Upgrade Epson 3200 to 4400/RS40 or buy a Dalite Hi Power grey screen in white room?

waterox

Standard Member
Hi,

I just ordered an Epson 3200 (8100 in the States). It's the 1600 lumen 25000:1 model.

My room has wood floors and nearly white walls and ceiling, about 5m by 4m.
Windows are blacked out but I'm still seeing a very washed out image with poor black levels. I'm projecting from the back wall directly onto the front wall.
The cheap pull-down Optoma 1.0 gain screen I ordered with it seems to make no difference to image quality.

Basically I want to know how to improve the quality of my image.
Repainting all the walls and ceiling darker is not an option, though I will have a black curtain covering one side wall completely.

My first impulse was to upgrade to the Epson 8700UB (4400 in uk) for £2k or a JVC RS40 for £2.5k.

But I am reading lots of conflicting and overly generalized information about what to focus on. The place I bought the pj from are not exactly scientists!

Could anyone 'shed some light' (cough) on what would give the best results?

I'm thinking:
a.) spend another £1000 on a projector with better contrast and paint a sheet of mdf light grey, maybe adding movable or removable masking for different aspect ratios.

b.) keep the 3200 and spend up to £1000 on something like a Dalite Hi Power Grey screen. I dont care much about off-axis performance. I'm flexible with pj placement. Since the right wall will be black material maybe having the pj on the left would be a good idea? As close to the screen as possible or does that matter? It's more convenient at the back.

I may also paint the wall I'm projecting onto a dark grey colour in addition to the screen, whether DIY or purchased. Perhaps that would help perceived contrast and reflection.

Also, I'm using my macbook pro's mini displayport to an hdmi adapter if that has any significance on image quality.

Phew, a lot of information there. Hopefully some wise and experienced cinephile can offer me some advice!
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member

waterox

Standard Member
Phew, I'm 10 pages into that thread and people are only talking about blacking out the room with velvet.

That's cool, I could definitely look into that. I've already made acoustic broadband absorbers for a home recording studio so I kind of know what's involved with the DIY side.

But I'm hoping for some more info / recommendations on high contrast grey screens and pj's with better on / off contrast. (seems like ANSI is more dependent on the room reflections), and how much of a difference THAT makes. I may well be moving in the next year or two so hanging material with drawing pins may be more realistic as an additional measure.

I'm pretty sure that the 3200 on/off contrast is not spectacular in any room.
I know that because I can see the bulb is pretty bright when projecting black, from walvisions.com test screens in full screen browser mode.

I'm prepared to spend another £1k on either screen or pj upgrade. Which would make the most difference?
 
waterox, you raise a very interesting question here and I understand your frustration with that other thread, as it mainly discusses changes to the room.

Do you have any AV stores near you that can give demos of different screen types, maybe using your projector?

I'm not sure if anyone can say which of your two options would make the most difference. It depends on too many factors.

Painting the wall behind your screen sounds like a good idea. Is there any way you could rig up a test screen (big piece of paper, painted gray?) to see if a gray screen would improve things?
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
I know it's a long thread and seems to concentrate on the room, the trouble is that is where the big advances are gained.

A grey screen will help,painting an mdf sheet a light grey will show some improvement along with some black velvet masking will improve perceived contrast even more.The painting of the wall behind the screen will also help but painting the side walls or covering them with a temporary curtain of black velvet will also make a big difference.

The next issue is the ceiling which you probably do not want to touch but the 3-4 ft area in front of the screen will also make a good difference if treated with black velvet.The thing is all these measures on their own will make small individual differences but when added up make a much larger overall improvement.

The pj in itself will look much better in the end when you employ some or all of these improvements and of course do a re-calibration of the pj when this work is done.Of course the end result will also show the black level performance of the 3200 is not fantastic and you may well decide in the end a change of pj is required to get down to JVC levels of blacks.

