To call the Pro Cinema LS12000 4K Pro-UHD laser projector the top dog in Epson’s home theater stable is an understatement. As well as offering the many features that Epson Pro Cinema projectors are famous for (including large lens shift to adjust image position and lens memory to easily store and retrieve multiple zoom settings and offset), the LS12000 is the first Epson projector to put 3,840 x 2,160 pixel resolution on the screen. It’s also the first to support HDR10+, as well as HDR10 and HLG HDR, using a laser light source with a rated life of 20,000 hours. This laser source provides a dark black level more often associated with lamp projectors. Even at a hefty $4,999 price tag, it’s impressive value and a shoo-in as our Editors’ Choice award winner for a 4K home theater projector.
The Difference Maker: True 4K Resolution
If you’re familiar with the version of 4K Pro-UHD in other Epson models like the EpiqVision Ultra LS500 4K and the Pro Cinema 4050, you know that it uses three 1080p LCD chips and pixel shift technology that doesn’t puts only half pixels on the screen as a full 4K image. You’re probably also aware that at typical viewing distances there’s little to no perceptible difference in resolution between their images and true 4K images, partly because of the limits of human visual acuity and partly because other factors such as contrast and lens quality contribute to your ability. to solve the detail.
The Pro Cinema LS12000’s 4K Pro-UHD is also dependent on pixel shifting, but instead of projecting two sets of slightly shifted 1920 x 1080 pixel images for each frame, it projects four sets to display a full 4K matrix. Plus, like Epson’s previous pixel-shift models, it offers a premium glass lens (with 15 elements in this case) and video processing that further improves the level of detail actually rendered. So where the LS500 and 4050 are indistinguishable from true 4K at normal viewing distances, I found that when I stood a foot or two away from the screen with the LS12000, I could see details I couldn’t. ‘ve ever seen with a 4K DLP projector that uses TI. pixel displacement. Unless your eyesight is better than 20/20, you won’t notice the difference from the distance from the couch or chair, but it is there.
The LS12000 has another advantage over single-chip DLP models: because of its three-chip design, it cannot produce rainbow artifacts, the flashes of red, green and blue that all viewers don’t see, but that many find boring.
First-class configuration features
The main attractions that the Pro Cinema LS12000 shares with other Epson projectors are a large zoom range (2.1x); large vertical and horizontal lens shifts that let you move the image without moving the projector; and a memory to store up to 10 combinations of zoom, shift and focus settings for easy retrieval.
From the centered position, horizontal shift can move the image nearly half a screen width (47.1%) to the left or right, while vertical shift can shift it nearly any screen height (96.3%) up or down. The combination allows you to place the projector anywhere, from a low shelf at the back of the room to inverted in a ceiling mount, and centered or offset to one side. All settings are motorized and the remote control gives you precise control for easy adjustments.
As discussed in more detail in our Epson Pro Cinema 4050 review, these motorized lens settings do more than just simplify setup. Since you can save and retrieve combinations with a single command, you can easily maintain the same frame height for content with different aspect ratios, in what’s called a constant frame height configuration ( CIH). For home cinema, this is most often used in combination with a Cinemascope display (2.35:1 or 2.4:1) to switch between 16:9, 2.35:1 and 2.4:1 content . Also note that (unlike the 4050) the LS12000 also supports the use of an external (and expensive) anamorphic lens as an alternative to creating a CIH setup, if preferred.
As you’d expect from a 4K projector with a laser phosphor light source and a lens mechanism robust enough to maintain precise positioning for the life of the device, this Epson is necessarily large and heavy, weighing 28 pounds and measuring 7.6 by 20.5 by 17.6 inches (HWD).
Its output of 2,700 lumens makes the LS12000 exceptionally bright for a home theater projector, especially one with Epson’s UltraBlack technology, which produces particularly dark black levels. Dark blacks are important for providing good image quality in a dark room, although they are largely unrelated to ambient light, which tends to wash out black levels and mask the difference between projectors that cast them. provide and those that do not.
