new projector comments (mini-review)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Leo Kerr, Aug 6, 2002.

  1. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    As some of you may recall from an earlier post (yesh! three weeks ago?) I recently got a cute little Panasonic PT-LC75u XGA native resolution LCD projector.
    For those who aren't familiar with it, it's about 8"x12"x4", weighs just under seven pounds, and is Panasonic Silver in color. It accepts composite, Y/c, Y-Pr-Pb, and RGB signals, and outputs roughly 750 or 1200 ANSI Lumens. In low brightness mode, it is very quiet; in high brightness mode, it is louder; 2.5-3 dB if I remember the manual correctly.
    Practically, with the configuration I'm using, the difference between the 750 and the 1200 lumens is negligable - definitely not worth the estimated 1000 hours of lamp life it sacrifices (2000-3000 hours.) In my situation, it turns out that even 750 lumens is a bit bright!
    The full-on/off contrast is, as I recall, quoted to be near 400:1; people on the AVS forum say that the ANSI contrast is somewhere in the 200:1 - 250:1 range, depending on numerous variables. I haven't measured mine; I intend to - sometime. There are a lot of things I intend to do sometime, but unfortunately, there are a lot of other things that take precidence, and so instead of running tests and measurements, I've been running more movies, instead.
    In my configuration, I have a DIY gray-screen of a fairly loose weave 100% cotton fabric, stretched over a PVC pipe frame, with a useful size of 40"x60". Yes, I know that 1.5:1 is not anyone's aspect ratio! The advantage of this screen is that it is close enough to being acoustically transparent that any/all speakers behind it are relatively unaffected. The viewing distance I'm using is between 5-7 feet, and the projector is suspended from a DIY ceiling mount, made out of MDF, screw-eyes, over sized cup hooks, and nuts that allow me to trim the angle, balance, roll, pitch, and yaw. Okay, maybe not the yaw, but there's enough room for me to do that with the projector. Aside: I need to extend the hanging mechanism a couple inches so I can eliminate the use of the digital keystone correction.
    On the equipment side, I'm still using just a plain old Panasonic 110a player that is limited to interlaced S-video. Unlike many people with the 110 and 120 players, I've never had any of the bugs that plagued many of these early units. It does, however, support DD and DTS. Some day, maybe, I'll replace it. Not this week.
    First off, the projector is easy to set up. I'd prefer if some of the controls could be accessed without using the menu system, but for the most part, it's fine. The one difficulty I've had is for some reason, either the discs aren't mastered right, or the player isn't handling them right, but the projector doesn't always recognize the anamorphic signals. It, however, is easy enough to force into the 1.77:1 mode.
    As some people have noted on the AVSForum, the lamp is a little on the green side, and someday soon, I'll find my collection of color correction filters and try playing with the mild +magenta filters.
    Impressions
    Coming to 70" diagonal front projections from a decent grade 20" CRT has been an adventure. CRT blacks, I have come to realize, are incredible. CRT detail and sharpness, I have also come to realize, is pathetic.
    There are two significant problems I've identified with this projector. One is the fault of the projector. It's black level is too high, or it's contrast level is too low. Take your pick. In 'average picture,' however, the black level isn't a problem. In a relatively dark film, however, it's a little too bright.
    The second problem is that this sucker reveals mediochre transfers and MPEG and digital artifacts like mad. Edge enhancement, which I usually had to look for pretty carefully on the 20" CRT, now leaps off of those 2.35:1 Columbia Tristar titles. Old DVDs, like Ladyhawke are badly chewed up, between the D-2 master (composite) and the early MPEG-II encoder. Ye gods! I can't wait for a good transfer and recompression of this title! Better handled titles, however, look pretty good.
    Laserdiscs, I found, were interesting. They look soft and smooth - even just the MPEG coding adds a great deal of 'aparent sharpness.'
    A word of warning: the projector's sharpness control is set, by default, to 4 (on a scale of 0-16 or something like that.) At this setting, it is actually neutral. Going below four softens the picture - quite a lot.
    And an interesting note on the fan and the fan noise. In the 'low brightness' mode, the fan runs slower. Mostly. It appears that it can cycle the fan speed if it needs to. Even so, with the projector directly over my head, it takes a quiet scene without any ambient noise or music to be able to hear the fan.
    In short, I am pleased. It isn't perfect, no doubt. It is, however, quite decent. And in two or three years when it comes time for me to replace the lamp, I dare say that the projector world will have changed enough that I shall merely replace the projector, with something higher resolution, higher contrast, and probably cheaper than the $2230 (inc shipping) I paid for this one.
    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     
  2. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Neil Joseph
    Congratulations on the projector setup. I am curious about your cotton screen with PCV tube border? I will be in the market for a nice DIY screen soon. What kind of gain is it, or how would you know what the gain was for the screen?
     