You could also consider an ND2 filter in front of the lens this reduces light output by 50% and will make the blacks a bit better and is a low cost (£20 or so) removable option.

It is a bit of a never ending circle but worth it in the end.
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
When I moved into my current property 6 yrs ago I snaffled my current room to use as my office/home cinema as it was one of the reasons for buying the property.

The room came with cream walls white ceiling and a pinkish coloured carpet when I moved in and that is how it stayed till about 18 months ago. The only thing I did with the room from the outset was put up my DIY mdf screen painted grey which I was reasonably happy with as it was definitely better than a white screen in my light coloured room.

Approx 18 months ago I redecorated and the walls were finished in a matt plum colour with purple carpet and purple blackout curtains and the difference was very apparent as the HD20 is also not the best with blacks either.

The room is now pretty dark with curtains drawn even in the daytime but at night it gets even better and the black levels have improved considerably from when the walls were cream.I still have a big problem with the ceiling though and at some stage need to do something, the trouble is I can't make it too dark as I do use the room as an office and spend most days in there.

A few months back I was giving some advice to a fellow forumite regarding his garage conversion to a home cinema and he kindly made me a couple of 8" wide x 8ft long strips of Devore velvet covered mdf to use as a mask for the screen so I can put them on with 2.40:1 movies and all I can say is WOW that made a huge difference.For now instead of dark grey bars I now have inky black ones and this has really transformed my viewing.

The ceiling is still an issue but much less so now,I can probably live with it as it is for the next year or so at least.
 

johnm60

Active Member
waterox

It is hard to tell from your description if the washed-out look your are seeing is your room or your projector setup. Does the picture seem washed out on really dark scenes or does it appear washed out when you have mixed scenes with really bright areas and what should be dark areas? If it is the latter, then it is the reflectance of your room (walls, ceiling and floor). If it is the former, then it may be the setup of your macbook and projector.

Another useful thing to try is to see if the combination of your macbook and projector is setting the right black levels in the first place. For this you need some form of calibration disk or test patterns. I have used these AVS HD 709 - Blu-ray & MP4 Calibration - AVS Forum and they can either be downloaded as video files to run on macbook or cut as a blu-ray. There are too many patterns in there, but there are two specifically which are to set black level and contrast.

Unless the combination of the black level and contrast are right, you will not know home much changing the room or replacing the projector will achieve.

Worth a try
John
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
With my room as it is now I would see an improvement in black levels generated by a better pj so it would be worth moving up to a JVC HD350 but up till the redecoration it would have been a waste.

I have had a Sony HW15 in this room in the past before redecoration and did not see a huge difference between that pj and the HD20 as far as black levels are concerned.The Sony was a £2k projector and the same tech as the JVC so that's why I don't think swapping your pj for a more expensive pj will reap any rewards untill you tackle the room and screen issues.
 

waterox

Standard Member
waterox

It is hard to tell from your description if the washed-out look your are seeing is your room or your projector setup. Does the picture seem washed out on really dark scenes or does it appear washed out when you have mixed scenes with really bright areas and what should be dark areas? If it is the latter, then it is the reflectance of your room (walls, ceiling and floor). If it is the former, then it may be the setup of your macbook and projector.

Another useful thing to try is to see if the combination of your macbook and projector is setting the right black levels in the first place. For this you need some form of calibration disk or test patterns. I have used these AVS HD 709 - Blu-ray & MP4 Calibration - AVS Forum and they can either be downloaded as video files to run on macbook or cut as a blu-ray. There are too many patterns in there, but there are two specifically which are to set black level and contrast.

Unless the combination of the black level and contrast are right, you will not know home much changing the room or replacing the projector will achieve.

Worth a try
John


I would say both. Daylight scenes look very washed out and the entire room looks as if the lights are on.

But also projecting a test black screen from walvisions.com lights up the room as well. As I understand it the latter is on/off contrast and the former ANSI contrast.

I plan to buy an a1 sheet of light grey paper from an art shop and see how that looks.

