Mitsubishi HC8000D 3D DLP Projector Page 2

Dialing in a reasonable gamma on the Mitsubishi proved tricky. The Auto iris settings affected it rather dramatically, but without the Auto iris, the blacks were too light. And either with or without the Auto iris setting, the gamma wasn’t particularly uniform from top to bottom. Attempts to linearize it using the gamma fine-tuning adjustments took hours and ultimately resulted in little improvement, not least of all because most of the gamma fine-tuning controls were at or near the bottom end of the brightness range—30 percent and below. Above the 50 percent brightness level, the only adjustments were 70 percent and 90 percent. I ultimately stuck with a reference gamma of 2.4—the highest available setting—with the iris in Auto3. This produced an average gamma of 2.11 (with a low of 1.86 at 90 percent). A gamma of 2.2 worked better on some sources because it slightly lightened the picture. But this wasn’t always a good compromise, particularly on dark scenes.

While I wasn’t entirely happy with the gamma linearity, with or without the Auto iris engaged, there was no denying that the Mitsubishi produced an excellent 2D picture. Yes, the blacks were significantly lighter than the best I’ve experienced, but even on movies loaded with dark scenes, I rarely felt shortchanged. The star fields on Prometheus were surprisingly rich, and the dark cave scenes, while a little grayer than the best I’ve seen them, were convincingly ominous. Only when the scene’s video dynamic range extended a little further than from black to dark gray (as in many of the most challenging shots from the last few Harry Potter films), with no bright highlights to provide added snap, did I miss the higher contrast that some competitive projectors offer. The letterbox bars on material that doesn’t fill the entire scene will, however, always remind you of the projector’s less than state-of-the-art black level and contrast.

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Mitsubishi’s Auto iris was less aggressive than some and never produced any visible brightness pumping or audible mechanical noise. In fact, it was so subtle in its operation that I sometimes wondered if it was functioning at all. But the gamma readings noted above—and other results shown in the Test Bench—indicate that it certainly was.

The HC8000D’s black level may be little better than acceptable, but with its brilliant color and more than adequate brightness, its post- calibration images came to life. While there were some measurable deviations from a spot-on Rec. 709 color gamut, they were nearly impossible to detect by eye. The all-important fleshtones were always believable, and from the vividly cartoonish clothing in the Capital city in The Hunger Games to the near monochrome look of Oblivion, nothing looked wrong.

DLP almost invariably produces marginally sharper images than LCD or LCOS (though no one would call the best LCD or LCOS projectors soft). And the Mitsubishi’s crisp detail reflected this. There was never any question that the HC8000D produced the image clarity you have a right to expect—not only at this price, but from even far more expensive projectors.

Single-chip DLPs do have one ongoing issue: rainbows from the rotating color wheel. I’m very sensitive to them (many people are not) and could easily spot them on the Mitsubishi in the usual places—primarily scenes with bright highlights against dark backgrounds. The color wheel can be sped up from its usual 4x speed to 6x (for 1080p/24 sources only), which did reduce the rainbow effect significantly. But it had a nasty side effect: It shifted the gamma dramatically. In my measurements, the 6x setting, with no other changes, increased the gamma to an average of 2.65, and a maximum of 3.25 at 90 percent! I used 4x for all of my viewing, and while the images were not rainbow-free in this setting, they only occasionally distracted me. They may not bother you at all.

Three-D
The 3D menu offers the usual 3D controls, plus a 3D 24p frame rate control with 96-hertz or 120-Hz options. I chose 96 Hz. There’s also a 3D F.R.C. Level control separate from the F.R.C. control for 2D) and a 2D-to-3D conversion mode.

Mitsubishi’s battery-operated, non-rechargeable, active 3D glasses sell for $199 per pair and the 3D sync tramsmitter for $99. To make use of the HC8000D’s 3D capability, you’ll need to add both. A 3D Glasses control offers High Speed and Normal operation, but Normal further reduced the projector’s already dim 3D picture. Plugging in the IR emitter for the 3D glasses was also a little tricky, as it uses relatively fragile five-pin DIN plugs that could be damaged if inserted wrong. Take care.

Once set up, however, the projector produced respectable 3D images. Its most notable strength was a near total lack of 3D ghosting. I never saw ghosting at all on the material I watched (including some frequent ghosting offenders), though I obviously haven’t viewed all the 3D material out there. But the Mitsubishi’s resistance to ghosting was superior to most of the competition we’ve seen.

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The only fly in the projector’s 3D ointment was brightness. Bright animated films, such as Despicable Me, fared reasonably well. But others, including Avatar, Captain America, and A Christmas Carol, wore out their 3D welcome long before their second acts, with a lack of image pop and compromised contrast from the low gamma used in the 3D Gamma Mode to provide at least a semblance of brightness. Changing back to 2D with any of these films was a welcome relief from the gloom.

In fairness, limited brightness is not a problem unique to Mitsubishi; it’s a plague on affordable home 3D projectors in general, though some are worse than others. The only cures would be a much higher-gain screen, a smaller one, or both—which involve their own set of compromises. The only completely satisfying home 3D I’ve seen has come from 4K Ultra HD flat panels equipped with passive 3D glasses.

Conclusions
An accumulation of little and middling concerns, including black levels not quite up to the best of the competition, dim 3D, and the issues I encountered in calibration keep the Mitsubishi from Top Pick status. But, subjectively, it can produce a very pleasing picture on most 2D program material, where I found its performance solid and satisfying. As I worked my way through both favorite and unfamiliar program material over the course of weeks, I never felt the urge to rush through the process. The Mitsubishi’s color, resolution, and, yes, its subjective contrast on most program material, invariably invited me to extend every viewing session far longer than planned. And I did.

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