  3. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    My understanding of 'screen gain' is somewhat vague. However, that being said, I'll estimate that my screen gain is in the neighborhood of...
    .6
    Actually, I have no clue what it actually is - the image is still moderately clear on the wall 30" behind the screen. I seem to be one of the few projector owners in the world who is actively trying to dump excess light. I've got aparently excellent control of ambient light spilling into the room, so...
    As for the screen itself, I'm using ¾" PVC tubing, with two 90° elbows and three T intersections. The top corners have T intersections, as does the top middle. Nylon string is threaded through the pipe, going in the center and looping out each corner (two seperate loops.) These loops are then hung from cup-hooks in the ceiling structure. (This is a multiple purpose space, and the PC monitor is directly behind where the screen hangs.) The fabric is taped on each side, and then rolled around the pipe for tensioning - the fabric is 44" wide, and I got two yards of it, so there's about 6" wrapped around the tubing on each side. Right now, the bottom edge is taped to apply just a little more tension to keep the ripples out of the screen. This is probably not my final plan for the screen, but for the month, it'll be fine. (We'll also see how much the cotton stretches. This stuff, about $2.50/yard, is 100% cotton. It really needed to be ironed...)
    I'm also debating hanging some black velvet or something behind the screen, but so far, I haven't really noticed the secondary image on the wall behind the screen.
    Additional comment on the projector
    The S-video signal being fed to the projector can carry the anamorphic identifing signal. The projector down-converts the image for the extraction to 4:3. This means there is no fundamental difference between feeding it a 4:3 picture from a DVD player or the 16:9 picture.
    However, at least WinDVD, when it does the anamorphic extraction, does so by stretching the horizontal image, preserving the vertical resolution. When in doubt, feed the projector with a computer!
    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     
  4. Mark Penname

    Mark Penname Extra

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    It is nice to see another 75U owner!
    I have had mine for about a month and a half and overall I am very pleased with it!
    For my screen I am using blackout cloth that I just stapled to the wall! It was only meant to be a test, but the image looked so good I didn't need to change it yet [​IMG].(Summer time! Won't be working on the HT again till the fall)
    The thing that made a big difference with the perceived black levels were to add a black border made out of felt over a Styrofoam.
    I also made a DIY ceiling mount.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Yeah, my biggest problems were
    a. lack of wall space,
    b. previous HT installation coaxial with home computer (both using 20" CRTs).
    Thus, I had to have a acoustically transparent screen, because depending on where you are, at least two speakers are behind the screen (center and either Left or Right.) Plus, I had to mount the screen in front of the computer, and I had to be able to dispose of the screen. My impression of the Grayhawk screen is that it is much too light for me; I could almost use a black screen.
    Mark, I remembered seeing your mount on the AVS forum, but couldn't find a ball-mount. Ah, well, I'm going to try and get some pictures and then scan them in... (no digital camera. Although, the projector does a good job of showing digital stills...)
    Leo
     
  6. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    Leo:
    When you get around to trying out color-correction filters, the first one you need to try is a FL-D.
    I put one of those on my (very modest) Philips SV20i LCD projector; and, after re-calibration with Avia, the black levels improved to the point that viewing dark scenes is now absolutely no longer a problem!
    Now, I don't mean to imply here that the black levels are anywhere near as good as a CRT-based system; but I can definitely state that I can now view dark scenes and dark movies with relative impunity. Without the filter, this native 300:1 contrast projector rendered black levels so poorly that certain films, such as the recent "re-imagined" Planet of the Apes movie, were actually "painful" to view on the system. This is now no longer the case.
    In fact, I was on the verge of "upgrading" to a DLP projector; but after trying out this $40 filter, I no longer feel the need!
     
  7. Rod Rebello

    Rod Rebello Auditioning

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    I 2nd the Hoya HMC FL-D filter - it made a significant improvement for my 75u. It eliminated the green cast and improved black levels. You should be able to get the multicoated version for $20-$25 ($23 for me with shipping). 55mm size for the 75u.
     
  8. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    I'm aware of the FL-D filter; I've also been tracking the threads on AVSForum about the +xCCM filter (where x ranges from 5-20) as being perhaps better than the FL-D.
    I'm biased toward going with the CCM filters, as they're considerably cheaper than an FL-D, so therefore makes a better starting point.
    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     

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