It's also feasible to pin up some black velvet material on the ceiling in front of the screen. There is a definite glow happening up there at the moment.

I would also paint the wall dark grey and add movable bars, and put a dark rug on the varnished floor.

But what about these screens used in pubs etc, that have some colour depth even in full ambient light?
I will see if I can track down a demo of Dalite in London.

If reflected light can be controlled somewhat by the screen, surely that would help considerably. Some marketing claims those screens can be used with the lights on.

I have a couple of weeks before my 28 day returns window expires so need to decide fairly quickly. Projectorpoint only offers the Epson 4400 (8700UB) and JVC RS40 as alternatives. They dont do grey screens so I will be looking elsewhere.

I have read that dynamic range on the 4400 is much better, including on/off contrast. That feels very important for me for involvement in the film, literally dynamics and contrast from dark to light scenes.

So we've established that as much room treatment as possible is needed, and that can be done for not too much money. But I have a feeling I will still want an upgrade. I will post back after trying a grey paper screen.

Any thoughts on those directional hi power grey screens?
Really I'm asking a simple question, to which there may be no simple answers, but opinions are welcome :)
Given an imperfect room (with basic treatment) would a £1000 screen or £1000-£1500 more pj + DIY grey screen create a better viewing experience?
 

johnm60

Active Member
But also projecting a test black screen from walvisions.com lights up the room as well. As I understand it the latter is on/off contrast and the former ANSI contrast.

Not wishing to labour the point, but have you set the colour mode to cinema and tried sliding the brightness down just to really check that you are seeing the black level of the projector and not of the input signal?
 

waterox

Standard Member
Yes and yes. Eco mode, hdmi extended (normal crushes too much detail)

The brightness and contrast controls have surprisingly subtle effect.
I dont have a top end blu ray player to compare with, only the mbp.

I also found this thread
http://www.avforums.com/forums/proj...creens-dnp-supernova-black-diamond-etc-2.html
Some really impressive-looking results in ambient light, which means a non-batcave room would work too.

Those screens are around £4k at the size I want, around 2.3m wide.

@kbfern I noticed you posted on another thread that you think hardly anyone on these forums is investing money in those kind of hi contrast screens, so maybe I'm chasing ghosts!

Seems very difficult tracking down anywhere in London that even sells these let alone has a demo room but the search continues..

In the meantime if anyone can suggest a screen around £1k to £1.5k that would be most welcome!
 

Peter Parker

Distinguished Member
Two things can reduce the affects of reflections on a projected image in a white room. One is a grey screen - it bounces less light back because of it's lower gain (usually 0.8) so less light on the darker images on the screen which means less wash out, and the darker substrate helps define the darkest parts better than white. The other is adding more gain - it aims the light in a tighter 'cone' back at the seating area rather than at the walls, so less light bounces back from the walls onto the screen. A grey screen with gain is the best of both worlds and a direct comparison between a white screen and a grey screen of similar gain will yield a more watchable image.

I've not seen the Hi Power version, but if it's just a grey version of the usual Hi Power, it should work well. It's only 'drawback's' are that it's retro reflective, and that means to get the full gain, you have to have your eye line very close to the projected beam. If you don't need the full 2.4 gain, it might work very well sitting further away from the pj beam. The other drawback is that it's gain falls away quickly the further you sit away from the centre position. Even so, it's unlikely to fall below 0.8 for most people so you've lost nothing compared to getting a 0.8 gain screen.

Ideally though, you need to demo one to make sure it's right for you.

A room has an impact on a projectors ANSI contrast, but not it's on/off contrast, so some of the predominately dark scenes will still look very dark because there is little light to wash out the image. Brighter mixed images will have a more detrimental effect of course (the brights bounce back and wash out the darks), and then you have to decide if the amount of dark image movies warrant the higher cost of a higher on/off capable pj.

