A problem I have with my Optoma UHZ65 Projector

DecibelGuy

Novice Member
Hello there. I guess I am finally putting my AV Forums account to use after five years of membership. :)

This thread is about a problem I ran into with my Optoma UHZ65. I am aware there are likely other (official?) threads dedicated to this projector but I felt I would be better served having my own thread for this. If the mods feel this should be merged with an existing thread, please go ahead.

Firstly, I have had my UHZ65 since April of this year. It replaced the UHD60 which was originally installed last September. Long story short, I loved the previous projector but ran into problems with flickering. It went in for repairs, got sent overseas. It was replaced twice by identical models. Unfortunately the problem kept coming back after 40 or so hours of use each time. Thankfully, the brick-and-mortar store that sold me the projector has admirable customer service and at no point did they dismiss my complaints, even when Optoma themselves seemed to be non-committal. Even after 7 months or so, they offered me a full refund. Instead I opted to upgrade to the UHZ65 reasoning that the laser light engine will not result in the same unsatisfactory performance that plagued the UHD60. I paid the difference and the store owner was gracious in giving me a not insignificant discount.

As expected, the flickering has not reared its ugly head on the UHZ65, and I am extremely happy. While I cannot compare this projector to other models from competing manufacturers I can only say that the images it produces frequently leave me breathless. Even if objectively it may produce an inferior image to my THX-Certified Panasonic Viera plasma TV from 2012 (i.e. colour reproduction, contrast, black levels, etc.), in reality it is simply no contest between the two on a 120” screen.

However, yesterday I discovered a less-then-pleasing aspect in the unit’s picture quality. It can be rectified by tweaking certain settings, but that approach comes at the cost of other things. I am unsure of what to do. I hope you guys can help. :(

So, those of you familiar with this projector will know that it has a “Dynamic Black” setting. It comes in three gradations. I think the lowest one is the best – the others are too aggressive. I have long thought that all this setting does is regulate the projector’s light output so that darker movie scenes appear less washed out. In that respect it works very well! When I inserted my (old!) blu-ray of Master & Commander (a rather dark movie) the Dynamic Black setting greatly improved the dark scenes. However, I now realise that Dynamic Black processes the image not just by changing the brightness of the lamp or laser source, but also on a digital level, by seemingly tweaking contrast among other things.

During movies I sometimes notice shots that look a little flat or off. I normally come to the conclusion that it is the Dynamic Black mode making a perhaps less-than-perfect decision in the way it handles the image at that given moment. As the shot changes it’ll look fine again. I was aware of this and realised it was a trade-off, but it didn’t bother me too much, because it wasn’t something that happened too often, and in any case it didn’t look to be destroying the image.

Yesterday I was watching “White Snake” on blu-ray – a CG-animated Chinese film released by GKids and Shout Factory. Generally speaking the movie looked marvellous (some banding and occasional hiccups with the framerate notwithstanding.) After watching I went back to a scene which I remembered had a funny-looking shot which looked overly dim compared to the ones that immediately preceded and followed it. I could imagine why. It was not particularly bright, but one of the characters was being dragged amidst a strong glow of magic sparkles contrasted against a somewhat dark background. It looked “wrong” because the magic sparkles looked rather dull. I figured the projector was reasoning that in order to ensure the background remained dark enough it skewed the overall brightness down with consequence that the bright elements within the scene took a toll in this regard.

Again, I stress that I wasn’t particularly worried. I understood that this is simply the way the processing works. Out of curiosity, however, and to ensure that my reasoning was correct, I paused the film, and switched off Dynamic Black, opting for 80% brightness instead.

I was shocked.

The image didn’t get much brighter. What definitely changed was the magic sparkles themselves. Whereas with Dynamic Black mode activated they looked more like one large glowing object, once it was switched off the colours in that particular part of the image changed and I could suddenly see all sorts of details which had been completely obliterated by the Dynamic Black processing. It really was night and day. I also discovered another similarly problematic shot.

However, I seemed to recognise this undesirable effect as one which plagues an image (be it projector or TV) when the contrast is set too high. Certain details were getting completely blown out! So I switched Dynamic Black back on and went into my contrast settings hoping to rectify the problem this way. I started reducing contrast ... and I guess it worked. The only caveat is that for it to work I had to set the contrast to “-50”! I can’t watch a movie with the contrast at “-50!”

Which leaves me in a conundrum. Do I keep my current settings – which I really like – but which can result in some significantly altered shots? Or do I do away with Dynamic Black, solving this problem, but with the consequence of milky blacks and a somewhat less-punchy image?

