Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 Laser Projector Review – Performance

March 25, 2022 / By Phil Jones

COLOR REPRODUCTION

I would rate the Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 picture quality out of the box as great. Most of the picture modes were accurate. Of the four different preset SDR picture modes available, the NATURAL mode was the most accurate.

CINEMA and BRIGHT CINEMA both produced a good picture, but the color temperature was a little cooler. In addition, BRIGHT CINEMA also delivered more brightness with boosted contrast which could be beneficial in a room with some ambient light.

The VIVID mode was the brightest mode, but it was also the least accurate. While out of the box. There may be times like watching a sporting event during the day where the extra brightness provided by the VIVID mode is worth the sacrifice.

To achieve the best out-of-the-box SDR picture, I chose the NATURAL mode which the color temp was closest to my 6500K target. In this mode, the Light Power is set to 75% but if more brightness is desired, increasing the Light Power to 100% had very little effect on color reproduction.

Whether looking at SDR or HDR content, the color reproduction was very good. Most users would be satisfied with the picture quality of the Epson LS12000 right out of the box. However, like all Home Theater projectors, I took the time to calibrate the unit.

Since your room and screen material has a major impact on the overall picture, I don’t recommend using someone else’s calibration adjustments. If your room is brighter/darker or your walls are a different color, copying someone else’s results can actually be detrimental to the picture quality rather than improving it.

Just as an example, I am including the before and after results of calibration for my specific room and screen. To test the projector’s color accuracy, we use Portrait Displays Calman color calibration software.

Pre-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale

The projector’s NATURAL picture mode was very close to my color temperature target of 6500K. In addition to very accurate Grayscale out of the box. The projector color tacking was also outstanding out of the box. Lastly, the Gamma measurement pre-calibration was very close to my target of 2.2.
We calibrated the NATURAL mode for SDR viewing in a room with low ambient light.

  • Picture Mode: Natural
  • Color Temperature: 6742K
  • Average Color Tracking dE: 0.84
  • Average Grayscale dE: 3.52
  • Gamma: 2.11

Post-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale

The color temperature was already very close to our 6500K, so we left the COLOR TEMP at its default of 6500K. To produce good grayscale (RGB Balance), I reduced the BLUE GAIN and GREEN GAIN and I made a small adjustment to the GREEN OFFSET. This resulted in a color temp much closer to my target of 6500K.

We set the GAMMA SETTING to Custom and made some multipoint adjustments to achieve a flatter 2.2 gamma measurement.

While the LS12000 offers CMS adjustments, after adjusting the projector grayscale, the average color tracking dE was just 0.84 so there really isn’t a need to make any adjustments.

  • Picture Mode: Natural
  • Color Temperature: 6488K
  • Average Color Tracking dE: 0.84
  • Average Grayscale dE: .75
  • Gamma: 2.16

Delta E as a measure of grayscale/color accuracy of 3 and under is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye. Even before calibration, the LS12000 had an average Grayscale dE of around 3.5 which is good. After calibration, the projector’s average color dE was just .75, which is outstanding.

The picture from most projectors that utilize a blue laser phosphor light source is usually way too cool out of the box but the LS12000 was very close to my 6500K target.

You may have noticed that color tracking measurements in the pre and post-calibration images above look nearly identical. This is because, once the RGB balance was adjusted, the color tracking was outstanding with an average dE of just 0.84, so we didn’t feel the need to make a lot of CMS adjustments. We just increased the red, blue, and magenta color saturation slightly.

HDR Post-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale

Like SDR, the color reproduction and grayscale of the Natural mode when viewing HDR content was very good right out of the box. However, adjusting a quick adjustment to the BLUE GAIN produced a good RGB balance (Grayscale). The color tracking of DCI-P3 was excellent as well.

The LS12000 does not have Dynamic HDR tone mapping, however, there is an HDR button on the remote control. This is especially convenient for making quick on-the-fly adjustments to the HDR10/HDR10+ Setting menu to compensate for big swings in HDR scene brightness.

From the remote control, you also have access to the ten configurable picture setting memories. These memories can be used to store picture settings after calibration such as “SDR Bright”, “SDR Dark Room” and “HDR” mode.

While there was some improvement to the picture after calibration, the difference was not dramatic. The colors and skin tones looked great the instant I turned the unit on. I would be satisfied with the picture quality of the LS12000 whether it was calibrated or not.

BRIGHTNESS

The Pro Cinema LS12000 is rated for 2700 lumens and like most Epson projectors, in its brightest mode, the projector delivered close to the manufacturer’s claimed brightness.

We measured its brightest mode, DYNAMIC, at wide-angle – this is with the iris wide open, so the most amount of light gets through. We took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens.

Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 Brightness (wide zoom Dynamic mode): 2673 Lumens

The DYNAMIC mode measured 2,673 lumens in wide zoom while still delivering good out the box picture quality. We also measured the other preset picture modes with the Light Output set to 100%.

