Sony VPL-VW915ES 4K LCOS Projector Review Test Bench

Test Bench

Full-On/Full-Off Contrast Ratio: Infinite (Dynamic Full), 31,000:1 (Dynamic Limited), 14,000:1 (Native)

Measurements were taken in a variety of conditions with the bulk made using the projector's Reference preset. The selected gamma preset was 2.2. All calibration was done with the dynamic laser/iris disabled and the contrast ratio measurements taken in a variety of modes as noted. Calibration work was done using a Colorimetry Research CR100 colorimeter profiled to a Colorimetry Research CR250 spectroradiometer via CalMan 2020. All viewing and measurements were done on a 140-inch diagonal 2.40:1 Stewart Studiotek 130 screen (1.3 gain). Post-calibration results improved to a max dE of 1.9 and an average of 1.2 for grayscale/gamma and a max of 1.6 and average of .9 for colorimetry (SDR/REC.709). These are reference level results for any display.


Pre Calibration


Post Calibration

Full on/off contrast was measured with a Minolta T-10 meter from approximately 12 inches away from the lens face. I tested the projector at 100% laser levels using a range of dynamic laser/iris settings:


The overall contrast performance of Sony's 915ES was an improvement over what I previously measured with the company's 995ES model, which features a similar dynamic contrast system (dynamic laser dimming plus a dynamic iris in the lens assembly). This applied to not only its native contrast, but the different dynamic modes as well. There was not much difference between the Dynamic Full and Limited modes until you approached near-black levels of 2% or lower. The 915ES had similar results to the 995ES in that a single lit pixel onscreen did have a noticeable effect on the black floor, lowering the effective contrast ratio regardless of which mode was used. This should be used as a more realistic expectation for overall dynamic range for any contrast mode.–KRD

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drny's picture

Unfortunately, Sony's propensity to overcharge for their projectors (compared to the competition) continues. This is specially offensive in their Native 4k models. A Laser light engine is fantastic, but only if the overall performance of the 915ES was comparable to JVC's NX9 (which is not). Thank you Kris for a thorough examination of the 915ES, and your astute expert observations.

str8uprubbish's picture

Can you compare this to the latest JVC projector from the point of view of black level and shadow detail? I have a 9 year old 1080p JVC projector with a 120 inch screen and despite auditioning multiple 4k projectors including the prior Sony laser projector I haven't seen enough of a performance difference to justify upgrading. Are we at the point where there are obvious differences now?

Kris Deering's picture

The JVCs still have the upper hand in overall contrast capabilities and shadow detail performance. Their native contrast is still much higher and only get better if you engage their dynamic solutions. The Sony laser designs don't do dynamic contrast as well as their lamp based designs, so you are really relying on their native contrast. While this is still higher than most projectors on the market today, it is still only about half the contrast capability of the newer JVCs.

Swordoflevi's picture

Kris, I loved the review. Being an ISF calibrator during the hard times (3 tube projectors with faroudja line scalers and D6500 light boxes LOL), I would like to know why so many high end barco projectors are not reviewed and unfortunately there are no places to view them on demonstration.

Since 85% of movie theater projectors are Barcos in the Commerical world, can you fill in the gaps of understanding for me on the quality of these projectors if you have seen them. For example, the Bragi Cinemascope projector I have been trying to read about and would love to know more about. It has a native 2.37:1 ratio chips so that no anamorphic lens is a required. It has 2100 lumens but they claim it appears so much brighter because of the technology. They have partnered with DT Screens but I can't hardly find great in depth reviews about them compared to the Stewart screens. The Bragi is around 30-35k so it is more than the Sony and the JVC but I would love to know what I am getting (if anything) when you go higher in price. Any detailed information would be tremendous or an AWESOME review of a Bragi would be beneficial to many of your readers.

Looking forward to your response and more in depth articles.

Kris Deering's picture

Thanks for the feedback! I have seen two Bragi projectors recently, the "widescreen" version and the 16x9 version. These are really not anything like their DCi counterparts you see in cinema installations and rely on the XPR based DLP chips to achieve their resolution. So they are a pixel shifting solution as opposed to the native 4K imaging chips used in Sony and JVC models. They also suffer from the limitations of the dynamic range potential of the more recent DLP DMD chips, which is only a fraction of the contrast potential of the SXRD and D-ILA brands mentioned before. And at these price points it makes any type of comparison almost not fair given the vast differences in performance between what the Barco's you mentioned can achieve in direct comparison with the Sony/JVC models at half the cost but far higher performance metrics. Maybe at some point we will do some reviews of the upper DLP offerings from folks like Barco, but that is not my call!

Swordoflevi's picture


Thank you for the reply. I have two more questions.

From what the rep told me, the Bragi has a single chip DLP .9" I believe and its native resolution is 5120 x 2160. From my understanding to be considered a true 4k resolution it has to be 3860 x 2160. Since the Bragi Cinemascope is native 2.37:1 ratio I didn't believe any pixel shifting was occurring. Do I have my understanding screwed up on this?

Here is the spec on the one I am referring to.

2.) Have you seen DT screens at all? I am so interested in their Dynamic screens because of their auto detection side masking.

Again, I REALLY appreciate your comments here.