The problem is I’m not sure I can live without the enhanced blacks courtesy of the Dynamic Black setting.

To make matters worse, I am OCD. By that I do not mean that I have some tendency to obsess, but that I am clinically diagnosed with the condition (and I hate it!)

I am 31 years old now. I have dreamt of having my own home theatre since I was a kid, and I finally have it (after many years of obsessing and abstaining from watching certain movies just so I can enjoy them when I have the correct setup.) Since getting my UHD60 in September I have always been obsessing and fretting about anything wrong I may see in the image (especially considering the expenses involved ... not just of the projector but of the entire home theatre room.) Besides that I’ve been fretting and obsessing about everything else since childhood. Now with the UHZ65 I was finally just about to relax and actually start enjoying my movies the way I imagine normal people do.

However, this has put a spanner in the works. If I opt to keep Dynamic Black mode switched on I will notice every time I see a wonky shot (I can recognise them now) and even if there is nothing egregiously wrong with it there will always be a voice at the back of my mind telling me to the pause the movie and check. Also, the thought that the image may be skewed badly – even when I am not aware of it – is troubling. On the other hand if I switch off Dynamic Black I will always be reminded of this in every dark (or even modestly lit) scene, as well as the lack of visceral visual punch I get that way.

I do not expect you guys here to be my psychologists, but I would sure appreciate if you would help me sort this out. :)

If you would believe it, my greatest wish is to not care at all. I wish that I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass that the image detail is getting blown out with DB switched on and just enjoy what I’m seeing the same as if I never discovered the issue at all. 😣 Quite often I wish I wasn’t into hi-tech stuff at all, and could get into and appreciate my movies without anxiety or worry.

To conclude, I must stress that this issue with the Dynamic Black does not seem to affect an entire given film’s runtime. It happens (obviously, at least) in specific shots, and I think its frequency will depend on the film itself and how it was shot and lit.

For perspective, I recently watched the following content on my UHZ65 with Dynamic Black switched on:

Kimagure Orange Road (TV Series, OVAs, Theatrical Film) – Discotek Media blu-ray set: No issues to report. The hand-drawn animation on 16mm and 35mm film was reproduced beautifully. I don't recall dim-looking flat shots in this.

Apollo 13 4K UHD – Universal: This was about a month and a half ago so it is not entirely fresh in my mind. If there were any wonky shots they were few and far between or I didn’t notice them. The only flaw I noted her was what looked like posterisation in a scene containing a floodlight in a night sky. However, I expect this is a shortcoming of the projector’s HDR processing and something that is to be expected as a projector cannot do HDR like a TV. So I’m not losing any sleep over that.

Apollo 11 – Dogwoof: Excellent through and through.

Jurassic Park – Universal (2011 blu-ray release): No problems to report here either. There was only one shot that looked suspect, in the first act of the film when Dr. Grant and company set eyes on the dinosaurs for the first time. In the shot with the huge herbivorous dinosaur (forgive me, I can’t recall the scientific name for it!) the sky looked blue, but very, very pale. At that point I wondered if that was the Dynamic Black’s doing. However, in light of my OCD perhaps it is not a good idea to go back and do a compare and contrast the way I did with White Snake for fear of increasing my anxiety.

Nothing But the Truth - Signature: The film on this disc is cropped from scope ratio to 16:9 (🙄) and there is a problem with the audio wherein the rear right channel of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is dead for almost the entire film's runtime (of course this triggered anxiety. I thought something had gone horribly wrong with my setup), but that's another story for another time. Anyway, I watched this two weeks ago give or take and do not recall anything obviously wrong with the video (besides anything inherent to the actual transfer.)

So, seeing as the problem is not that widespread (at least I hope it isn’t, or that I won't now start noticing it far more often!) perhaps it would be worth retaining my current settings even at the cost of image integrity on certain shots? The thing is, when Dynamic Black works the way it should it produces a pretty stunning image.

By the way, if some of you are rolling their eyes at my descriptions of anxiety and thinking that I probably don’t have much problems and live an easy life if something as trivial as my home theatre setup is a “problem” for me, it’s not that. Both my family and I have been through some horrible, life-shattering experiences. Having experienced those I know there are far worse problems in life than your projector blowing out the details in the movies you watch. However, there is no real logic to OCD, and if you get anxiety about something, as irrational as it may be, you cannot easily erase it.

If you have made your way to the end of this overly-long post/confession, I salute you! Thank you for reading.



