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I've been a long time CRT FPTV owner, waiting and wantng to move to digital. Unlike most CRT fanatics I am not impressed with their ability to produce pure blacks.


As has been pointed out many times by others, movie theaters and nature do not produce the pure black of CRTs.


It seems to me that what matters and what should be the standard for comparing CRT projs to digital projs is NOT the ability to produce pure blacks, but, rather, the ability to resolve shadow detail in source material like Dark City.


If a digital proj can resolve the shadow detail in material like that, then I think that should be more than adequete to anyone who is reasonable.

To strive to match CRT pure black BEYOND that is, I think, a waste of time. Unless, of course you only watch Avia and A Video Standard
 

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Interesting point "movie theaters and nature do not produce the pure black of CRT's", I would assume that if a CRT can produce a certain black level and it is a part of our physical reality then surely nature can do likewise. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


I thought the issue with black level with a digital projector is that under lighting conditions that people wnat for watching a movie the "apparent black level" does not look black enough. That is in a darkened room the black looks grey. The issue seems to be a relative one to me. For example if a set the black level on a CRT monitor to what appears to be a dark black in a lite rooom and then turn down the lighting the black now looks grey.

 

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I agree - shadow detail is more important, at least, for me. I have seen "black" objects in a movie produced by at least three different digital projectors in my HT that are absolutely convincingly black. The problem is that the larger the object the less absolute black it appears. For example is the object takes up less than 2/3 of the screen then it looks very black. If it takes up nearly the entire screen with little or nothing to help (contrast it with) it then is less convincing. Another point - if the projector is told to project black then it can do an adequate job, however, we assume it is suppose to be "doing black" when in fact this isn't the case. At the end of lots of movies with credits one would think white credits on a black background - I don't think this is always the case. Take a look at the credits at the end of the movie Exit Wounds (best part of the movie, but an excellent transfer nonetheless) - half the sceeen is "black" and in this case the projector is being told to produce black and it sure looks black to me - not perfect but really good! I have looked at many DVDs and found the same to be true with my CRT RPTV!


When I ask guests "what colour is that" and they respond "black" and I say "how black?" and they say "jet black" and I say "can't be because digital technoloy can't produce black" and what do they do - roll their eyes, that's what they do!


I am not saying that digital technology can't do better - it can and will. What I am saying is that the best digital projectors are doing a good job now and will get better - let's enjoy what we have and strive for better. I am certainly not going to ostracize digital because it's not perfect - think about it - what is? CRT? It sure isn't perfect for me! I can say this because this is the digital section and the CRT fanatics are obliged to respect that, just as we respect their right to rant about the how crummy digital is in comparison to their beloved behemoths over on their section of this forum (which they do in a regular and predictable fashion).


Shadow detail is, IMO, where's it's at! This is what makes or breaks a HT system. If this is missing then you're literally in the dark. The projector has a lot to do with it, however, so does the screen and ambient light. Experimenting with different screens and reflective surfaces in your HT will confirm this.


As always, don't believe a word I write. I post only to entertain, and maybe not. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif


Cheers,


Grant


 

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I concurr. Whenever i go to the movies (rarely now days) I am surprised at how critical I get about the quality. The last movie I saw (Tomb Raider) was disappointing in more ways than plot. The picture was noisy with a lot of blemishes, and night scenes did not have the jet blacks I had expected to see, but the shadow details in the dark scenes compensated for the overall viewing. Night was really a very dark grey, not black. After all, film is not really opaque and some light does go thru.


Once i tried watching "Dark Angel" on my Davis DL450 projector. At the end of the show, Alba is usually sitting atop a tower (Seattle Space needle?) overlooking the city. When viewed on a TV, you can see the city in the background and the structure she is standing upon. With the DLP projector, all I could see was her face and specks of light. Everything was just a vast plain of dark grey, no structure, no city, nothing. That is what changed me from DLPs to CRTs. Whenever someone tells me to look at a new digital projector, I always take along "Dark City". The film is extremely dark and is an excellent test for a projector. I have yet found a digital projector that can pass this test. Everyone tells me to try dvds like 5th element, toy story. Digital projectors does an excellent job with them, but now I feel that the shadow details is where they are sorely lacking.
 

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Black level and shadow detail are two different things, albeit related. I can turn up the brightness on my RPTV and see lots of shadow detail. In fact, it's like turning a room light on. When done to excess, it's a smoke-filled, foggy looking room. Which is why I'd like to see more user control of the gamma curve.


