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JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results

JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« on: July 18, 2022, 09:07:38 AM »
JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
I had the pleasure of visiting AV Science's showroom in Rochester, NY last month to do a fun comparison shootout between Epson’s new EH-LS12000 and JVC’s new DLA-RS1100 as they were lucky enough to have both projectors on display at the same time in their showroom.

While the LS12000 may be priced with an MSRP of $4,999 versus the RS1100's $6,999, I know many people are interested in knowing how these two high-performance projectors compare against the other. After all, Epson has traditionally been known as one of the industries best value brands, typically offering features and performance punching well above the product's asking price.

Before we jump into the results, I want to give some details about each projector to help give some context to the results of the shootout.

For starters, the light engines and imaging devices are very different between these two projectors. The LS12000 uses a laser-based, 1080p-native 3LCD light engine, while the RS1100 is using a more traditional bulb-based light engine with native 4K D-ILA imaging devices.

It should be noted that, at close to two-thirds the price of the RS1100, Epson includes a longer-lasting laser light source (rated for 20,000 hours) that I know many are happy to see included at this price point. With the RS1100, you’re still going to need to swap bulbs out every few thousand hours, so be sure to keep this in mind as this will artificially increase the cost of ownership compared to the LS12000 as the projector ages.

To achieve 4K-resolution on-screen, Epson is using a newly designed 4-way pixel-shifting technique in conjunction with the native 1080p LCD panels inside the LS12000. Because Epson can create four “sub-pixels” by optically shifting each 1080p pixel in 4 directions per video frame, they can effectively quadruple the native resolution of the LCD panel to achieve a 4K image. The effect happens so quickly that, to our eyes, we perceive the image on-screen as one seamless, high resolution image.

When I threw up some native 4K test patterns, it was clear to see Epson has done their homework with this new pixel-shifting technique. It was surprising to see just how close to a true 4K image it gets you. The RS1100, by contrast, doesn't need to rely on any optical manipulation to achieve its high resolution image on-screen. These same 4K test patterns are rendered essentially perfect and that makes sense because the D-ILA display devices are true 4K panels.

The LS12000 is specified to output a maximum of 2,700 lumens versus the RS1100's 1,900. Epson claims a 2,500,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, where JVC claims a 40,000:1 native and 400,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Neither manufacturer specifies color performance, but we know both have REC2020 compatibility modes needed for HDR video playback and offer color performance beyond SDR video’s REC709 color gamut. 

For video processing, the LS12000 continues to use a static tonemap approach for HDR video sources, but can be further enhanced with what the company is calling Scene Adaptive Gamma. This software is a frame-by-frame image enhancement tool that’s meant to help lessen the visibility of some of the inherent limitations a static tonemap approach has, like an overly dark appearance in certain movie scenes. With it enabled and set to a moderate level, owners can expect this software to increase the sense of brightness and contrast in the image, making HDR video more subjectively pleasing.

On the RS1100, JVC has added support for the company’s real-time dynamic tonemapping solution for HDR10 video sources which the company calls Frame Adapt HDR. This software looks at every frame and adjusts the tonemap on-the-fly, resolving many of the inherent limitations a static tonemap approach has to ensure the image is satisfyingly bright, while still providing proper shadow detail, bright highlights without loss of detail, and subjectively natural colors all at once. This is one of those value-added features most home theater projectors currently lack and greatly improves the overall sense of dynamic range to HDR10 video sources. To get the same type of video processing on the LS12000, you’d need to purchase a Lumagen or madVR Envy video processor which cost thousands of dollars. So keep this in mind if you plan on watching a lot of HDR video.

As you can see in the photo above, both projectors were installed in the back of the room in essentially the same spot, so the throw distance to the screen was nearly identical, helping us gain a better understanding of the relative difference in light output capabilities between these two models.

Before any comparisons were made, I spent a couple hours calibrating both projectors off of the 135-inch DreamScreen UltraWeave V7 AT screen AV Science has in their showroom to make sure both projectors were on the same playing field, especially in terms of white balance and color.

I chose a REC2020 calibration as all of the video played back was 4K HDR sourced from UltraHD Blu-ray. Knowing this, the plan was to set up both projectors to output as much light as possible to help maximize image quality with this kind of video material. This meant that the RS1100 was placed in High lamp mode with its iris fully open and the LS12000 set to max laser output.