P.S. I’ll see if I can photograph these problematic shots using my smartphone camera. However, my phone is rather cheap and I’m not sure will be able to capture the issue well-enough. Oh, by the way, the Pure Engine settings on my projector are all disabled as is Brilliant Color. (The latter created some really weird anomalies on the previous UHD60 so I have not been tempted in any way to activate it on the UHZ65.)
 

DecibelGuy

Novice Member
Hello Stuart. :) That was prompt!

I did sometimes consider getting it calibrated (and the store wherein I bought it offers this service, I believe, as they have a staff member qualified in this field.) I think I hesitated because I was enjoying the projector on my own settings immensely, and also because I realise that video settings can be subjective, and what is perfect to an industry professional may not necessarily satisfy me, even if it is as intended. I don't know. Do you think a professional calibration would help? (In the depths of my heart I feel that such a calibration would require turning off Dynamic Black mode as it interferes with the integrity of the image.)

Yes, I did read that review months ago. I just skimmed through it again, but unless I missed it there seems to be no mention of Dynamic Black, so I am unsure if the AV Forums reviewers assessed its performance with DB switched on or off. I wonder ...
 

Stuart Gray

Active Member
Quote from review: -

Dynamic range is good with solid blacks that are a good depth of black for much of our viewing and only suffering the same issues with washout on tricky scenes. One obvious scene for this is the title sequence of Lost in Space where as the screen becomes a star field and as the text starts to appear the image gets brighter and washed out, as it becomes too difficult for the projector to manage with it’s limited blacks and above black performance. However it soon reverts to providing a decent dynamic range to the rest of the show, so it really is just the more difficult mixed scenes or movies where it will struggle in such an environment. Indeed switch it out to a more light coloured home cinema room with some ambient light or reflected light and the raised black floor of the room will really suit this projectors overall image performance.
 

DecibelGuy

Novice Member
Would it be correct to assume the reviewer was watching that content with Dynamic Black switched off?

Yesterday I decided to experiment with the brightness setting, comparing 60% to 100% brightness. It really differs between movies. The aforementioned "White Snake" looked healthy and dynamic at 60%, but Disney's Pocahontas blu-ray looked flat on the same setting. Bumping the projector up to full brightness solved this issue, though.

Do you guys have multiple settings on your TVs/projectors which you then swap between depending on the movie you intend to watch? Is that acceptable? I've always had one setting which I aim to be suitable for any film.

EDIT: Tried taking photographs yesterday but it was futile. My smartphone camera is not up to the task.
 

noob0101

Active Member
@DecibelGuy

Firstly the choice of either of those two projector is poor. If you wanted a projector with a good looking image you shouldn't have chosen Optoma. Those may be ok for some people, and may not have issues with bright content, but most content is dark, in general.

For the HDR tone mapping, since projectors can't reach the nits TVs can, the signal is tone mapped to what the projector can do. Each manufacturer has it's own standard. It's new and still being improved upon.

Dynamic black is a challange on lamps, not to mention lasers. Laser units are relatively new and probably will be a while before some aspects of laser dimming is fixed, but others can't be. Not going to go into that.
Laser dimming is said to work well with the RS4500, so it's not like it can't be done.

But there is no way to fix the laser dimming issue from your end. Calibration can't help here. It's Optoma's algorithm.

Lamp flicker is common, but personally I would have stuck with lamp models and managed the problem, which can be managed.

If you want to keep this one you'll have to use it without the DB.
 

DecibelGuy

Novice Member
Well, that's bad news. :( Pretty much all the reviews I read online for these two models were positive. Not necessarily raving, but positive. However, my choice was rather limited. I live in a small country (population est. 450,000) and the market here is small, so the few home theatre and hi-fi shops around will not stock numerous brands under one roof. This shop in particular only stocked Optoma projectors, and there are very few other similar establishments. I think the only other "major" store in my country stocks Vivitek projectors. No idea how those fare. They also have a top-of-the-range JVC model but that one would require me to sell my kidneys on the black market to purchase. And yes, I know there's the internet, but I have never purchased anything that expensive that needs to be posted to me, so I ruled that out.

Unfortunately I am now beyond the point where I can return the UHZ65. I've had it for four months, and unlike the UHD60 the projector is not malfunctioning in any way. So, I am stuck with it. But I believe I can enjoy this projector (I'd better ... after that almost year-long drama with my older one.)

So, seeing as I will be using this unit for many, many years, do you think it will help if I get it professionally calibrated - as Stuart Gray suggested - with dynamic black mode deactivated? I would be interested to know if owners of this projector think it yields a better image overall with DB switched off (even if darker scenes suffer.)

