Sony VPL-VW1000ES 4K 3D Projector Review

2D Calibration

Note: Our Sony VPL-VW1000ES review sample was calibrated using Calman Professional, the industry-leading video calibration software. These measurements reflect the projector shooting into the lens of our colorimeter.


Pre-calibration RGB Tracking
Pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

Fittingly enough for such an expensive piece of equipment, the Sony VPL-VW1000ES featured outstanding greyscale tracking quality, and all we had to do to achieve it was select the “Reference” picture mode (which by default hits the industry standard D65 white point). That’s it – further tweaking is available by selecting one of the “Custom” modes which are editable versions of the five preset white points, but there was really no need. Since we had our calibration equipment set up anyway, we made some adjustments for the sake of being in-depth, even although they’d make no visible difference:

Post-calibration RGB Tracking in [Reference] mode
Post-calibration RGB tracking and dEs in [Reference] mode

Accurate greyscale tracking is the foundation of high quality video – after all, if greyscale shades have colour contamination in them, then the entire video image will be tinted. This performance is significantly better than any other SXRD projector we’ve reviewed – typically we’ll spend a great deal of time going back and forth trying to achieve the flattest possible greyscale tracking (see our review of the VPL-HW50ES, for example); on the VPL-VW1000ES, we didn’t have to anything! We’ll have to wait and see if this benefit spills down to the cheaper SXRD projectors later.


Pre-calibrated Gamma tracking in [Reference] mode Post-calibrated Gamma tracking in [Reference] mode
Pre-calibration gamma tracking (2.2) Post-calibration gamma tracking (2.4)

In the out-of-the-box mode, the Sony VPL-VW1000ES’s average gamma was 2.18. Gamma tracking was very smooth, resulting in lifelike and realistic images without any static contouring (for example, “scorched” pools of light on brightly lit actors’ faces). However, for viewing in a darkened room, we prefer a gamma of 2.4. This subdues shadow detail, taking into account the fact that the human visual system acclimatises to dark environments – because of how our eyes work, a gamma of 2.2 can look a little “washed out” to a viewer who’s been sitting in the dark for a few moments.

Achieving flat 2.4 gamma was almost as effortless as achieving flat greyscale tracking: we simply had to find the [Gamma Correction] setting and choose the 2.4 option. Although the Sony VPL-VW1000ES, like all Sony projectors, can have it individual gamma curves adjusted by hooking up to a PC running the Sony ImageDirector software, there was simply no need for us to do so because the performance was already so good.


Bafflingly for such an expensive projector, the Sony VPL-VW1000ES does not feature a colour management system – unlike the considerably cheaper 1080p projector range. We can only assume that the processing required to do this at the 4K level posed some sort of implementation difficulty for Sony.

That leaves the basic [Color], [Hue], and [Color Correction] and [Color Space] as the only four controls affecting colour on the VPL-VW1000ES. We’re not sure what the intended effect of [Color Correction] is, because enabling it in the accurate picture mode does absolutely nothing (it did alter the colour of red if we had one of the wide gamut modes selected). [Color Space] allows the user to choose between the HDTV standard “BT.709″ (usually referred to as “Rec 709″ – same thing) or the wider DCI and Adobe RGB options, both of which cause a mechanical adjustment to take place (we assume a colour filter being slid out of the light path).

Fortunately, the lack of indepth colour controls didn’t affect the VW1000ES’s performance one bit. Measurements revealed that the colour performance of the VPL-VW1000ES features some statistical inaccuracies, but nothing that actually resulted in a visible problem.

Post-calibration CIE chart in [Reference] mode
Post-calibration CIE chart with reference to HD Rec.709
Post-calibration Luminance levels in [Reference] mode
Post-calibration colour luminance (coloured bars = targets; black bars = measured values)
Colour saturation tracking
Post-calibration colour saturation tracking

3D Calibration

One area where we were expecting less-than-perfect performance with the Sony VPL-VW1000ES was with its 3D output mode. As far as we can ascertain, the active-shutter glasses provided with this projector are the same ones as with the Japanese manufacturer’s more affordable units, and therefore are likely to suffer from the usual inconsistencies of 3D glasses – each pair has a slightly different tint.

We attached the 3-D eyewear to the front of our measuring devices, and got to work:

3D Mode Greyscale

Sure enough, the VPL-VW1000ES’s tri-dimensional images, seen through the glasses, had a visible green tint – which we’re sure is a familiar sight to fans of 3D movies at the cinema. However, the tint is imposed largely by the projector rather than the glasses (something we confirmed by removing the glasses from the measuring path).

What’s more, sometimes the results changed. We soon discovered that the Sony VPL-VW1000ES has undefeatable gamma shifting behaviour in its 3D output mode (even when set to “Reference” picture mode) which the cheaper VPL-HW50ES did not have. The shifting appears to be done entirely at the video processing level; as far as we could ascertain, in 3D output mode, the iris is constantly wide open, providing maximum light output (which would make sense). Perhaps Sony felt that the dimming effect of the 3D glasses required some form of perceptual compensation?

3D Pre-calibration RGB Tracking
3D Pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

With the two-point controls in the menu, we calibrated out the worst of the inaccuracies, trading a large green tint for a smaller blue one (which should be less noticeable). This is the best result we could achieve with standard two-point controls.

In theory, we could have achieved a perfect result by hooking up a computer to the projector and manually sniping at the inaccuracies by denting the red, green or blue gamma curves at the necessary points. So, why didn’t we? First, given that the gamma shifting behaviour was dynamic, this would likely do more harm than good; even if we could achieve a measurably perfect result using test patterns, unusual coloured artefacting could appear in actual content at different APLs (average picture levels). Secondly, the errors weren’t huge anyway, so we left things alone rather than tempting fate.

Crucially, we mitigated errors in the darker areas of the picture at the expense of leaving errors in the highlights (which will be less visible).

3D Post-calibration RGB Tracking in [Reference] mode
3D Post-calibration RGB tracking and dEs in [Reference] mode

3D Mode Colour

After greyscale calibration in 3D, colour accuracy was very good. That’s just as well, because other than the global [Color] and [Hue] controls, we have no control over this in the third dimension either.

3D Post-calibration CIE chart in [Reference] mode
3D Post-calibration CIE chart with reference to HD Rec.709
3D Post-calibration Luminance levels in [Reference] mode
3D Post-calibration colour luminance (coloured bars = targets; black bars = measured values)

Benchmark Test Results

Dead pixels None
Panel uniformity Excellent
Primary chromaticity Excellent
Motion resolution (approx.) 300 lines (native), 650 lines (Motionflow)
Digital noise reduction Defeatable
Sharpness Defeatable
Luma/Chroma bandwidth (2D Blu-ray) Full Luma, Full Chroma
1080p/24 capability No judder in 2D or 3D
Input lag 46ms compared to lag-free CRT
Full 4:4:4 reproduction (PC) No

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