- Written by Chris Eberle
- Published on 18 March 2010
As I had watched the first X-Men film recently, it was only natural to drop in the sequel, X2: X-Men United. This Blu-ray looked fantastic in every way. Color and texture literally popped off the screen. I really enjoyed the effect the SatCo control had on the color presentation and delineation. Since its effect on color accuracy was very small, I left it on for all my viewing. Skin textures on the various actors were rendered with excellent detail. Facial close-ups revealed every pore, every wrinkle, and every bead of sweat. I found myself wiping my own brow on a few occasions! While watching I experimented a bit with the ConstantContrast and Adaptive Contrast options. As I had discovered during the benchmark tests, Constant Contrast had a negative effect on color which I could plainly see. The iris action was completely seamless with no visible brightness pumping or any noise from the actuator. The color shift however was not in keeping with the image this projector is capable of. The accuracy just wasn’t there so I turned it off. I have included extra graphs in the Benchmark section to show the effect. Adaptive Contrast does its thing without the use of the dynamic iris. While color was not perceptibly affected, low-level detail looked a little crushed. In most medium to bright scenes, I saw little to no difference. Dark scenes on the other hand looked more contrasty with deeper blacks but with the sacrifice of some shadow detail.
10 Things I Hate About You is a recent Blu-ray re-release of a 10-year old movie. The transfer isn’t too bad but the original print shows quite a bit of grain. Despite these drawbacks, the LS-5 rendered highly saturated colors and good dimensionality. I was glad for the SMPTE-C color gamut option as I believe this film was telecined in Rec 601. Despite the fact that all Blu-rays are 1080i or 1080p, and therefore should conform to Rec 709, this is not always the case. Many movies are still mastered with CRT monitors and thus constrained to the slightly smaller gamut of Rec 601. If you ever find a movie just a bit red in the flesh tones, this may be the reason. Since recently reviewing other projectors with a SMPTE-C option, I have created this color preset on my reference Anthem LTX-500. I always prefer to view films in their originally mastered gamut. With the Runco’s easy to use memories, I was able to change this by pressing just two buttons on the remote.
To test the LS-5’s abilities in dark scene content, I turned to U-571 on Blu-ray disc. The undersea shots are plentiful and will test any projector’s rendering of shadow detail and muted colors. They don’t call them the murky depths for nothing! Though blacks weren’t the inkiest I’ve ever seen, the intra-scene contrast was fantastic. The dimly lit submarine interiors looked amazing with small bright details like belt buckles and sweaty faces showing clearly on barely visible backgrounds. Despite strong highlights, the darker parts of the image retained every nuance. There was never a hint of crushing at either end of the brightness scale. Color also held up well at minimum and near-minimum luminance levels. It’s quite easy to see color errors in the darkest hues but the LS-5 showed none of that. The cold blues of the ocean also looked great whether the action was above the surface or below.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a somewhat forgettable remake of the classic horror novel. I say somewhat forgettable because my wife and I realized most of the way through that we had seen this movie at the theater back in 1994! The recent Blu-ray release of this film shows a fairly flat and drab color palette with lots of soft focus and noisy grain. Despite these image-flattening elements, the Runco made this average transfer look pretty good. Dimension and color separation were very good and detail, what there was of it, was preserved well. I was always engaged with the action and as with the other content I watched, color was unfailingly accurate.
I couldn’t help but watch some CGI-based content so I cued up Star Wars: The Clone Wars, animated series. This Cartoon Network show has somewhat simplistic rendering compared to the average Pixar title but surfaces are always covered with grime and grunge portraying a well-used appearance. Fine color gradations were easy to see without a hint of noise or moiré patterns. Clone Wars also displays excellent use of lighting. The excellent intra-image contrast once again made the image pop with a great 3D look.
To test color accuracy, I watched two Blu-rays that I know to have accurate and highly saturated palettes, Seabiscuit and Mission Impossible. The lush scenery surrounding the horse-racing tracks of Depression-era America looked simply gorgeous. The detail in dark scenes was also superb. In my experience, the LS-5 renders the best shadow detail of any DLP I’ve tested to date. Mission Impossible also has a rich color palette. Flesh tones were just right with clear differences between the various characters skin colors. Again, darker content showed superb detail with nary a hint of noise or dithering.
I don’t watch much black and white content so when I saw the 5500K preset in the Runco’s menu, I had to try out the original cut of The Day the Earth Stood Still. This is a science-fiction classic, a real benchmark in storytelling and moviemaking. The slight warmth added by the 5500K color temperature setting was quite pleasing. It gave the picture greater depth and dimension than the usual 6500K white point. This is another feature I have since added to my Anthem LTX-500. I also created a preset for D55 on my Pioneer plasma using the ISF Night mode. Now I can watch old movies in the same way they were seen in the movie theaters of Hollywood’s Golden Era. If your projector or flat panel supports multiple color temp memories, I highly recommend setting one to D55.