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Discussion Starter #1
I have a BenQ PE8700that throws a very good picture but one thing that I don’t like is the lack of detailin the shadows or dark scenes where the overall picture is just too dark. I am going to upgrade my projector and tryingto understand the contrast ratio and dark area detail. I think it’s importantto have good detail in the darker parts of the picture. As the bulb ages in my BenQ shadowdetail is the first thing to go, is that normal for DLP projectors.is it safe to say that Sony and Epson will handle dark detail better.
Alex
 

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Dark detail is more about your room and less about your projector and all about your eyes and how they perceive contrast. Projectors do not project out black light to the screen they project out “no” light to be black. At least that’s what they try and do they all cant shut off 100% of the light to a pixel so you get some sort of a gray black. The better projector does a better job of getting closer to no light. That being said black will only be as black as what you see the screen as with what ever light is left in the room. If you have a white screen in a totally sealed room and the projector is turned off it will look very black. Turn the projector on and some of the projected light bounces around the room and back to the screen and the screen no longer looks black it looks gray and you loose CR and dark detail. That’s part A of how you see black.

Part B is your eyes. When the image holds lots of bright areas and some black or dark areas your eyes adjust and the pupil gets smaller to control the brightness of the image. when that happens the overall amount of light coming from the dark area is lessened because of the smaller iris of your eye. Blacks look blacker in terms of CR because of the brightness. That is what is called perceived contrast and you don’t get that when the image is all dark and your eyes are wide open searching for detail.

You can help fix the problem in 3 different ways by improving and matching these 3 things to work together. They are projector, screen and room. Any or all of them may need to be addressed. In short putting the worlds best CR projector in the worlds worst room will not help the problem at all. :)
 

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One other thing that should be mentioned is having things calibrated properly. There is a dedicated forum to this subject so I will just mention a few things that could trash shadow detail if set incorrectly.
Mismatch of level (happens a lot with using computers and little internet boxes as source)wrong mode choice, Wrong gamma setting, incorrectly set brightness and contrast, not setting receivers to hdmi pass though and having processing going on in the receiver. Of course there is also the limitations of entry level gear.
 

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Top notch shadow details require immense levels of contrast.
This is why the Jvcs , oleds and even crts, are so noticeably better in darker scenes with low illumination highlights.

In the average mixed fairly bright scene our eyes are not sensitive enough to tell the difference.
Our eyes are dynamic in that sense, able to differentiate immense contrast under the right low light conditions but not much of a range at all in daylight.
 

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Top notch shadow details require immense levels of contrast.
This is why the Jvcs , oleds and even crts, are so noticeably better in darker scenes with low illumination highlights.

In the average mixed fairly bright scene our eyes are not sensitive enough to tell the difference.
Our eyes are dynamic in that sense, able to differentiate immense contrast under the right low light conditions but not much of a range at all in daylight.
I don't entirely agree. Projectors will less than world class contrast can display very good shadow detail. The Sony 40es is known for good shadow detail with a on / off contrast of only 5000:1.

I think the factors airscapes mentioned are more important. Hell an incorrect brightness setting alone can kill shadow detail.
 

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I don't entirely agree. Projectors will less than world class contrast can display very good shadow detail. The Sony 40es is known for good shadow detail with a on / off contrast of only 5000:1.

I think the factors airscapes mentioned are more important. Hell an incorrect brightness setting alone can kill shadow detail.
What don't you entirely agree with? If 2 projectors are calibrated and one of them has much higher native contrast, it will do better with shadow detail. Sure a poorly calibrated projector can crush shadow detail.

I shouldn't have used the term "top notch", as that implies subjectivity, when the contrast can in fact be objectively measured. Shadow detail is just a function of proper gamma tracking and available contrast.

I guess I misunderstood this thread. I thought op wanted to know the science behind it, sounds like they just need to properly calibrate their projector/gamma as the bulb dims.
As the bulb dims the entire visible light range will dim, crushing shadow detail to black in the process, you will need to adjust the brightness, and gamma controls to compensate (recalibrate).

The Sony's and Epson 5000 series (especially ub) will provide better black level, allowing you to see more detail in dark scenes with a lower overall light level (aka dark scenes will be darker). If you don't set the brightness and gamma correctly though then you will crush the shadow detail regardless of available contrast.
 

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What don't you entirely agree with? If 2 projectors are calibrated and one of them has much higher native contrast, it will do better with shadow detail. Sure a poorly calibrated projector can crush shadow detail.

I shouldn't have used the term "top notch", as that implies subjectivity, when the contrast can in fact be objectively measured. Shadow detail is just a function of proper gamma tracking and available contrast.

I guess I misunderstood this thread. I thought op wanted to know the science behind it, sounds like they just need to properly calibrate their projector/gamma as the bulb dims.
As the bulb dims the entire visible light range will dim, crushing shadow detail to black in the process, you will need to adjust the brightness, and gamma controls to compensate (recalibrate).

The Sony's and Epson 5000 series (especially ub) will provide better black level, allowing you to see more detail in dark scenes with a lower overall light level (aka dark scenes will be darker). If you don't set the brightness and gamma correctly though then you will crush the shadow detail regardless of available contrast.
I don't agree with your statement: 'Top notch shadow details require immense levels of contrast'. The Sony I mention is known for good shadow detail but the contrast is hardly immense.
 

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Contrast is the difference between the darkest dark and the brightest bright a projector can produce and has little to do with detail in dark scenes. The ability of the projector to produce clear defined steps in brightness and a proper gamma curve is where you get detail in the images. Yes, a projector that has a very low minimum light output should look much better than one with more, but that does not mean you are going to have good shadow detail. I worked with an older (at the time it was new) JVC projector that did not calibrate currently and had really crappy shadow detail, it was dark with no light output but you could not see what was going on.. Lots of contrast but crushed detail...
Just saying, there is NO spec that controls "Shadow Detail" It is part of a properly designed and set up display device.. be it TV or projector. Of course room conditions also have a lot to do with it.. "Mom complains, I can't see what is going on in my soap opera it is to dark, turn up the TV!" As she sits in the room with noon time sun light shining on the TV..
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all your input. This is a great discussion on one of the important aspects when deciding on a projector that I don’t see talked about that much, I have learned a lot and have a better understanding of how a projector forms its image, thanks to all. My setup is a dedicated home theater room that is a bat cave and the picture looks great when the bulb is new but soon the bulb ages and the picture drops off quickly so I think that my best bet is to recalibrate. I am also looking to upgrade my old PE8700 projector to one of 3 contenders DLP type, Sony 45es or Epson 5030.have already upgraded screen to 135 inch Silver Ticket that is a great value. I will be looking at bulb life and how the picture changes with age. I am leaning to the Sony and waiting for reviews.
 
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