The other important thing you must do regardless, is set the brightness and contrast controls correctly (see my sig below - it's easy to do). It's amazing how detrimental an incorrectly set brightness control will have on the images black level and contrast. Get it wrong and you've thrown away all that contrast you've paid a lot of money for.

The cheapest screens are those you make yourself. You can use wood for the frame and stretch/staple some bought screen material over it (do a search in the screen forum). Not everyone is a DIY diva and the material is the most expensive component, but if you can get the material and are reasonably able, you can save a lot of money.

Gary
 
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KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I have had a Sony HW15 in this room in the past before redecoration and did not see a huge difference between that pj and the HD20 as far as black levels are concerned.The Sony was a £2k projector and the same tech as the JVC so that's why I don't think swapping your pj for a more expensive pj will reap any rewards untill you tackle the room and screen issues.

This is very good advice and it's also the reason I'm not bothered about upgrading my HD350 until I either buy a DNP/Black Diamond screen and/or create some much easier to use room tent. I had a home demo of my HD350 and a HD750 three years ago when my room wasn't as well treated and the HD750 looked scarcely any better (a £2K extra cost on top of the HD350 at the time).

Yes and yes. Eco mode, hdmi extended (normal crushes too much detail)

The brightness and contrast controls have surprisingly subtle effect.
I dont have a top end blu ray player to compare with, only the mbp.

I also found this thread
http://www.avforums.com/forums/proj...creens-dnp-supernova-black-diamond-etc-2.html
Some really impressive-looking results in ambient light, which means a non-batcave room would work too.

Those screens are around £4k at the size I want, around 2.3m wide.

@kbfern I noticed you posted on another thread that you think hardly anyone on these forums is investing money in those kind of hi contrast screens, so maybe I'm chasing ghosts!

Seems very difficult tracking down anywhere in London that even sells these let alone has a demo room but the search continues..

In the meantime if anyone can suggest a screen around £1k to £1.5k that would be most welcome!

Your comments about using the extended HDMI setting due to black crush concern me slightly as once calibrated to suit the expanded range (usually lowered brightness and raised contrast IIRC) then the shadow detail should be the same. I'd highly recommend you download the AVS HD709 disc (burnt to a DVD disc, but played in AVCHD format so equal to BluRay). There is a specific 'basic' calibration section that has flashing black bars. This is one of the best ways I've found to set/check the brightness level correctly before and after full calibration. If you can just see the 17 bar flashing then you've nailed it. ;) Another thing to try is to increase the gamma if possible. This will tend to make brighter scenes a bit more punchy looking, though higher gamma tends to work better in a bat cave, no harm in trying it.

I hope to look into the screens you mention at some point, but only after I've bought my 'mid life crisis' TVR sports car. :D I'll post my experiences of any demos I have on the contrast thread as I believe this type of screen may help in a non bat cave (though fully darkened out) room. Allan has made a special demo room for this type of screen with light coloured walls and I hope to travel up there some day to have a demo to compare what I get with a white screen and lots of black material. I figure it could be cheaper than my other option of making up electrically operated black velvet panels that drop and cover the ceiling when I want to watch a film. However, much of this depends on me regaining an interest in films as lately I can't find much that I want to watch on my PJ...it's all 3D and/or special effects and no decent story or acting (IMHO ;)).

EDIT: I also don't think a £1.5K screen will necessarily improve you image apart from being a smoother surface and flatter which I found when I got my similarly priced Beamax tab tensioned 2.35:1 screen. You might consider a simple high contrast screen 0.8 gain type, but I don't know if this will be bright enough in any reasonble size, so a catch 22 situation.
 
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Member 518284

Distinguished Member
I`ve always maintained that even if you spent a million trillion zillion on av equipment, pj included and put it in the wrong room it will never be right......

it can`t be as the room simply will not allow it.

when anyones comes here for a demo, and you ask them, I always talk about the room and how important it is, you must look at it as part of your av setup

I say this because it will be the one part of the system to have the greatest effect on what you see on the screen.

