap, paint it dark. Go bigger. Make popcorn.
  • Haha
Reactions: 1
Ha ha thanks, ya we are toying with a black color right now. What projectors do you recommend? I want to start doing my research in a much much brighter unit.
I recently bought this house with a home theater, we did a few small upgrades but I’m looking for a projector that might be brighter on the black levels than the current Optoma. It looks great at night but still seems to struggle a bit in really dark scenes. I’ve done all the adjustments to reduce and improve, but I think I need a more powerful projector.
Thanks for any help in advance:)
Chris
Can you post room dimensions and projector to screen distance?

Off the bat I would suggest a much larger grey screen which would help a lot. Painting the entire screen wall ( I use Roscoe TV White for a ~145in 16x9 screen area on my painted screen wall) with a lower gain gray paint would also help, and you could potentially project directly on the wall and then be free to experiment with screen sizes.

Painting a 2 - 4ft flat black strip on the ceiling above the screen wall would help. Also, putting curtain rods along the walls and hanging low cost black drapes/curtains is a really simple and cost effective way to darken the room - retract the drapes to allow the room to be nice and bright when desired.

I'd suggest retaining the current projector until you mod the room, to judge the improvements.
Ha ha thanks, ya we are toying with a black color right now. What projectors do you recommend? I want to start doing my research in a much much brighter unit.
So other than reference mode, that Optoma is actually pretty bright. You don’t look to have a large screen either. Did the Optoma come with the house? Have you checked how many hours are on the bulb? It may just need a new one to get to the brightness you desire. Poor contrast will result in you wanting to boost brightness too and those walls are significantly hurting contrast. The more I darkened my room the less brightness I needed out of my 5050UB.

I could easily recommend a brighter and more contrasty projector but I really don’t think that is your primary issue.
Obviously you are new to front projection and need a few basic things to think about.

Projectors do not project black, black is the projector trying to send no light to the screen. There is no such thing as needing more brightness to make black brighter.

The best black your projector or any projector can ever make is what that screen looks like without the projector turned on. So look at the picture you posted and understand that with whatever lights are on in the room if you turn on the projector and sent a whole screen of black out the best projector and the brightest projector could only make a black that looks like the screen in the picture. And in fact no projector can stop 100% of the light so it will be a bit brighter than what the screen looks like.

Picture being inside a cube sealed up 100% and painted white on the inside with no lights. When you open your eyes it would be all black. It would also be just as black if it was painted black inside without any lights on. Now turn a light on. The light in the white room will bounce around the room endlessly because white reflects all light. The black room would still be very dark even with the light on because black tries to absorb all light.

Now when your projector runs it doesn’t just send the light into your eyes it sends it everyplace in the room. That’s why as you move around in the room you always see the image and other people see the image. That projector light that doesn’t go into your eyes hits the ceiling and walls and lights up the room. It also lights up the screen again when it reflects off the walls and ceiling and goes back to the screen. So in a way the projector in a white room is fighting itself and a brighter projector will make more reflection and ruin its blacks even faster.
That is a very short basic course and it gets more involved.
See less See more
Ok understood, I’ve been reading about grey screens vs white. Any advantage for me at the current situation to change to a grey screen to help ?
Ok understood, I’ve been reading about grey screens vs white. Any advantage for me at the current situation to change to a grey screen to help ?
A grey screen would help with black levels but would also cut the overall brightness. You said you think you your current setup isn’t bright enough so maybe that’s not your best option. But, I have a suspicion the bulb in your current projector is aged a bit and lost brightness. Grey or no grey screen, the picture quality will benefit the most from reducing in room reflections that come back to the screen.

You have a really good room to work with and a lot of people would be envious. Paint the thing dark and make it theater like. Dark doesn’t equal ugly BTW. There’s many combos that can make for a really cool theater experience.
Thanks for the input :). I’m thinking of closing it in and painting it all black and adding a true theatre door to make the experience what it could be. The projector is less than 3 months old when I bought the home 2 months ago. I think I’ll look into the grey screen for now till I can put the effort into the possible enclosure plan on the books. It’s certainly large enough to do so
A gray screen works by attenuating light. I have a DIY gray screen wall like someone posted above. The gray I have is a painted surface and the gray pigment is neutral density meaning it absorbs all the colors of light equally. If it were a blue gray it wouldn’t be neutral and it would be said to push blue.

My screen is a simple neutral gray with a gain around .5. That means if I shoot a white of 2000 lumens at it 1000 will be absorbed into the screen and 1000 reflected. On the other hand if my projector trying to make black leaks out 2 lumens of white in the black the screen will absorb 1 lumen and reflect 1 lumen. Also if there is a light on in the room or the walls are sending some projector light back to the screen half of that will be absorbed and wont wash out / dilute the image. In general a gray screen needs an extra bright projector to work best. There is a myth that white can not be projected off gray and that gray screens make dirty whites. That is just not true.

