In this section, we will discuss the sharpness and black level performance of these affordable 4K capable projectors.
Photos (Left to Right): Epson HC5040UB, Optoma UHD65, Epson PC4040, Epson HC4000
Score one for the 4K UHD projectors. The Optoma models and Vivitek are inherently sharper. Their 2716x1528 x 2 DLP chip simply has smaller pixels than the 1920x1080 LCD panels in the Epsons. Optoma uses the same 1:6:1 manual zoom optics and light path (except for the color wheel), in both models, while Epson uses the same 2.1:1 motorized zoom and light path, but the 5040UB uses 3LCD panels with higher native contrast than the HC4000 or PC4040.
The Optoma and the Vivitek, also have the sharpness advantage of being single chip devices, so there’s no inherent misalignment that’s found with a three-chip system like the Epsons. They pay a price for that – needing to have a color wheel trips up those of us who are rainbow sensitive, but most people aren’t. Are you, or your family?
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I don’t think any company puts as many controls and types of processing to make the image sharper than Epson. Anyone could go crazy experimenting with the near infinite choices, but they do provide a simple solution called Image Enhancement with 5 settings (and off). They are most impressive. For normal every day use, settings one and two are just fine and definitely improve perceived sharpness and detail, but for some content, when I want things razor sharp (especially for sports) I dial up setting 4 (Preset 2 is my Go-To).
Using heavy advanced processing basically is adding noise, but noise that makes the picture look sharper and more detailed. There are always some additional artifacts. Epson does a great job, though. When set for 4, you will think it’s as sharp as the Optomas or even a 4K projector, but, if you look closely, you can spot the effects of edge sharpening and other techniques, especially when paused, for my photo shoots.
My point is, the Optomas are inherently sharper, but you can make the Epson look about as sharp and detailed without significant noise, that most would notice.
That helps level the difference, but still count the Optoma (and Vivitek) 4K UHDs as sharper, and a touch more detailed.
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