Home Theater Shootout:
Epson Home Cinema 5030UB vs Panasonic PT-AE8000

Evan Powell, November 13, 2013

Frame Interpolation

This technology has the potential to substantially improve the viewing experience of very large screen images by reducing or eliminating judder during slow camera panning sequences. Judder is often a distracting artifact that can cause the picture to completely disintegrate momentarily, and getting rid of it is a wonderful thing. Frame interpolation systems evaluate the movement that occurs between two frames in sequence, then create and insert intermediate frames that approximate the movement and tend to smooth it out.

The downside is that frame interpolation ("FI") can introduce its own artifacts such as ghosting or what one might describe as oily artifacts around subjects moving across the screen. Another common complaint about frame interpolation is that it can enhance the image to where it appears to be real video rather than film (called the "digital video" or "soap opera" effect). This can interfere with the suspension of disbelief required for total immersion in the film experience. Basically, if the picture looks like it was shot with a high resolution video camera you begin to think about how eerily real the picture looks rather than the film's story. Some people like the effect, but it is clearly a departure from the authentic cinema aesthetic. Videophiles rightly regard it as disturbingly artificial.

The objective of FI is to eliminate as much judder as possible while minimizing ghosting and the digital video effect. There is a mysterious art to this, and both the 5030 UB and the AE8000 have three separate settings that are intended to balance these trade-offs, which are essentially low, moderate, and aggressive applications of the technique. On the AE8000, FI is called Frame Creation, and the options are Off, Mode 1, Mode 2, and Mode 3. On the 5030UB it is called Frame Interpolation, and the options are Off, Low, Normal, and High.

In the end, the AE8000's Frame Creation system tends to achieve more satisfying results than the 5030UB. When it is set on low ("Mode 1") with a 1080p/24 source, the AE8000 shows substantially reduced judder while imparting very little ghosting or digital video effect in most films. Once you bump the control from low to normal (Mode 2) the remaining judder is largely eliminated, but the digital video effect can become more apparent. However, this is dependent on the nature of the material. Mode 2 is too aggressive for a romantic comedy like 50 First Dates, but it works very well with Blade Runner, wherein no soap opera effect appears at all. The ideal setting depends (a) on the movie you're watching, and (b) the degree to which you like or dislike the soap opera effect.

On the 5030UB, the Low setting does not have quite the same judder reducing power as the AE8000, but it does have a beneficial effect that is better than leaving it off altogether. When resetting FI to Normal, the 5030UB does a superb job of eliminating most judder, but it can impart a more pronounced video effect than does the AE8000 in its Mode 2. Once again, this depends entirely upon the subject matter being viewed. The movie Vicki Cristina Barcelona is filmed with slightly soft-focus optics that imparts a dreamlike quality to the image. The movie contains numerous slow panning scenes of beautiful architecture and artwork. For this film the Normal setting of FI on the 5030UB works beautifully--it eliminated panning judder without introducing any distracting digital video effect due to the film's inherent soft focus. The few ghosting artifacts that appeared were rare and insignificant. I would not watch this movie on the 5030UB without setting FI to Normal.

In short, there is no "one size fits all" solution to frame interpolation. Its effects vary and are entirely dependent on the content. If you end up selecting either of these two projectors, the FI systems will definitely be worth exploring, as they both have the ability to improve the smoothness and clarity of the image.

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Input Lag and Gaming
Review Contents: Introduction Image Quality 3D Performance Frame Interpolation
  Input Lag and Gaming Cinemascope Options Remote and Menu Other Key Features

Reader Comments(12 comments)

Posted Dec 25, 2014 6:57:09 PM

By Myron Oleson

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If you factor in today's (12-25-14) actual selling price for both of these models, the Panasonic is hands down the clear winner. No contest!

Posted Feb 7, 2014 9:51:54 PM

By kanerator

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Thanks, Evan. I figured that was the case, but I always like to check with the experts.