According to the recommendations of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), 2,700 lumens is bright enough for a 240-inch 1.0 gain display with a 16:9 aspect ratio in a dark room, although that the recommendations for HDR display would reduce the size to 150-200 inches. For my tests using the projector’s Bright Cinema mode, the default brightness setting of 75% was sufficient to adequately illuminate a 130-inch screen in a darkened room for SDR and HDR viewing. (See our guide to choosing the best screen for your projector.)
As with most projectors designed for home theater use, the LS12000 does not include an audio system or internal speakers. However, it does offer eARC over an HDMI port so you can connect to external audio.
A superb image, after tweaking the HDR
The flagship Pro Cinema offers five preset picture modes for SDR and HDR inputs. For SDR images, the dynamic mode was slightly green shifted, but much less than the brightest modes of most projectors. Most viewers would consider it acceptable. The other four modes offered color accuracy good enough that few, if any, could tell which worked best without resorting to measurement or comparison to a reference image. All modes also performed well for black level, contrast and sense of three-dimensionality, but I preferred Bright Cinema as it was a bit higher than the others overall, especially for the contrast.
For the HDR input, I used several movies on 4K HDR10 discs. Again, Bright Cinema was my favorite mode, but all five left the image far too dark for comfortable viewing at default settings. This is a common problem with HDR projectors, mainly due to the limitations of HDR10. After some tweaking, bright scenes looked appropriate with well saturated colors, while dark scenes offered suitably dark blacks along with good contrast, shadow detail and three-dimensionality, along with all the visual impact I wait for scenes that I know. in our test suite.
Unlike previous 4K Pro-UHD models, the LS12000 supports frame interpolation (FI) to smooth motion using 1080p or 4K input. Many people don’t like using FI for movies because it adds a digital video effect (sometimes called the “soap opera effect”) that makes the filmed material look like live video. However, it can improve the look of live and recorded videos ranging from sports to concerts. You can also experiment with auto iris adjustment, which adjusts the iris based on the content of individual scenes, to help keep the black level dramatically dark.
For gamers, the Pro Cinema LS12000 offers a shorter lag measurement for 4K input than most projectors. I measured it with a Leo Bodnar lag test meter at 19.3ms for 4K input at 60Hz, which is fine for all but the most hardcore gamers. I also measured it at 38.5ms for 1080p/60Hz and 29.1ms for 1080p/120Hz, but Epson says the actual lag is the same at 1080p as it is at 4K – the higher measurement is due to the interplay between Pro-UHD’s approach to writing the image to the screen and the way the meter reads the offset. Note that the projector does not have 3D support.
The next level for traditional home theater
The natural home of the Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 is in a traditional home cinema with fully controlled lighting, dark walls to minimize glare towards the screen and a large enough screen to take advantage of its high brightness. Its brightness and short 4K latency also make it a tempting choice, if you can afford it, for in-home family entertainment or a TV replacement, but using it in ambient light would largely spoil the benefits of its UltraBlack technology and high contrast. If you’re looking for a projector for your family room, consider the Epson Pro Cinema 4050, as well as ultra-short-throw (UST) models like the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500, BenQ V7050i, and Optoma CinemaX P2, which are often marketed as TV replacements.
For traditional and luxury home cinema, the LS12000 checks all the right boxes for picture quality and features. Although its HDR settings need tweaking, I had no complaints after that, and any time you pay that much for a projector, you should consider adding a couple hundred bucks for professional calibration, in all cases. Even without calibration, however, the Pro Cinema LS12000 excels in both picture quality and features, easily winning an Editors’ Choice award for home theater at close to its price.
Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 4K Pro-UHD Laser Projector
The Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 is the company’s first home theater projector to bring true 4K resolution to the screen, but that’s just part of the class-leading picture quality and long list of features are worth it.
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