Sony VPL-FHZ55 Projector Review - Image Quality

February 4, 2014

/ By Projector Reviews Staff

Color and Picture Quality

As we’ve come to expect from Sony projectors, the VPL-FHZ55 displayed a sharp, clear image with rich, well-saturated colors.  Reds were deep, but not dark and greens were not noticeably oversaturated.  Colors are very good with any video connection, but using a high definition source over HDMI really adds pop to the displayed image.  Unlike many projectors, the VPL-FHZ55’s colors are quite good in Presentation (the brightest) mode.  There is a bit of the greenish tint that is usual at the brightest setting of most projectors, but colors still appear correct, without the darkness in the reds and mustardy yellows we’ve noted in some of the competition.  This means you can usually make full use of the projector’s lumen output with many presentations that don’t require perfect color, without the result looking unnatural.  However, if you need the best possible color and can accept the accompanying 33% drop in lumen output, dropping down to Dynamic or Standard mode (there is very little difference between the two) will give you the best possible picture with the most accurate colors.  You’ll also get better contrast contributing to greater image depth. As a result of the very good color rendition, photographic images were crisp, with well-saturated colors and natural skin tones.  Due to the high resolution, small details were well defined as well.  Various nature photos viewed looked quite natural, without any particular color oversaturation or deficiency.

Dynamic mode
Standard mode
Presentation mode
Presentation mode with Graphic 1 gamma
Dynamic mode
Standard mode
Presentation mode
Presentation mode with Graphic 1 gamma

Readability

Since the VPL-FHZ55 is a high resolution (1920 x 1200) projector, small (8 pt.) text was sharp and easily readable even on an 80” diagonal projected image.  This was true of white text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds as well.  Convergence was very good for a 3LCD projector, which can sometimes be subject to slight misalignment, resulting in an image that is more smooth than sharp.  However, the VPL-FHZ55 provided a nice, sharp image with all sorts of source material.  Switching from HDMI to an analog input did not noticeably affect image sharpness.  As it’s unlikely that a source component will be at a higher resolution than the VPL-FHZ55’s native resolution, there should be no problem with readability on any presentation. Switching to non-native resolutions, UXGA (1600 x 1200) and XGA (1024 x 768), to test the FHZ55’s video processing, there was no drop-off in image quality.  Of course, most projectors don’t have a problem with resolutions that are lower than their native resolution, so this was hardly a surprise.  However, there was no color fringing of any sort on even the smallest text. As is the case with most multimedia projectors, there is a movable electronic zoom that allows the user to zoom in on a particular section of the screen.  This can be very handy for pointing out details in photos or charts.  You can also freeze the displayed image via a button on the remote.

Native WUXGA resolution (1920x1200)
1600X1200 resolution

Video Quality

Due to the high resolution of the VPL-FHZ55, viewing video from a Blu-ray source was quite satisfying.  As was the case when we reviewed the Sony VPL-FH30, Presentation mode (and the different gamma settings available) is only available with a computer input.  So, if you need to display videos in a room with a fair amount of ambient light, you’ll have to do it from a computer feed.  Standard, or even Dynamic, modes provided the best overall picture quality for video presentations.  Additionally, the decent 8000:1 contrast ratio provided a picture that did not look washed out, as so many low contrast projectors do.  Also, it’s very good color depth and brightness made for more than adequate daytime viewing.  In this regard, many home theater projectors would not be able to compete with the VPL-FHZ55.  Its high brightness provides for a very enjoyable picture that is not washed out, as most home theater projectors would be.

Video presentations over an analog connection from a laptop were also quite good and had the secondary advantage of being able to use the brightest mode.

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