Anyway, my experience with DLP so far is that whether or not much shadow detail is visible, in dark scenes it always looks like a smoke-filled room, or like a movie theater when someone opens a door, casting a haze onto the image plane that destroys any sense of 3-dimensionality.


Grant makes a good point about how much of a scene is dark. Blacks on DLP can look inky, but only if there's something bright to contrast with. Perhaps this is what many people mean when they report excellent blacks on DLP.


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Noah
 

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I have do disagree a bit. Having HD on both a projector (Sanyo PLV-60) and direct-view HDTV (RCA 38"), one of the big differences is that HD on the RCA looks more three dimensional, more like looking out a window.


I attribute this to the darker blacks. The RCA does not have much low-level detail because the dark range is compressed - fully a fourth of the Avia gray ramp is black.


Please don't misunderstand. Low-level detail is highly desireable, but I think dark blacks are necessary for the "looking out the window" effect.


Frank
 

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You all know what I think. My 38t/21N made 13th Warrior more fun to watch at home, than it was in the theater. It was nearly unwatchable on the LP350. I used to blame that kind of thing on a "bad transfer". Transfer smansfer. Shadow detail IS definitely the key. AND I am convinced shadow detail is made possible by high contrast + high brightness, with a little proper gamma mixed in. I'm telling you, it looks JUST LIKE A GIANT TUBE.


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Joe


"I'm a Dapper Dan man!"
 

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and Bob, from your new picture, it looks like you ought to wear a bra.


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Joe


"I'm a Dapper Dan man!"
 

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Both excellent black level and shadow detail retention are desirable. It's not just a matter of contrast ratio. The absolute level of black also matters.


Imagine how "good" an amplifier would sound if it had a great signal to noise ratio due to its megawatt output but also had a noise floor which of 50 dB SPL. This is exactly the problem with whiter than black blacks. The additional light that shouldn't be present during black is simply a visual noise floor. No matter how much you turn up the volume to compensate, you can't make the system match the performance and fidelify of a system with a very low noise floor. It's simply not the same.


Yep, you CAN mask a noise amplfiier by turning a fan in your room (adding light to make the blacks seem darker), but it's far better to get a quieter amp and truely make the noise go away.


The light level of a projector when it is presenting pure black signal SHOULD be specified in addition to total light output and contrast ratio. Not having that information is anathema to understanding how that display will look.


We want transparency during all scenes including darkly lit ones. The ability of a display to disappear and have no discernible image plane is something to strive for.


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Guy Kuo
www.ovationsw.com
Ovation Software, the Home of AVIA DVD


 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Robert Whitehead:
I've been a long time CRT FPTV owner, waiting and wantng to move to digital. Unlike most CRT fanatics I am not impressed with their ability to produce pure blacks.


If a digital proj can resolve the shadow detail in material like that, then I think that should be more than adequete to anyone who is reasonable. To strive to match CRT pure black BEYOND that is, I think, a waste of time. Unless, of course you only watch Avia and A Video Standard.
Indeed? This begs a few questions. What are you using for a CRT projector, on what sort of screen, and under what lighting conditions? Secondly, has your CRT display been properly calibrated?


If you really are less than satisfied with blacks on a calibrated CRT projector then I cannot possibly see how you would find any digital projector acceptable.


And your second comment makes even less sense. It suggests that a properly calibrated display is not necessary. For my reaction to that see Bob Wood's earlier post:

Quote:


Bull***t.
In my view much of what is being said here are noble rationalizations in an attempt to support one's own choice. We are all biased to some degree. I do think there are some fine digital projectors out there, they just don't compare favorably to a good CRT. I had an NEC LT-150 here for about a week and now own an NEC LT-155 (a better choice for my needs). Neither could come close to matching blacks and gray scale accuracy of my NEC XG 8" CRT projector in an A/B comparision. I have never seen a D-ILA, but I do have plans to get one in the comming months after the holidays.


Let me put it another way. Any forum member within driving distance of my house (Robert, you are close to me) is welcome to bring your digital projector to my home to compare its display capabilities to my calibrated CRT projector. If you can honestly say afterwards that your digital projector is more faithful to film source DVD than my XG CRT and convince me of that then I will treat you to a nice lunch, give you a nice bottle of wine to take home with you, and place an order for whatever it is you are using.


