Sony VPL-GTZ380 4K SXRD Projector - Performance

November 30, 2021

/ By Projector Reviews Staff

COLOR REPRODUCTION

Like all Sony home theater projectors, the GTZ380 delivered an accurate color right out of the box. The REFERENCE and USER picture presets were less than a hundred degrees off my calibrated white balance target of 6500K. I suspect due to the GTZ380 target customers and high price point Sony takes a little extra time to fine-tune each unit at the factory during production.

Even in its most accurate picture modes, the GTZ380 produced a massive amount of light. To combat higher ambient light, you can switch to BRIGHT TV or BRIGHT CINEMA. These picture modes are slightly oversaturated with a cooler color temperature, but they make colors look more vibrant in a bright space.

Like other Sony home theater projectors, I would be satisfied with the picture quality of the GTZ380 whether it was calibrated or not. However, I took the time to calibrate the projector's USER 2 Mode.

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 set up.

To test the projector's color accuracy we use Portrait Displays Calman color calibration software.

Pre-Calibration Color Sweep and Grayscale

The GTZ380 grayscale was also great out of the box. When measured, the color temperature was a few hundred degrees off to my target of 6500K.

Color Tracking before adjustment was also outstanding with an average Color Delta E of just 1.13. Most projectors struggle to deliver that level of accuracy even after calibration

  • Picture Mode: User
  • Color Temperature: 6188K
  • Average Grayscale dE: 4.8
  • Average Color dE: 1.13

 

Post-Calibration Color Sweep and Grayscale

I left the COLOR TEMP set to D65 and made some quick adjustments to the 2-point RGB balance to produce an outstanding D65 white balance.

To achieve my gamma target of 2.2 in my room, I set the GAMMA CORRECTION to 2.4. The GTZ380 has CMS adjustments available, but the color tracking was excellent so you really don't need to use them. However, I did make a few minor tweaks to Blue, Red, and Cyan

  • Picture Mode: User
  • Color Temperature: 6525K
  • Average Grayscale dE: 0.92
  • Average Color dE: 0.69

 

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 GTZ380 had an average Color dE of around 1.13 which is amazing.

Due to its high brightness capability, when calibrating the projector for SDR viewing in a dark space, I reduced the LAMP POWER setting to 30 to achieve about 120 nits (cd/m2) of onscreen brightness. For viewing SDR in a room with ambient light I increased the LAMP POWER to 60 with minimal impact on color accuracy.

After calibration, the GTZ380 had an average color dE of .069 which is outstanding. Like most Sony Home Theater projectors, once white balance and color are accurately adjusted for SDR, they will look great for HDR as well.

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. Unlike many laser-equipped home theaters, I didn't feel the need to fiddle with the unit’s picture adjustments. As I mentioned earlier, I would be satisfied with the picture quality of the GTZ380 whether it was calibrated or not.

Would I still pay to have the GTZ380 professionally calibrated? Of course, if you have already spent $80K on a projector, it would be silly not to spend a few hundred dollars more to fully optimize the unit's image for your particular screen and room.

BRIGHTNESS

The Sony GTZ380 has a rated brightness of 10,000 ANSI lumens making it the brightest 4K home theater projector that I have ever tested in my lab.

In a room with ambient light, I left the unit laser power at its default of 80% and delivered 446 cd/m2 (nits) brightness. Unless you are viewing SDR on an absolutely massive screen, the GTZ380 brightness capability is overkill. For example, when viewing SDR in a dark space on my 0.8 gain Elite Pro A/V 133" ALR screen, I reduced the GTZ380's laser power to just 30%.

I set the projector to REFERENCE mode (the brightest mode) and I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens.

Sony GTZ380 Brightness (Reference mode, Lamp Control High): 9471 Lumens

At wide zoom, REFERENCE mode, the GTZ380 measured 9471 lumens which is close to Sony's rated brightness of 10,000 lumens. You will find the GTZ380 more than bright enough for viewing SDR content on even a 300" screen. The ability to produce a huge amount of brightness on a 150" screen makes viewing HDR content in a dark room a jaw-dropping experience.

Picture Mode Brightness (default laser power settings)

Color Mode Lumens Color Temperature
Cinema Film 1 9223 6282K
Cinema Film 2 9108 6247K
Cinema Digital 9178 6123K
Reference 9471 6227K
TV 8097 7008K
Photo 8923 5325K
Game 9469 6243K
Bright Cinema 9257 6226K
Bright TV 8022 7057K
User 1-3 9223 6188K
User 1 (calibrated) 8393 6525K

After calibration, the GTZ380 still produces nearly 8400 lumens. This is a truly outstanding brightness. When calibrating many other projectors, you would have to sacrifice half of the projector's rated brightness to produce an accurate image.