I know its not always possible to batcave your room as we have partners and wives that simply won`t allow it, well some of us get past it :devil:

so if thats a non starter then we have to start to look at screens which are designed to be used in a non light controlled/untreated for light reflection enviroment.

We all know what these are by now, black diamond and DNP.

If we/you are told we have to have a screen what rolls up out of the way then that unfortunatley narrows it down to one, DNP.

The many dozens of posts that I read about this subject is amazing and growing as more and more people are turning to projection systems at home, all of which will be affected by light reflection from the room itself.

its very widely talked about on AVF but rarely talked about at the point of sale, I wonder why? :lesson:

Kelvin

even a screen designed to"work" in a light-bright enviroment I doubt will produced as good blacks as what you are used to at home with the Kelvin Kreation :D

but you can achieve i`d say 90-95% with the proper screen material and a decent pj and still have a living room.

Also we need more light output from the pj`s themselves, this is being addressed by manufacturers which can only be better for the majority of home cinema pj users.

Keith

once again your advice is spot on, changing the pj for one costing twice as much is a waste of time as better results will be gained by choosing other methods of improvements.

Allan :smashin:
 
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waterox

Standard Member
Ok so after reading all of these comments and researching DNP & BD screens I've been considering dropping £2k on a DNP 2.4m screen.

Then I found this post:

I received some sample material today from the manufacturer of my current screen called cine-grey 0.8 gain just to compare with the supernova 0.8-85 material and tbh under the room conditions I will mainly use the PJ there wasn't a big enough difference to warrant the price difference in my opinion.

Normal PJ viewing conditions are white walls/ceiling, closed curtains with blackout blinds mainly viewing on the evening.

Granted the supernova material had the edge in every way but at triple the price I would expect it to

And if I opened the curtains the supernova material leapt ahead but the only time I'd use the PJ in the day would be to watch sport, but sport tends to be bright anyway so the image normally doesn't look too washed out.

I just want to say thanks for your help and input over the past couple of weeks but I think I've pretty much decided I'm going to buy the exact same screen I've got now except in the cine-grey material

Given that I will be only trying to control the reflections from walls and ceiling, and not from windows or spotlights I wonder if the DNP is the right solution.

I've been searching around for more info on Dalite and other cheaper alternatives but havent been able to find much so far..

Does something exist for up to £1k that would do enough to control wall & ceiling reflections but doesnt claim to offer the same performance in daylight?
Seems I could avoid paying a premium for a feature I'm not going to use.
 

Member 518284

Distinguished Member
if you are wanting to control reflected light back from the screen, and this is the light that washes your image out in a light decored room btw.

then you have to purchase material that has been designed to do exactly that

as the other poster has said, the DNP had the edge in every way, its up to you, but if you want to achieve good results in a lightly decored room you have bite the bullet and go for it.

its unfortunate that you are in this situation, but join the club as there are 1000`s more of you all in the same boat. :(

if you find another make of screen that does what DNP do then please let me know first and i`ll start selling `em :D
 

waterox

Standard Member
Just done a test with mdf board as a screen. Its natural mdf colour is quite a bit darker than the wall and that improves the blacks a great deal. I didnt feel like the lighter tones weren't bright enough either so that's a definite improvement.

It looks like the ceiling above is still the worst offender for reflectivity so I'm going to try pinning up some black velvet material there.

Here's the thing though, I'm still seeing a black test screen projected as far too light, even on mdf board.
on/off contrast doesnt look great even with a significantly darker screen. The opening scenes of Tron Legacy for example are fairly dark, almost black in places but the dynamic range just doesnt appear to be there from the 3200.

I'm beginning to lean towards trying the 4400 upgrade and doing some incremental improvements to the room, painting up a darker screen, maybe upgrading to a better screen later. I also had a noisy auto iris on my 3200 and Epson say that affects maybe 1 in 1000 units. Maybe I will be lucky with the 4400.