Brightness Per Picture Mode

Color ModeLumens (100% Light Output)Color Temperature
Dynamic26737561K
Vivid17899701K
Bright Cinema18977817K
Cinema18347627K
Natural18056742K

When the NATURAL picture mode which is the most accurate mode is selected, the Light Output is reduced to 75% however, the output can be increased to 100% when very little impact of color reproduction.

Switching the LS12000 lamp to ECO reduces audible noise and further increases laser life at the expense of light output. However, the image on a 100” screen was still bright enough for SDR viewing in a darken environment.

While many 4K capable DLP projectors at this price point can produce higher max brightness, their brightness advantage quickly disappears once those projectors are calibrated.

In addition, single-chip DLP projectors that have relatively low color light output (compared to its white light output) don’t often produce bright rich colors. However, the LS12000 can deliver an equal amount of color and white lumens. This ensures the bright colors of your favorite team’s uniform look vibrant and realistic.

BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL

In a dark environment, the ability to produce more contrast offers a massive benefit. The native contrast of the Pro Cinema LS12000 was well above average. When the Dynamic Contrast feature is engaged the LS12000 has rated Dynamic Contrast Ratio of was just 2,500,000:1.

While the black level was great, details in the dark areas of the screen were still visible. I would say the blacks and contrast are on par with Sony SXRD and JVC DILA models which are LCoS equipped projectors. There are very few single-chip DLP projectors that can match the native contrast of the LS12000.


In a room with higher ambient light, since our eyes are less sensitive to blacks, the contrast benefit is greatly reduced. In a bright room, higher brightness provides a higher perceived level of contrast. The Pro Cinema LS12000 rated brightness of 2700 lumens will make both SDR/HDR images pop in a family or game room.

SDR PICTURE QUALITY

Most TV shows and live broadcasts will be in HD for at least several more years so good 4K upscaling is still critically important. Due to Epson’s new ZX Processor, the projector did an excellent job upscaling. Whether I was watching 720P sports form ESPN or 1080p Blu-ray content, it looked very good.

Most 4K movies do not have enough fine detail to make the difference between watching 4K SDR and upscaled HD noticeable. You can even fine-tune the amount of detail displayed using one of the Image Preset modes or the Super resolution / Detail Enhancements settings.

The ZX processor combined with improved faster pixel shift results in better frame interpolation for smoother clear motion, this has real benefits when watching live sports. The LS12000 can produce 2,673 ANSI lumens which allow for daytime viewing of live sports or TV shows in a room with higher ambient light. Even though I have a 75” flat panel in my media room, choose to use LS12000 for daytime viewing on my 120” Screen Innovations Slate ALR screen.

While most Blu-ray UHD content is available in HDR10, a lot of 4K streaming material is still only 4K SDR. The LS12000 did a good job delivering a detailed 4K image. The LS12000 is equipped with Epson’s latest version of pixel-shifting (4K PRO UHD) so it does a very good job emulating the original 4K content.

If you did a side-by-side comparison with a native 4K projector, the resolution difference might be visible up close looking at 4K test patterns. However, it is doubtful it would be noticeable watching most movies, streaming or broadcast content, especially from a normal viewing distance.

HDR PICTURE QUALITY

With the introduction of the Apple 4K TV, the amount of HDR streaming movie content has increased dramatically. 4K HDR content can deliver expanded color space with better highlight and shadow detail, but even the brightest HDR projectors can struggle to faithfully reproduce HDR.

The Pro Cinema LS12000, like most HDR projectors, utilizes tone mapping which attempts to maintain bright highlight details and deliver decent full-screen brightness. The Pro Cinema LS12000 has adjustments so you can manually change the projector’s HDR tone mapping to fit your taste. Increasing HDR10/HDR10+ Setting makes bright highlights more visible at the expense of overall screen brightness.

For example, the images below are from the Meg which is a challenging movie to playback in HDR10. They show how increasing HDR10/HDR10+ Setting from 8 to 13 reduces the number of clipped highlights making the clouds in the sky more visible.

While the LS12000 doesn’t have the ability to dynamically tone map HDR10+, for most HDR10 content, I choose an HDR10/HDR10+ Setting of 9 because it offered the best balance of highlight detail and screen brightness on the 100” matte white screen in my lab.

The Epson LS12000 can reproduce 87% of DCI-P3. While some home theater projectors equipped with color filters can reproduce a wider color gamut, colors still look rich and vibrant.

Engaging a color filter on a projector can reduce the unit’s overall brightness by 25% to 30%. When viewing HDR, I think the benefits of higher brightness out weights the advantages of a wider color gamut reproduction, so I normally do not utilize the color filter anyway.

Since the Pro Cinema LS12000 is a 3LCD projector, unlike most single-chip projectors, it can reproduce an equal amount of color lumens as white lumens which results in higher color volume which is also beneficial when viewing HDR.

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