--Jerome


[This message has been edited by jsaliga (edited 10-06-2001).]
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Grant Smyth:
I am not saying that digital technology can't do better - it can and will. What I am saying is that the best digital projectors are doing a good job now and will get better - let's enjoy what we have and strive for better. I am certainly not going to ostracize digital because it's not perfect - think about it - what is? CRT? It sure isn't perfect for me! I can say this because this is the digital section and the CRT fanatics are obliged to respect that, just as we respect their right to rant about the how crummy digital is in comparison to their beloved behemoths over on their section of this forum (which they do in a regular and predictable fashion).
Grant,


As usual you have some good points. But you do seem to take these debates personally. Like Bob Wood, I'm not especially loyal to CRT per se. When I find a digital projector that surpass its display quality I will replace my CRT with it and be an ardent supporter of it in this forum.


I find these discussions about as useful as the Intel vs. AMD debates that occur daily in the HTPC forum. I happen to use AMD and its detractors do not in the least bit diminish my enjoyment of my system nor have they convinced me that I made a bad choice. One thing that I think is easy to loose sight of in these discussions is that digital projectors can produce a very respectable picture. I frequently have guests over who never have seen a front projected picture outside of a movie theater and they are repeatedly wowed by the LT-155. I personally think it is an outstanding digital projector for the money and if that was the only projector I owned I think I could be happy with it. Having said that, however, everyone, and I mean everyone I have had over preferred the picture of the NEC XG CRT projector to that of the LT-155. Does that mean the LT-155 is a bad projector? Absolutely not!!


We all have reasons for making our choices. And most who post regularly here are already familiar with the pros and cons of each technology. Personally, I don't find the black level arguments presented here vis a vis digital projectors especially compelling, but that does not mean that choosing digital is a bad choice in and of itself.


I am reminded of a phone conversation I had with forum member KennyG a few weeks ago, who wisely said that sometimes he gets the impression that we focus too much on equipment at times and forget that it's really all about watching movies. The equipment is really a means to an end. How many people rushed out and replaced their existing projector with something else just on forum hype without critically considering the cost/benefit? Lots I would surmise. How many people in this forum spend more time fussing over their display technology and less time actually watching movies? Probably quite a few.


Different strokes for different folks. I think there is room enough for everyone here.


--Jerome


[This message has been edited by jsaliga (edited 10-06-2001).]
 

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I think our frames of reference are what always makes this discussion so passionate. The only time I came close to seeing absolute black was in Mammoth Cave when they turned out the lights. The darkest sky outside the city does not begin to compare with that experience, but night skies are my frame of reference for "black" because they are what I see most often. I've also never visited a studio (let alone a live performance!) where there was absolute quiet. My frame of reference for music reproduction is the original music I've heard in the past--not an anechoic chamber.


The absolute blacks that CRT makes are powerfully seductive. However, they do exaggerate what is actually possible with film. I have yet to see a movie in any theater produce CRT level black. That can be good or bad. It's hard to believe the director's original vision for black level can only be realized once a film is released to home video and our CRT technology. However, it's also hard to accept that one should sacrifice the "better" black levels that CRT makes possible in the name of reproducing a more "film-like" experience. It's been said before: different strokes.
 

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I have practically the same LCD setup as Joe House except I'm using a Grayhawk screen (which BTW made a major improvement in both black and contrast). Realistically speaking, it is not as good as the better CRT setups I have seen at CES and other places. My ultimate CRT is the G90/Faroudja combo which simply is better than anything you'll ever see in a theater.


I find I'm more sensitive to black level than expected and are not totally pleased with darkish films like "Red Violin" let alone "Dark City". However, friends and family who have seen the setup always rave about it, so I attribute part of my problem to seeing too many great setups at shows plus hanging around a bunch of rabid HT natics like your esteemed selves.


I'll never own a CRT because it is simply not workable in my HT room. But I'll probably switch to DLP when the next generation of brighter high-contrast units emerges in 2-3 years. Until then, for the most part I am enjoying the living daylights out of this very bright, very colorful and very easy to use Sanyo.


BTW, Joe! Have you tried tweaking the contrast level on the Quadscan and what happened?


Bob, I see you've returned to the "Sultan of Cheap". I think this is good as the previous title was simply too pretentious for a down-and-dirty cheapskate! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif


Dan
 

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Guy, that's a really good argument and analogy. However, I think the eye+brain and the ear+brain are work differently in that the eye has a relatively narrow range for the lightest to darkest visible objects in a "scene" compared to the ear. Plus, the ear doesn't have an iris/pupil that allows you only to percieve a limited range of what is produced. It just can't hear something if there is competition that is louder. Yet we can see two objects of different brightness at the same time, but we don't see their absolute brightness, we instead see the brightness of the brighter object, and percieve the dimmer object only relatively, regardless of its absolute brightness or how visible it would be in the absence of the brighter object. The eye "creates" the scene based upon the amount of light available. Extremely bright things will nevertheless look completely black to us when other parts of the scene "stop down" our pupil. I think this is why high contrast makes shadow detail look real, and the blackest parts of a scene always look completely black on a high contrast machine, even though my hand might cast a shadow there.


