Let's take a good look at sharpness (and detail), or rather what we perceive as sharpness. As I've stated, all these projectors have lots of image processing, and especially true of all non-native 4K projectors when doing 4K content. These Epsons are, of course, pixel shifters, and Epson has had some pretty excellent algorithms, which allows them to look at first glance to be every bit as sharp as more expensive native 4K projectors. Still there's always a price to pay. "trade-offs"
In our photo player above, There are a comparison images - close-ups of full screen photos from 4K movies, for a close look. We used the "lab" credits scene from Ghostbusters, which has plenty of different types of text, angles, and objects to compare.
When comparing look at the gauges on the left, and the small labels, and switches, etc. Remember once you have clicked to enlarge the images, you can still jump back and forth between any two for quick comparisons.
Overall, these Epsons do very well, but we've seen sharper, but only slightly, even from less expensive 4K UHD DLP projectors. It's just that sitting 15 feet back from any of the 4K capable projectors under $10K, you shouldn't see any real difference, rather contrast differences and other things that might give you the impression of sharper or softer.
Just keep in mind when "worrying" about sharpness differences, that the difference say, between this Epson projector and perhaps, the Optoma UHD65 (2716x1528x2), and the native 4K Sony (4192x2160), in what you perceive as sharpness, is going to be far less than the differences in handling HDR, or for that matter color accuracy. While I favor going native 4K, price is a huge determining factor for most of us.
When reviewing this and related Epson projectors that preceded this 5050UB, I said you could get an extremely sharp looking image with 4K content, but that there's going to be a slight bit of hardness, say on closeups of faces, that a native 4K won't have.
I do believe the new pixel shifting hardware is making a difference, but of course, only a small one. I have to agree with Epson. The pixel shifting seems more precise in that things do look just a touch sharper/softer than Epsons using the older pixel shifting technology.
I took this pair of images - the same frame - for fun, with the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB first, and with The Sony VPL-VW995ES. Now what makes this truly interesting, is you are looking at a small portion of the full image so we can see smaller details and sharpness.
One 4K UHD DLP we recently reviewed, is the ultra short throw HiSense Laser TV. it still had more hardness than the Epson, even with my cranking up Epson's Image Enhancement setting to 4 (as high as I go, out of 5).
Mostly I set the Epson Image Enhancment to 2, sometimes 3, for my viewing. For sports (1080i) I crank it to 4.
If you go back and look at the Epson vs some other 4K UHDs in the Ghostbusters credits, you'll notice some may seem a touch sharper, others not. Since most use similar lenses, and the same DLP chip, etc. The differences are likely to be how good each one is in terms of image processing.
The bottom line on sharpness. The Epsons can be beaten by the 4K UHD DLPs and by native 4Ks, but with its very good image enhancement controls any slight softness is likely gone, in exchange for a touch of hardness. Further, a significant chunk of people will likely prefer that "harder look" in most scenes. Remember, we shoot still images. Something like a touch of hardness that is just visible on a still image is almost certainly unnoticeable on a constantly changing video.
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