With HDNet’s high-definition programming, I maximized the light output of the HS51 by setting the projection lamp to its full-output position and shutting off the projector’s dynamic iris. I then adjusted the user controls to optimize contrast and brightness. Both controls had to be set higher than would normally be the case with a white or gray screen, particularly contrast, which looked best at an 80–90% setting, depending on the source. Fortunately, even though the contrast control was set unusually high, the whites were not crushed, providing fine detail in the lighter, sun-drenched portions of the movie I was watching.
With the projector’s user controls optimized for the ChromaVue screen in a darkened room, I gradually increased room lighting by raising my opaque window blinds in 25% increments while keeping my translucent curtains drawn. Finally, the blinds were wide open, and yet I was watching front projection in “subdued light” with deep blacks and excellent image contrast. I moved around the room and noticed some loss of contrast off-axis and across from the ambient light source (in this case, the picture window of my viewing room), as if the screen could not completely reject light bouncing off it at a shallow angle. (Note, though, that my curtained picture window is very large, extending above and below the screen, which Sony tells me is not an optimal situation for rejecting ambient light.) However, when I sat in front of (and not across from) the window, the image maintained its quality and snap. A good practical solution was to sit closer to screen center; when I stayed in the sweet spot—say anywhere within the width of a three-seat sofa placed at optimal viewing distance from the screen—picture quality was indeed sweet.
I increased the room’s light levels even further, using ceiling track lights located above, opposite, and to the left and right of the screen. While the screen rejected additional light up to a point, the nice blacks were eventually washed out. Rats. Sony’s ChromaVue product manager said that he got excellent results with higher room light levels, best when the light source is above the screen. He added that Sony is working on dealer demos that will show how room lighting can be arranged so that customers can enjoy high ambient-light levels while taking full advantage of the screen’s ambient- light rejection capabilities—an excellent idea (check with your local ChromaVue retailer for details).
I experimented with the projector’s iris and bulb controls to see if adjusting either might improve the already deep black levels I was seeing, but they caused details in dark areas of images to be buried without enhancing black levels. I assume that the ChromaVue would help any suitable UHP lamp-driven projector achieve darker blacks.
On color-calibrating the projector for the ChromaVue, I found some colortemperature differences between it and the white Stewart screen. Using the ChromaVue, I achieved 6500K at 30 IRE and 6712K at 80 IRE; at the same settings (including gains and cuts for color temperature), the Stewart measured 6102K and 6600K, respectively. I also observed some visible color shift on mid-level signals (around 45–70 IRE) with the ChromaVue screen when I watched off-axis—a minor problem, perhaps, but one that the Stewart screen did not exhibit. All readings were made inches from the projection lens to avoid skewing the measurements.
Overall, the ChromaVue image was more than adequately bright (at least with the Sony projector), though not as bright as my reference Stewart screen. I would say the HS51 offers light output that is just adequate to preserve dark-scene detail on the ChromaVue. Keep in mind, too, that the ChromaVue screen is presently offered only in an 80" size, which requires far less illumination than a 100" screen would. (One-hundredinch screens are more nearly the norm.) Should Sony choose to offer a larger version of the ChromaVue screen, I suspect it will be necessary to use projectors with more output than the HS51 to maintain adequate brightness and preserve dark-scene detail.
Actually, I did observe very slight crushing of dark-scene details with the HS51/ChromaVue combination compared with the HS51/Stewart combination (both combos with properly set user controls). The details were still there with the ChromaVue, but a little harder to discern. I ran these findings by Sony’s ChromaVue product manager, who said that when demonstrating the screen with the HS51, he would set the contrast to 92% (slightly higher than the setting I used), turn off the auto iris (which I did), set the projector at maximum bulb brightness, and use the projector’s GAMMA 3 setting. (I found the GAMMA 1 setting produced the best results in my room.) I would like to see Sony develop a custom gamma setting specifically for use with the ChromaVue screen, which would eliminate the slight black crush I observed.