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Joe


"I'm a Dapper Dan man!"
 

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Jerome, Robert Whitehead wasn't saying that CRT blacks aren't black or that they are inadequate. Just the opposite. He is saying they are unnecessarily black, i.e. overkill for the program material. They make things look blacker that they looked in the movie or even in real life. They actually alter the look of the source. I will have to say I agree, but... See, my direct view tube has always been my standard, because I spend much more time in front of it, than at the theater. So that is what my brain expects to see. That's why theater blacks don't recreate that "cartoon" look that I expect, and that I see in a tube. You know, high color, super contrast, extra punch. The theater picture always seems more homogenous, but big makes up for a lot. So do we want "theater-like" or "tube-like"? Until I got my 38t/21N I was "settling" for what i felt was theater-like. But the limited contrast, color, brightness, and shadow detail combined to make me prefer my tube, and just assume I couldn't get there. This projector gave me the tube appearance I wanted. It is bright and contrasty enough to fool my eye into seeing pitch black, yet with great shadow detail even in the darkest scenes.


Dan, get your hand out from in front of the screen! I really am worried about your feeling that your not getting shadow detail. I bought and watched Dark City just to see what the hubub was about. It looked just right. I tried a little piece gray screen material once, and didn't like it. I though I lost a lot. The picture of the grayhawk on the cover of the new Audio Video Interiors magazine looks lousy. Talk about no shadow detail. And their screen shots usually look perfect. The article says you have to jack up the brightness and contrast to compensate for it. See, I think whiter whites is the key to good blacks, rather than dimming the whites so the black areas reflect less light too. Something about it gives me the willys.


And the factory default brightness and contrast on both the projector and the QSE look perfect on Avia and V/E, so I'm leaving it alone. It is ONLY on some all white uniformed football teams that the whites are a little crushed, that I sometimes need cut the contrast 2 or 3 notches. But that isn't even necessary most of the time.


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Joe


"I'm a Dapper Dan man!"


[This message has been edited by JHouse (edited 10-06-2001).]
 

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Hey guys...the debate rages on.

I suppose I'm one of those "CRT fanatics", while I don't rail against digital, in fact, one day I will own one.

At this time, for me, the benefits of CRT's picture outweight the benefits of digital.

I can say the same thing as Jerome. I'm not loyal to CRT just to be in that "camp", nor am I pig headed enough not to look at digital with an open mind.

In fact after seeing the Sultan's NEC LT150 DLP, I too could have been very happy with that presentation...IF I hadn't seen a good CRT, and when I say good I don't mean an unreachable G90 or Ehome 9500lc, I mean something as good as a $4,000 xg110...anyone who thinks it takes a 9" projector to produce a superior picture hasn't seen a good 8".

Would I like to have the cigar sized LT150 that can be hushed with a cardboard box over it...YOU BET! With every generation of digital the picture quality gets closer and closer, and I'm keeping an eye on them, and the ownly thing holding me back to the black level, which creates a realism that just isn't seen in digital yet.

I'm hoping that with the Sultan's DLP and/or D-ila he will work one or the other into a picture I can except...by the way Bob, when are we going to paint that grey screen???

I WANT to see digital match CRT.

One thing to note, the CRT "fanatics" aren't nearly as tough on digital as many of you think...we're all keeping an eye out.

Bob, you going to be around today? I need to have a look at your cal'ed D-ila! With Football back, Sundays are now out for me!

Remember, hardware is just the means to an end, it's the movies that matter.


Kenny
 

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Joe:


I tried it on a near-white wall and then the Grayhawk. I used a video that had a guy with a black leather jacket on. Before Grayhawk, there was very little detail on the leather jacket. After, far more realism and depth.


The gray material you tried out was one of those samples from another manufacturer, I had one too. They are not the same animal!


I think I've got my brightness setting AOK to get good whites. I looked specifically at this after you gave us all a "heads up."


You'll just have to come down here to Albuquerque and take a look at it! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif


You're probably right about the hand in the screen. Now if I could just get the Panamorph I paid for 10 months ago!


Dan
 
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