Additionally, the LS12000 was calibrated in its Natural picture preset mode as it offers a little more light output compared to Cinema mode. The only drawback to using this mode over this projector’s Cinema mode is that it loses a couple percentage points of REC2020 gamut coverage.

Still, the LS12000 measured an impressive 86% coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut within REC2020 after calibration in this mode. Whereas the RS1100 measured just a little more coverage at 91% in its respective Natural picture preset mode.

As you can see in the calibration images, the LS12000 can’t quite match the RS1100 in providing slightly deeper shades of green and red, where things like lush green foliage might look a bit more satisfying on the RS1100 with the right video material that has these deeper shades of color encoded into it. But the upside to using Natural mode is getting more light output. After calibration, I measured the LS12000 outputting nearly 30% more light than the RS1100 when throwing their images from the same distance back. I was very curious to see if this extra light output was going to pay dividends with HDR viewing.

Not surprising, the native on/off contrast performance between the two projectors differed immensely, as high contrast is one of D-ILA’s hallmark advantages. The LS12000 measured in at 4,650:1 versus 30,520:1 on the RS1100. While the LS12000 is at a disadvantage here, it should be noted that, at its price point, this is class leading performance that’s much higher than any of the single-chip DLP projectors at or below it in price. Only Sony and JVC currently offer better native contrast performance.

In the menu system for each projector, I set up the tonemapping options to best suit the shootout. This meant leaving the Frame Adapt HDR options on the RS1100 mostly at default settings. The only thing I changed was in the Theater Optimizer submenu, where I told the projector the size of the screen we were using to allow it to better adapt the image. On the LS12000, I left the manual HDR tonemap slider adjustment in the middle position, at 10, and made tweaks from there on a movie-by-movie basis.

In this sense, the RS1100 is a far more set-it-and-forget-it HDR solution, adapting to the content on-the-fly, whereas, for best results on the LS12000, the built in controls usually need some tweaking, otherwise the video may appear either too bright or too dark overall. So keep this in mind if you plan on watching a lot of HDR video. It would be nice to see Epson automate their HDR video processing a bit further by at least taking the metadata sent by the source component and using that information to choose the best static tonemap setting on its own like some other implementations currently do.

At their respective price points, both projectors offer class-leading performance overall, but as you can see, stepping up to the JVC does have some benefits in terms of native resolution, color, contrast and video processing features. Whether or not these benefits are worth the extra $2,000 is up to consumers. The Epson is a little brighter, though, opening up the possibility of driving larger sized screens, especially for SDR viewing, depending on your setup. To do that with a JVC projector, you'll need to step up to one of their more expensive laser-based models who offer even greater light output.

Shootout Impressions
As I still had my laptop hooked up, we began the shootout looking at UltraHD Blu-ray content dynamically tonemapped by madVR (state-of-the-art, high performance HDR video processing software) to get a baseline on performance when neither were tasked to tonemap its own video content.

We first took a look at a few scenes from Dune (2021). In terms of resolution and fine detail, we were surprised to see that the LS12000 looked every bit as sharp and detailed as the RS1100 from a normal seated distance back. Fine lines in actors' faces, small details in clothing and background elements in most shots seemed to be rendered essentially indistinguishable between the two projectors. This really goes to show you how well Epson’s 4-way pixel-shifting technique works to provide 4K resolution on-screen.

In terms of subjective image brightness, the LS12000 did have a noticeable lead in certain shots. In the opening sequence, for instance, this shot stood out as one that looked distinctly better on the LS12000. Not only did the brighter background look subjectively brighter, the foreground also appeared to look a bit more contrasty as well. Anytime there was a mixture of really bright and dark elements on screen at the same time like this, the LS12000 seemed to possess a bit more pop to its image.

However, in the very next scene, things got extremely dark and it was really easy to appreciate the huge advantage in dynamic range and black level that the RS1100 provides. Blacks looked impressively dark and inky, whereas, by comparison to the LS12000, it was easy to see that the black level provided was considerably higher, looking more like a shade of gray rather than black itself. This was a recurring visible theme throughout the rest of the shootout anytime the video content was dark and really helped to solidify the advantage in contrast the RS1100 can provide, when needed.