Re UHD60 vs UHZ65 I must say that the latter produces a clearly superior image to the lamp-based model. The difference is even more pronounced with HDR content. I found the UHD60 pretty iffy with HDR, even if many online really liked it. In fact I would turn it off and instruct my 4K UHD player to convert the images to SDR instead, which worked surprisingly well. With the UHZ65 I don't need to do that, and my 4K discs actually do look more striking than my SDR blu-rays (and not inferior!).

Btw, I am afraid the lamp flicker could not be managed on the UHD60. I tried everything. With the onset of time the flicker would only become more and more frequent (there is a YouTube video of a permanently flickering UHD60.) Furthermore most people complain of flicker after using their lamp-based projectors for 2000 hours or more. Mine would kick in after just 20 to 40 hours of use. I think the Optoma lamps are to blame.
 

noob0101

Active Member
Well, that's bad news. :( Pretty much all the reviews I read online for these two models were positive. Not necessarily raving, but positive. However, my choice was rather limited. I live in a small country (population est. 450,000) and the market here is small, so the few home theatre and hi-fi shops around will not stock numerous brands under one roof. This shop in particular only stocked Optoma projectors, and there are very few other similar establishments. I think the only other "major" store in my country stocks Vivitek projectors. No idea how those fare. They also have a top-of-the-range JVC model but that one would require me to sell my kidneys on the black market to purchase. And yes, I know there's the internet, but I have never purchased anything that expensive that needs to be posted to me, so I ruled that out.

Unfortunately I am now beyond the point where I can return the UHZ65. I've had it for four months, and unlike the UHD60 the projector is not malfunctioning in any way. So, I am stuck with it. But I believe I can enjoy this projector (I'd better ... after that almost year-long drama with my older one.)

So, seeing as I will be using this unit for many, many years, do you think it will help if I get it professionally calibrated - as Stuart Gray suggested - with dynamic black mode deactivated? I would be interested to know if owners of this projector think it yields a better image overall with DB switched off (even if darker scenes suffer.)

Re UHD60 vs UHZ65 I must say that the latter produces a clearly superior image to the lamp-based model. The difference is even more pronounced with HDR content. I found the UHD60 pretty iffy with HDR, even if many online really liked it. In fact I would turn it off and instruct my 4K UHD player to convert the images to SDR instead, which worked surprisingly well. With the UHZ65 I don't need to do that, and my 4K discs actually do look more striking than my SDR blu-rays (and not inferior!).

Btw, I am afraid the lamp flicker could not be managed on the UHD60. I tried everything. With the onset of time the flicker would only become more and more frequent (there is a YouTube video of a permanently flickering UHD60.) Furthermore most people complain of flicker after using their lamp-based projectors for 2000 hours or more. Mine would kick in after just 20 to 40 hours of use. I think the Optoma lamps are to blame.

The reviews say the UHZ65 has ok color out of the box, so I don't know if it's worth it. Depends on the cost and how much this cost is to you.

What I would do is get an ALR/grey screen to deepen the blacks. Or paint the wall/a white screen with a paint mix.

What color are the walls?
If they are light can the room be repainted?

Combine the link:

videos/1692721894385217/

Not going to go into flickering with lamps since you're staying with this one.
 

DecibelGuy

Novice Member
I see. My screen is white. The brand is Elite Screens and it is 120". I am not in a position to upgrade at the moment, but I guess that is always something I could look into in the future, right? I imagine installing a new screen wouldn't cause too much trouble as long as it is the same size. At most, if it is a different brand I may have to remove the L-brackets holding the screen, plaster and repaint, and then reapply others that are compatible with my new screen.

The walls are dark. Before I prepared the room a year ago I had them repainted. They are not black, as that is probably a bit much ... but almost. The ceiling tiles, however, are black, and the carpet is brown (neither dark nor light.) The room is light controlled.
 

noob0101

Active Member
I see. My screen is white. The brand is Elite Screens and it is 120". I am not in a position to upgrade at the moment, but I guess that is always something I could look into in the future, right? I imagine installing a new screen wouldn't cause too much trouble as long as it is the same size. At most, if it is a different brand I may have to remove the L-brackets holding the screen, plaster and repaint, and then reapply others that are compatible with my new screen.

The walls are dark. Before I prepared the room a year ago I had them repainted. They are not black, as that is probably a bit much ... but almost. The ceiling tiles, however, are black, and the carpet is brown (neither dark nor light.) The room is light controlled.

That room would have been great for a high contrast projector.

In this case I don't think an ALR/grey screen will help with blacks, only some custom paint mixes. They can be applied on the screen you already have.
 

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