Canadian Rob Brown recently got an Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 projector and wants to know about my recommended settings:
I am very pleased with the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 (not the "UB" model, which wasn't available at the time I made the purchase). I have a room in which I can easily ceiling-mount it, darken the room, turn up the audio, and enjoy a 100-inch-diagonal picture! It is bright and quiet, blacks are deep, and colors are excellent.
I set up the projector according to a few reviews, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions for appropriate settings. I am especially interested in your opinion on using the auto-iris function. Reviewers differ in their recommendations on that setting. Some suggest it enhances contrast. What do you think?
Great question! Actually, you bring up two questions, so I'll address the most obvious one first. Regarding the auto iris found in many projectors, you're correct that opinions differ. This feature does indeed enhance contrast, lowering the light level in dark scenes and raising it in bright scenes. But I generally find it to be distracting. I can usually see it working as the iris changes the overall light level depending on how bright each scene is, a phenomenon called "pumping." In some cases, I can also hear the mechanism moving back and forth.
Long-time ISF calibrator Kevin Miller agrees with me, preferring to leave all auto irises off. However, UAV reviewer Tom Norton takes a more individual approach, trying it in each projector he reviews to see how obvious it is. He has preferred to use the auto iris on most of the projectors he's reviewed recently, including the Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 UB, but he says it caused obvious pumping on the $15,000 Sony VPL-VW200. The moral of the story is thistry the auto iris yourself to determine if you can see any pumping. If not, it will increase the contrast by lowering the blacks in dark scenes.
The other question to which you allude regards display settings in general. As you might know, each UAV video-display review includes all the settings we used in the evaluation. In each case, we include a note that unit-to-unit variations, room lighting, screen material, and other factors can affect many of the settings, which means that our settings might not be the best for you.
During the recent CEDIA show, I had dinner with Joel Sliver, president of the Imaging Science Foundation, who had a brilliant idea about this issue. He noted that some of our settings, such as sharpness and film mode, are entirely reliable regardless of any extenuating factors, while others, such as brightness and contrast, depend heavily on sample variations and environment. He suggested that I identify which controls readers must set for themselves and which can take on our settings with confidence. I intend to implement this suggestion as soon as possible, so look for it in future display reviews.
If you have an audio/video question for me, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.