We also took a look at a few scenes in Skyfall (2012) and one of the interesting things I noticed during many shots in this film was just how close colors looked between each projector. Skin tones, in particular, looked much the same between the two. Even when deeper, more saturated shades of red and green needed to be in the image, it was difficult to spot major differences in subjective color performance even though the JVC measured a little better. It was clear that the few percentage point difference between the two didn’t make for obvious color differences with most content.

With madVR in the equation, the overall takeaway was that being fed the same tone mapped image resulted in image quality between the two that looked more the same than it did different. The biggest differences to be seen were when things either got really dark or really bright, which allowed the RS1100 and LS12000 to show off their respective advantages in these areas.

But I suspect most people will not be using an outboard video processing solution like madVR or a Lumagen to handle HDR video, so seeing how each projector handles HDR video sources on their own is an important factor for many to consider. And this is where the results got interesting.

We powered up the Sony UltraHD Blu-ray player in the showroom and fed both projectors untouched HDR10 to compare internal HDR video processing. We decided to look at The Fifth Element (1997) first. Right away, one of the things I noticed was that the brightness advantage the LS12000 possessed earlier during our madVR comparison was essentially gone. Left to its internal static tonemapping, many scenes left me feeling like the LS12000’s image could be a little brighter overall when compared to JVC's Frame Adapt HDR video processing.

In this early scene in the movie, it was easy to see that not only did the image appear about as bright, shadow detail looked noticeably better, as well, on the RS1100. For instance, it was easier to spot details and objects, such as the ladder in the dimly lit corner. With that said, it was possible to help the LS12000’s by making manual adjustments to the HDR Brightness tonemap slider in the menu. But making this scene brighter made other scenes in the movie look too bright and washed out, so we chose a compromise setting to keep a good overall sense of subjective image quality throughout the rest of the movie. This is one of those limitations of a static tonemap approach where one set of tonemap settings is used for an entire movie, compromising certain aspects of the image in some scenes, like we witnessed with shadow detail.

We also noticed that colors were quite a bit different now between projectors, where the LS12000 had a tendency to look oversaturated by comparison. Taken at face value, saturated colors typically look more pleasing to the eye and some may prefer this look despite some of the negatives that go along with them. One of the recurring themes we saw was that skin tones became more saturated as well. So when compared to the RS1100, they looked subjectively incorrect. The Scene Adaptive Gamma software on the LS12000 did make some scenes look a little brighter overall, but it also had a tendency to exacerbate some of the color issues we saw, so it was turned down considerably during the rest of the shootout.

This shot from The Fifth Element stood out to us most. We paused on this shot and compared the two projectors. Skin tones are already dark, so pushing them even further, like the LS12000 did, had a negative effect on the subjective accuracy of them. We found that the RS1100’s Frame Adapt HDR simply does a better job at making colors, like these skin tones, look more natural and correct most of the time.

We also played back a few scenes from The Meg (2018). This disc is a bit of a tortue test for tonemapping due to the extremely bright highlights encoded into the video. The now infamous shot above is a popular one used to test tonemapping performance. To render this shot convincingly, you need to be able to make out the dive cage and the diver inside, like you see above in the tonemapped image by madVR.

When left to a moderate HDR Brightness setting of around 10 on the LS12000, it was impossible to make out both the cage and diver, as the entire area where they were supposed to be visible was devoid of any detail due to clipping in the image. The area looked like a big white patch on-screen instead. Frame Adapt HDR on the RS1100, by comparison, rendered this shot without a hitch as its video processing detected the change in brightness and compensated, which is one of the hallmark advantages of a dynamic tonemapping solution.

Again, we could correct for this issue on the LS12000, but that meant turning the HDR Brightness slider up to around 18. But, like we saw when comparing shadow detail, leaving the setting set this high made most other scenes look far too dark overall.

Checking out some other less demanding scenes on this disc and we noticed the same trend that we saw with The Fifth Element. Blue tones, like in this shot, appeared a little too dark overall, with some of the shadow detail getting crushed. The RS1100, by comparison, looked brighter, with better shadow detail and more natural colors.

But, the shootout wasn’t all a slam dunk for the RS1100. When testing out content that doesn’t have a lot of dark, naturally lit interiors or shots encoded with a massive amount of dynamic range in them, the results were more comparable. This was easy to see when we played back a few scenes from Jumanji The Next Level (2019).

The overall sense of brightness, contrast and color accuracy looked a lot closer to each other than they did with some of the other titles we tested, due to the way this title was graded in HDR.

