Sony VPL-VW295ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality 1

November 21, 2018 / By Art Feierman

Sony VPL-VW295ES 4K Home Theater Projector Review – Picture Quality: Out of the Box Color, Skin Tons, Black Levels

Out-of-the-Box Picture Quality


Folks, I almost decided to quit this section after just that first word.  I’ve seen other Sonys look pretty great out of the box, and some of Epson’s better models also have impressive color, but I’ll give Sony the edge.  The most surprising thing is not so much how good this Sony does without adjustment, but why so many projector manufacturers lack any modes with close to “on the money” color accuracy.   You would think most would have this down, after many generations of projectors.  Sadly, that’s not the case, which means if you don’t put in extra effort, or throw some money at many other projectors, they just won’t have great color or a great picture.

This Sony has both.

Skin Tones

Perhaps the most impressive thing about skin tone performance, is how good all the non-calibrated modes look.  This goes back to reinforcing my claims about great “out of the box” performance.  Check out these images.  Only two, Cinema Film 1, and Reference, are calibrated for non-4K content.  Cinema Film 2 we set up for 4K with HDR, so, technically it’s calibrated, but not for the 1080i Victoria Secret Swim Suit special.  That’s OK – look at all the others.  And, I should note, that all those other modes’ pictures were taken before Eric even got a chance to play with and calibrate the VW295ES!

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Black Level Performance

If you want truly great black level performance in a native 4K projector, that’s not this VW295ES, but it does an impressive job.  It’s just not as good as the dynamic iris equipped VW695ES the step up model.  In my dedicated home theater which I can get extremely dark (just a few led lights on electronics), I definitely wish for deeper blacks on dark scenes, but the VW295ES does very well without that iris. It should hold its own with anything around or under its price, except for JVC’s 1080p pixel shifter, and Epson’s 5040UB and 6040UB.

I’m perhaps the long time projector reviewer out there best known for caring and demanding better black level performance.  Even so: “I could live with the VW295ES in a dark home theater!”

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If you don’t have that near pitch black man cave, and instead have a media room or family room, den, or living room with good lighting control, this Sony is even more in its element. With less than a really, really dark room (preferably with very dark ceiling, walls and floors – like mine), the Sony is even better, in that even a little controlled ambient light will significantly limit the advantages of a projector with deeper black level performance.

One more point, re black levels.  I believe Projector Reviews has only reviewed one 4K capable DLP projector (out of more than a dozen) that has black levels that overall are close to this Sony. That would be the Acer VL7860 (image in the player). Most have relatively poor black levels – just “entry level” like sub $1000 projectors.  The exception is the Acer laser, the VL7860.  How does it do well what all the other DLPs (so far) fail at, you ask?  Easy, they are the only folks to have a dynamic iris functionality.  No, there is no iris, but the Acer uses its laser light engine to emulate a dynamic iris.  A laser is fast enough, a lamp is not!

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