Once I settle on the pj I will be stuck with it and its going to depreciate like crazy so I'm thinking better to get the best I can there and have a bit more breathing space to make other improvements.
 

Peter Parker

Distinguished Member
Have you set the brightness control correctly using a test disk? Another 'usual suspect' for poor blacks is a too bright pj for the screen size.. If that's the case, an ND filter can help, but if you prefer very bright images then it will dull the entire image so may not work for you. If you prefer cinema levels of reflectance, then it might be worth a look. Or if your pj has a manual iris, you can step it down.

Gary
 

waterox

Standard Member
Just thought I would mention that the JVC RS40 / X3 was starting to look very attractive for an extra £500 over the Epson 4400 / 8700UB.

However, I remember it put out a lot of heat in the demo room and that might not be good for summertime. Also, there seem to be lots of issues with bulbs dimming quite fast on those, and they are £300 to replace, compared to £200 for the Epson, which has a 3 year guarantee up to 2000 hours use. I dont want to be worrying about how many hours I'm clocking up!

I do want amazing black levels (on / off) so really hope the auto iris is quiet.
By all accounts the RS40 is in a different league, though I'm thinking if I get the 4400 and spend up to £500 on a screen I may be happier overall. The 3200 / 8100 is going back with the Optoma screen to Projectorpoint today..
 

waterox

Standard Member
I just got the 4400 / 8700UB from projectorpoint. Some minor hassles with DHL returns but overall they were very good.
This projector is in a different league with both on / off and ANSI contrast, even in my imperfect room setup. It's not a subtle difference either.

I tried the interpolation and didnt like it, it makes things appear to be moving in slow-motion.
Luckily, as I had hoped, the auto iris on this one is near silent.

I liked the bulb life, lower heat emission and guarantee over the JVC.

Now I can think about how to improve the picture with screen, masking and velvet on the back wall & ceiling.
Really happy I spent the extra £1000.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
So, you asked advice, ignored it and have the audacity to come back and tell us you're happy.


...good for you. :D Probably still worth doing a bit with your room if you can, but that's just gravy as they say.
 

waterox

Standard Member
Yeah, I listened to the advice, did more research and then ignored it haha.

That's been my experience on forums generally, everybody has their own agenda and system of values. Probably people are too complex for a 'this is better than that, but only if you do this' answer.

I definitely intend to improve the room, and in the meantime I can still enjoy a pretty good cinema experience.

Out of interest, there doesnt seem to be much love for screens around £500 on this forum, but avscience they get mentioned a lot more. Any idea why that would be?
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Don't know really...maybe in the US a £500 screen is just a bigger cheap one and over here they fall between being as cheapy screen and a dearer tab tensioned one. Unless you're talking about information you've read in the under $3,000 projectors section as I've always found that sub forum seems more bothered with price over quality.

It's my subjective opinion, but I think that you can either buy a real cheap screen and except that it will wrinkle and curl, but just buy another when it does. Or you shell out significantly more on a tab tensioned screen which should last much longer (mine has). I really don't know if the dearer screens' surface is any better, though you would hope so. One thing when I went from a cheaper screen (Greywolf II) was that apart from the curling, there was a texture on the surface that you could 'see' especially during pans. Once I got the Beamax the screen just disappeared and you get the impression that the image is just floating there in space...hard to explain, but once you've seen it I notice the surface on any demo screens I've seen elsewhere if they aren't as good. Mine isn't even a 'high end' screen as you can spend £5,000 on a screen the same size as mine (112" wide 2.35:1) if it's something like a Black Diamond, but at least it's supposed to help with a less than ideal room, something I'd like to demo sometime to find out.
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
In the states the DIY screens seem to be more popular than over here, lets face it for £40 approx you can have a ripple/wrinkle edge curl free screen with basic DIY skills that is as good as most £500 screens.
 

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