Since the unit's Z-Phosphor laser light source includes a red laser diode along with two different wavelength blue laser diodes, the VPL-GTZ380 can reproduce 100% DCI-P3 color gamut without the need for a color filter which would reduce its brightness output.

Most home theater projectors would have to rely on a color filter to achieve the full DCI-P3 color gamut. For example, the VW5000ES has a rated brightness of 5000 ANSI lumens but you lose a lot of that brightness when the white balance and color gamut are set to D65 and DCI-P3.

Therefore, it would take at least three VW5000ES projectors to deliver the same 10,000 lumens of brightness that is produced by one GTZ380 when reproducing DCI-P3 color.

Also when viewing HDR content, the Dynamic HDR Contrast feature did an excellent job maximizing the brightness on the screen. The GTZ380 produced a brighter, more vibrant HDR image than any projector that I have ever seen or reviewed.

BTW, if you are lucky enough to be able to afford an insanely bright projector like the GTZ380 for your home theater, you will never have to worry about an overbright HDR image. Since each pixel in HDR content is assigned a specific brightness if a pixel is accurately reproduced it will have the same brightness on a 10,000 nit projector or a 1,000 nit projector. The difference is the GTZ380 can reproduce more of those pixels accurately before it has to start relying on tone mapping.

BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL

While brightness is important, deep, accurate black levels separate a good home theater from a great one. If you compare two projectors with identical brightness, the one that can produce deeper blacks will deliver a higher perceived contrast.

One of the main reasons to buy a higher-end home theater projector like the GTZ380, is much better black levels, resulting in higher contrast. The GTZ380 utilizes Sony's newly developed 0.74" Native 4K SXRD panels to deal with the projector's enormous brightness capabilities, which results in a native contrast ratio of 16,000:1.

While I have reviewed several good DLP projectors, none could ever match the black levels and native contrast of a 3 Chip SXRD projector like the Sony GTZ380.

Combining the high native contrast of the SXRD panels with the precisely modulated laser light output and a dynamic iris resulted in nearly infinite contrast and outstanding black levels.

I did most of my viewing with the DYNAMIC CONTROL set to Limited, which engages laser dimming as well as the dynamic iris. Not only were the blacks nice and deep, but subtle details in the shadows were also clearly visible.

The GTZ380 delivered some of the best black levels that I have experienced in my viewing room. The GTZ380 rated brightness of 10,000 lumens combined with a great black level made images pop, especially in a room with some ambient light.

PICTURE QUALITY

Due to its native 4K SXRD panels combined with its ARC-F lens, the GTZ380 had no problem delivering sharp, detailed 4K imagery. Most TV shows and live broadcasts are still produced in HD, so good 4K upscaling is still critical. Because Sony has over a decade of experience when it comes to 4K upscaling, the GTZ380 does an excellent job.

Although 4K HDR content can deliver expanded color space with better highlight and shadow detail, most HDR projectors can struggle to reproduce HDR faithfully.

The X1 Ultimate Processor combined with the new Dynamic HDR Enhancer improves HDR reproduction on the GTZ380. This feature utilizes frame-by-frame HDR tone mapping to deliver respectable full-screen brightness while still displaying a large amount of highlight detail.

Even though all Sony's latest 4K Home Theater projectors utilize frame-by-frame tone mapping, brighter highlights might be clipped occasionally. Sony believes this is necessary to keep most of the image on the screen as close to the director's intent as possible.

As the brightness and contrast of home theater projectors increases, more of the clipped highlight information can be restored without making the HDR image look flat.

The X1 Ultimate Processor in a 10,000 lumen Sony GTZ380 will clip fewer bright highlight details than the X1 processor found in the 2,000 lumen VW915ES. In fact, the GTZ380 is nearly bright enough to reproduce HDR content mastered at 1,000 nits on a 100-inch screen with zero tone mapping.

On my 120” Screen Innovation Slate Screen (1.2 gain), the onscreen brightness should easily exceed 800-900 nits (cd/m2), which is brighter than many HDR OLED flat-panel TVs.

The GTZ380, like all Sony 4K Home Theater projectors, also has an "HDR Reference Mode" located under the HDR menu option. When engaged, the GTZ380 will faithfully track the luminance of HDR content (no tone mapping) until the projector hard clips just like an HDR mastering display. This mode works well on content mastered at 1000 nits or below, but content mastered above 1000 nits will have a few more clipped highlights.

Colors look more saturated when they are brighter. Unlike most home theater projectors, the GTZ380 can reproduce 100% of DCI-P3 color space at full brightness. High brightness combined with a wide color gamut results in larger color volume. As a result, the HDR colors appear rich and vibrant similar to what you would see on a professional HDR Mastering display.

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