Basic calibration was done, using a pluge pattern, to set black levels. A white-on-white chip chart was used to set contrast levels. This is critical in any side-by-side comparison to ensure maximum contrast and maximum detail in both shadows and highlights. Color temperature was set to 6500 degrees by using the manufacturer settings.
Here’s a quick comparison of their major specs:
|Image Type:||3 LCD (SXRD Reflective)||Single Chip DLP|
|Native Resolution:||Native 4K (4096 x 2160)||UHD (3840×2160)|
|Contrast Ratio:||Not Given||1,200,000:1|
|Dimensions (WxDxH):||19 1/2″ x 7 11/16″ x 18 1/4″||19.6” x 6” x 13”|
|Weight:||16 lbs.||31 lbs.|
Once this was done, we began making comparisons in color, contrast and detail.
This is where we were most curious and it was very interesting to see Optoma offer two versions of this projector. The UHD60 and the UHD65 both offer true 4K images but differ in color accuracy, frame interpolation, and contrast. Getting more accurate color in any projector, particularly a single DLP requires a trade off. In the case of the UHD65, they traded a little brightness (700 lumens) for better color – and it shows. The colors are rich, saturated and accurate, and they are very close to the Sony VPL-VW365ES – which was a real surprise for us! They have done a very nice job in getting the colors right. If a detailed color calibration with white balance was performed, they would be even closer. The Sony, however, still has a very slight edge in yellow saturation and reds. If you look closely, you will see a very slight difference in the intensity of the top yellow banner and the deeper red on the rim of the ball cap on the right side. If you did not have these side by side you would think they are the same. Very impressive for it’s price range!
One final comparison on color was skin tone. Even slight variations in white balance will affect skin tone. In this case even though the presets for 6500 degrees did not match each other, they both reproduced skin tone very well. Technically, either one could be calibrated to better match true 6500 degrees and they would come even closer. In this case, they both reproduced very pleasing tones and any preference would be up to the individual.
Here’s a closeup of the image above with the center top enlarged for examination.
After comparing both 60p 4K UHD and 24p 4K UHD source material there is no question that this Optoma UHD65 is indeed delivering 8 million pixels to the screen. The detail was crisp, sharp and very comparable to the Sony. The Sony, however, did reflect better contrast and black levels. This does affect our perception of the overall image as it tends to have more depth and help makes the detail pop a little more. The Sony, at approximately three times the price, should after all, be better, but the Optoma is a very close second and absolutely amazing for the price.
Good blacks and high contrast is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of any projector design. Each projector has a black threshold at which point no amount of menu adjustment will make the blacks darker. If you go below the lowest pluge bar you will begin to crush or eliminate detail in the black areas of the image. Sony has chosen to use its Silicon Crystal Reflective Display (SXRD) reflective LCD chips in the VPL-VW365ES in order to achieve this level of blacks. This is why the Sony costs considerably more than the single DLP designs like the UHD65 – but the Optoma projector is a noticeable and impressive level of contrast in the under $8,000 price range. The Sony is the best contrast we have experienced in a projector under $10,000 with true 4K or UHD 4K. We use it as our home theater reference projector for projectors costing under $10,000.
Semi closeup of Sony on left and Optoma on right. Slight tone variation is due to the presets of D6500K not being exactly equal but still had great color overall. Notice the differences in blacks and intensity of highlights without losing color.
As these off screen side-by-side images indicate (see You Tube video also to see full motion side-by-side comparisons) there is definitely a real difference in contrast between the two projectors. When they are both set to about the same brightness or intensity, Sony at low lamp, Optoma at bright or its highest setting, and adjusted with test patterns for maximum contrast, the Sony clearly has the advantage – if you want and can afford the better image. It is closer, however, than we had expected or should be at this projector category with its price difference – and can compete in many respects in price levels up to to the $8,000 level. (See the Epson 10500 comparison for details)
Overall Brightness and Conclusion
As shown above, the Sony matches the Optoma in it’s high or “Bright” mode. This means that if you need a screen size of less than 105″ or even a 110″ diagonal screen – either projector would provide an excellent image. The Sony, with its higher light output in its “high” mode could easily do a 150″ or even a 160″ screen or turned down to its “low” position on an under 110″ screen and get up to 8,000 hours of lamp life. The Sony is still the standard to beat in the 4K home theater projectors under $8,000. However, the Optoma UHD65 has clearly broken new ground and set a standard for UHD 4K projectors under $2,500 and can compete in many respects in price levels up to the $8,000 level. (see the Epson 10500 comparison for details)
It should be noted that the Optoma was compared in its “Reference” picture mode and D6500 setting in order to deliver the most accurate and visibly best color output. It certainly has higher light output modes but they all compromise color saturation and accuracy. In addition, we did not do any detailed technical measurements as they can easily be found elsewhere online. We wanted to see first hand and record the visual results so that others may understand and see as well. Lastly, we did not compare the feature sets and special features of each projector as we feel this will be done by others. All of the images and comparisons were done with the new production version (not a demo model).
Another clarification, some of you may be confused or not understand why the Sony, which is rated at 1,500 lumens, appears brighter than the Optoma which rated at 2,200 lumens. Let me clarify, it’s all about what the brightness is at what quality of color, in other words a manufacture usually rates a projector at its maximum light output even if the color is not really the best or in some cases not even usable. In this case, if you put the Optoma to its brightest image output mode “Bright” (not to be confused with its lamp setting “Bright”) the image is very green and skin tone is not very usable or realistic – but it can approach over 2,000 lumens. When the image mode is put at “Reference” the brightness drops to around 1,000 lumens but the color is very good and accurate. The Sony rates its home theater projectors at a more realistic level of color reproduction so at 1,500 lumens its color accuracy is still very good. That is why the Sony, rated at 1,500 lumens, can produce a brighter image than a projector, in this case, rated at 2,200 lumens.
See our review on YouTube!