It was a lot of fun comparing these two high-performance projectors. As you can see from some of the measurements taken, both provide a highly accurate image after calibration and offer image quality hard to beat at their respective price points. But if there’s one takeaway about the results that readers should have, it’s that video processing in the era of HDR matters a lot more than I think most assume it does.

This point was driven home after seeing how much closer in subjective performance the two were when feeding both projectors the same tonemapped image from madVR. The major differences left to see were solely down to the pros and cons each projector had in light output and contrast performance, particularly when movie content either got very dark or very bright overall. Color, skin tones and detail in shadows and highlights were much the same when using madVR.

It was only when each was left to handle HDR video processing on its own where image quality in most scenes shifted in a very noticeable way. It was clear to see that JVC’s Frame Adapt HDR is a more automated type of video processing that can adapt to a wider variety of HDR video. It provides a heightened sense of image brightness, while still maintaining good shadow detail, natural looking color and skin tones, and provides visible details in high-nit portions of the image. The LS12000 can provide all of these things as well, but it takes manual adjustment in order to get there. And, as we saw, getting these things right in one scene by changing settings often meant that other scenes didn’t look quite right, forcing us to go back and readjust things. We found it was best to compromise and leave settings at a moderate level instead and deal with the consequences.

It should be noted that what we saw from the LS12000 is not something exclusive to this projector. Pretty much every brand other than JVC uses a static tonemap approach to handling HDR video. So these same issues present here will be present when comparing against most other brands including popular models from Sony, BenQ and Optoma.

All-in-all, most of the HDR content we looked at did look better on the RS1100. But at a 30% premium over the LS12000, it’s hard to say which projector offers more value, especially when you consider that the LS12000 includes a long-lasting laser light source. If your budget can accommodate either projector, I think you’re going to need to figure out which is more important to you -- higher brightness and longevity or higher contrast and superior video processing, as these seem to be the most obvious differences when comparing these projectors.

« Last Edit: July 18, 2022, 10:00:21 AM by Dylan Seeger »
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2022, 09:31:35 AM »
Great review and comparison. Thanks for posting it
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2022, 09:38:13 AM »
Great review and comparison. Thanks for posting it
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2022, 10:03:53 AM »
Well done Dylan. Great comparison. 
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2022, 10:22:32 AM »
Thanks Dylan. Nice write up.
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2022, 10:47:50 AM »
I actually learned quite a bit from your comparison, thanks Dylan!
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2022, 12:32:14 AM »
Nice thorough review. 

And I am impressed you have MadVR running tone mapping on a laptop!  That’s no small feat. 

Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2022, 09:54:29 AM »
Awesome review Dylan! I can relate as I was running an 11000 for a month or so…the 4 way pixel shift is very good! The contrast however not so much…I switched it out for an NZ8 as there were no 12000’s to be found…I am thrilled with my NZ8 and not looking back but I think the sweet spot for laser based price/performance would be a 12000 with MadVr…
« Last Edit: July 21, 2022, 10:13:48 AM by Asharma »

Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2022, 12:29:21 PM »
Yes, great comparison Dylan. It's good to see some high performance choices in that price range. Will be very curious to see how the Sony XW5000ES slots in with those 2. 

Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2022, 12:33:45 PM »
Yes, great comparison Dylan. It's good to see some high performance choices in that price range. Will be very curious to see how the Sony XW5000ES slots in with those 2.
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2022, 02:40:57 PM »
No question the Sony is short changed in specific areas (no 3D, cheaper lens) to hit a price point. Depends on your needs and wants as to whether those matter. I don't have a scope screen but some of the other issues did put me off a bit.

That's why I didn't hesitate (much) to jump on the B-stock deal for the JVC RS2100. 


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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2022, 07:01:40 PM »
Webinar happening right now! 
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2022, 08:09:50 PM »
We will be doing a webinar with Dylan, Epson Rep and JVC Rep discussing these two projectors. Looking forward to that one.
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Re: JVC DLA-RS1100 vs Epson EH-LS12000 Shootout Results
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2023, 07:43:45 AM »
Jason from AVS was kind enough to let me bring my JVC NX7 to put up against these 2 projectors,. I was concerned about the screen size being too big and the NX7 not being able to light it up in my space. I was very pleased with the results and preferred My NX7 to both the Epson and NP5. I will say he Epson looks as razor sharp and I could not tell it is not native 4K. Great store and great people at AVS.  

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