If I had your room and projector I would paint the ceiling a very dark color I have mine painted flat black. I would paint the walls a dark color I liked in a satin finish as dark walls with flat paint show every little hand smudge. My walls are dark gray. I would also paint the trim and crown a complementing dark. I would take your screen down and paint the whole front wall after fixing any holes and such with a light neutral gray maybe .8 gain. There is a DIY screen forum here that can offer some help. Then you can experiment with different size images with zoom and or even moving the projector. From the looks of your room the screen seems small to me. Tell us your seating distance and riser height and we can help.

The last thing I would do is put a black out curtain over the bar seating area to shut off the light coming from the other room. It can be opened for a large gathering if you will need it like a super bowl party. The lighting in that area should be on dimmers as well and the area outside the theater will still impact the screen some. I would make the curtain black on the inside and a nice color you like on the room side.
Then after a while talk about projector and maybe a screen. My guess is you will like the stealth screen wall enough you will stick with it.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
A gray screen works by attenuating light. I have a DIY gray screen wall like someone posted above. The gray I have is a painted surface and the gray pigment is neutral density meaning it absorbs all the colors of light equally. If it were a blue gray it wouldn’t be neutral and it would be said to push blue.

My screen is a simple neutral gray with a gain around .5. That means if I shoot a white of 2000 lumens at it 1000 will be absorbed into the screen and 1000 reflected. On the other hand if my projector trying to make black leaks out 2 lumens of white in the black the screen will absorb 1 lumen and reflect 1 lumen. Also if there is a light on in the room or the walls are sending some projector light back to the screen half of that will be absorbed and wont wash out / dilute the image. In general a gray screen needs an extra bright projector to work best. There is a myth that white can not be projected off gray and that gray screens make dirty whites. That is just not true.

If I had your room and projector I would paint the ceiling a very dark color I have mine painted flat black. I would paint the walls a dark color I liked in a satin finish as dark walls with flat paint show every little hand smudge. My walls are dark gray. I would also paint the trim and crown a complementing dark. I would take your screen down and paint the whole front wall after fixing any holes and such with a light neutral gray maybe .8 gain. There is a DIY screen forum here that can offer some help. Then you can experiment with different size images with zoom and or even moving the projector. From the looks of your room the screen seems small to me. Tell us your seating distance and riser height and we can help.

The last thing I would do is put a black out curtain over the bar seating area to shut off the light coming from the other room. It can be opened for a large gathering if you will need it like a super bowl party. The lighting in that area should be on dimmers as well and the area outside the theater will still impact the screen some. I would make the curtain black on the inside and a nice color you like on the room side.
Then after a while talk about projector and maybe a screen. My guess is you will like the stealth screen wall enough you will stick with it.
Bingo bango this is what I’d do too. At least to start.

OP, you could start by just taking off the screen and painting that whole wall a neutral gray. This could be a day or day and a half project. This will allow you to do two things, see how large you want the screen size to be (I bet you’ll want it bigger than you think for movies) and two, see how you like a grey screen and how it works with the room. I think your end game is for sure a darkened enclosed theater but this is a good first step to learn more. The worst thing you can do is rush it. Maybe you really love this theater thing and you want an acoustically transparent screen. Maybe you want velvet everywhere. Maybe you want new speakers. Maybe you want acoustic treatments so your current speakers sound better. Etc, etc. Start with small tweaks to maximize what you have.

Like Bud said, there’s a DIY screens section that can help you find the right paint. There’s some easy cheap mixes from Home Depot too. Good luck and have fun! You’ve got a great starting point!
See less See more
Thank for the help, I’m going to read up, do some research and take my time.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Thank for the help, I’m going to read up, do some research and take my time.
While you're here and thinking about this stuff, let me give you some more unsolicited advice lol.

Currently, your left and right speakers are a bit high. Ideally, they should be at ear level but you do have two rows. Speaking of that second row, it doesn't appear to be on a riser, just the same height as the front row. It looks like whoever put up those speakers knew this and raised them up so the first row wouldn't block the sound path to the back row. This was done on opposite day, clearly. The second row should have been risen up so that the left and right speakers could have been dropped down allowing for your left, right, and center speakers to be more closely aligned on a horizontal plane. In a perfect world your LCR speakers would be aligned with each other at ear level. This is only possible with an acoustically transparent screen but even in your current setup, it can be improved. So, if you are doing some work here, rise those back seats up, drop the left and right speakers, then move that center to be just below the screen.

Hm, I'm taking another look at the photo...is the back row on a riser?
See less See more
Yes they are on a riser, each row is above the floor a few inches
Here's a UHD52ALV on a 200in painted screen:

As others have pointed out: tough room. I would really revisit treating the room. That’s going to be your best bet. Ambient light is the enemy of contrast. Projectors produce a lot of ambient light on account of them being very bright lamps. You need to control the amount of reflections coming from the room back onto the screen. Think of a theater where all the surfaces are dark and non-reflective. There is a reason for that.

Beyond that, you might be able to get slightly better blacks with a projector equipped with an iris— the BenQ TK850 and Epson 3800 spring to mind. But I want to stress that you’re going to need to have expectations firmly in check with that room.
  • Like
Reactions: 2
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top