JVC DLA-X3 D-ILA 3D Projector Page 2
The DLA-X3 can save Lens Aperture and Lamp Power settings for each of the available memory presets. This comes in handy if you use different iris positions for different playback sources or you want to have a different lamp power for 2D playback versus 3D playback.
During the later part of the review, I decided to add a Lumagen Radiance Mini-3D video processor ($1,999) into my system. Since the DLA-X3 doesn’t have a built-in color management system, I wanted to see how it would look with a perfect calibration.
The Lumagen is a fantastic piece that allows for parametric gray-scale/gamma calibration and a full color management system. This let me dial in the DLA-X3’s color gamut, gray scale, and gamma to perfection. While the DLA-X3 was already quite good with its base settings, the refinement that the Lumagen Mini-3D provided took it one level higher, with perfect color rendition and perfect linear gamma tracking. This is an option that you should definitely consider if you want to get the most out of the DLA-X3 but don’t want to spend the extra money on the DLA-X7. With the Lumagen, you can also do a full calibration for 3D, something that even the upper end of the JVC line lacks. After my time with the Lumagen Mini-3D, I decided that my system couldn’t be without it, and I’ve added it to my reference setup.
The DLA-X3 has several HDMI modes that deal with reference black and white levels (digital brightness levels). Out of the box, the DLA-X3’s HDMI is set at Standard, which displays digital brightness values between 16 and 235 only. This means the projector clips below-black and above-white information by default. There’s also an Enhanced mode that shows the full digital range of 0 “to 255. The Enhanced setting is the easiest for setting the proper black and white levels for calibration, as long as the source is also displaying the full range. The Standard setting is probably easier for most novices. The default brightness and contrast settings are correct for the mode, and it doesn’t really matter what the source is feeding the projector. Keep in mind that this will eliminate headroom for any material that may have above-white information. There’s also a Super White option that only clips below digital brightness level 16 but retains the above-white information above digital brightness level 235. I used the Enhanced setting, as I prefer a bit of headroom with contrast. Which setting you decide to use will have more to do with what the source is capable of and how comfortable you are setting brightness and contrast correctly. Whichever mode you choose, this setting applies globally across all of the picture settings.
Lens Aperture controls a manual iris and lets you improve the projector’s contrast performance at the expense of brightness. The bottom entries in earlier generations of D-ILA projectors offered either no lens aperture adjustment at all or, more recently, three fixed settings. More precise control came only in the stepup models. The DLA-X3’s Lens Aperture has 16 fixed settings, from 0 to –15, with 0 the brightest and –15 the dimmest.
This range of adjustment let me dial in my preferred image brightness for my room and improve the projector’s contrast performance. I typically like my projector to display about 12 to 14 foot-lamberts on my 1.3gain 120-inch-diagonal Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 130 screen. With my previous projector, the JVC DLA-RS35 (the Reference Series version of the identical DLA-HD990), I didn’t have to run the iris wide open to reach this goal. So I was surprised to find that I had to run the DLA-X3 in High lamp mode, with the iris almost fully open, to obtain the same peak brightness level. This despite the fact that the DLA-X3 has a higher-wattage lamp. I was really hoping that the DLA-X3’s new lamp would afford more lumens, allowing for a more aggressive Lens Aperture setting to take advantage of its contrast performance. Unfortunately, the new lamp just doesn’t seem to add any clear benefit despite its claimed increase in light output.
For 3D playback, JVC offers a 3D Picture Mode preset that ups the color temperature and defaults the lamp to High and the iris (Lens Aperture) to fully open. Like every 3D front-projection design, light output is crucial to making the most of a 3D presentation since you lose a lot of light wearing the active shutter glasses. To get the best overall color during playback, the 3D Mode also changes the color to compensate for the tint of the lenses in the glasses. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tailor the gamma; JVC offers only two options in 3D mode: A and B. A was a bit too dark, and B was almost too light. Overall, I found that B was the best compromise; it allowed for the best shadow detail with darker 3D material.
A New Experience
The first thing I do when I get a projector is a full calibration. Since the DLA-X3 doesn’t offer a full color management system, this didn’t take long. The defaults I mentioned earlier got it pretty close to the mark and delivered an outstanding image with plenty of punch and a very naturallooking color presentation.
Like anyone else, I was pretty anxious to see how well this first-generation projector would perform with 3D. I’ve been to lots of digital cinema 3D presentations using RealD, Dolby 3D Digital Cinema, and IMAX 3D, but this was my first real experience with active shutter glasses other than some short demonstrations at trade shows.