Posted Feb 7, 2014 10:59:53 AM

By Evan Powell, Editor

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@ Kanerator and Paras... the lip synch issue is minor. Almost all AV receivers have audio delays that will allow video to be in perfect synch with audio. All projectors benefit from having this done since they all delay video to some degree. The Epson 6030 and 5030 do a lot of video processing and as a result the delay is more than you find on some other projectors. Generally, if you run with frame interpolation on you will benefit from a delay in the range of 100 to 150 ms, whereas on other projectors a delay of 60 to 80 ms might be in order. Once it is set, you're pretty much dialed in, and only those who are hyper-sensitive to synch issues would want to keep fiddling with it. I use the 6030 regularly and I don't have any problems with synch, and I certainly don't keep adjusting it.

Posted Feb 6, 2014 7:40:20 PM

By kanerator

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I agree with the question by Paras. I have read your review of the Epson 6030, and reviews at Projector Reviews and elsewhere and this is the first I've read about lip-sync issues. Is this an issue that can be completely eliminated by proper adjustment between frame interpretation and buffer delay? Am I understanding you correctly that any change in frame interpretation or resolution will require adjustments to the buffer delay? Sounds a bit fiddly, since I've never had any lip-sync issues with my Epson TW-2000 in the 7 years I've owned it (with the exception of two cheap dvds). I'd pretty much decided on the Epson 6030. Put my mind at ease, Evan, put my mind at ease.

Posted Jan 20, 2014 4:16:35 AM

By Subhash Khanna

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I want to purchase projector for 50'x100 hall, please adivce to purchase which model & company projector relable cost. Only purpose devotional / satsang are screen videos.

Posted Nov 26, 2013 1:25:49 PM

By Paras

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I was reading your great review and was just about sold on the Epson until I read this section on lip synch issues. Is that something that can be corrected? Having the voice not match a person's lips while you're watching a movie seems horrible... Does it look like you're watching an old kung fu movie?

Thanks for your thoughts...

Posted Nov 15, 2013 9:20:19 AM

By Jeff

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What projector would be best for watching sports, mostly football in a dedicated dark media room?

Posted Nov 14, 2013 10:30:01 AM

By Evan Powell, Editor

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Thanks very much for the comments and feedback everyone.

Eddie, you are correct that there is a difference in the 2-year warranties, and I mistakenly overlooked that. I will remove the reference to common warranties on the first page, and add a paragraph on the warranties in "Other Key Differences." I appreciate the head's up on this item.

To summarize what I said in the evaluation--the Epson 5030UB is an outstanding projector that has numerous advantages over the AE8000 including contrast, detail clarity, black levels, on-board panel alignment capability, etc. Moreover, some of the technical advantages of the AE8000 like powered zoom/focus, lens memory, less buffer delay, and lower digital noise are not really practical advantages in many instances. For many buyers the 5030UB will clearly be the best choice. Hopefully that will be obvious to most readers.

Tony, Stewart does not recommend the 100 for home theater because is a virtually perfect diffuser intended for professional use in a black room with zero ambient or reflected light, something which is rarely achieved or even desirable in most home theaters. Stewart recommends the Studiotek 130 or the new lower cost Cima fabrics as better choices for home theater. In some of our recent testing we've set up the Cima Neve (white) screen side by side with the 100. The Cima is a bit brighter and more vibrant in the very low ambient light you normally experience in a home theater, and we would agree that for typical home theater use the Cima is not only the better choice, but the more cost-effective.

Adam, we have not shopped for a budget 2.4 screen, so I don't have any specific advice on that. Several screen vendors offer them, and you might solicit advice from some of the better online projector dealers who work a lot with home theater packages. If you set up a 2.4 format screen, you will need either an extra anamorphic lens that you install in front of the projector's standard lens, or the ability to re-adjust zoom, focus and vertical positioning of the picture when you switch between 2.4 and 16:9 format images. You can do that manually on the 5030UB if it is installed within easy reach, or the AE8000 does the lens resetting automatically with its Lens Memory system.

Posted Nov 13, 2013 7:05:18 PM

By Tbone85

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Excellent and detailed comparison. Thank you.

Posted Nov 13, 2013 1:54:35 PM

By Adam Hedman

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So where is the best place to get a nice quality budget 2.4:1 Cinemascope format screen? I have the Panasonic AE9000 and want to look at different options for my movie watching experience. Also, do you need to purchas a different lens to watch it in 2.4:1 format? Where do you get that?

Posted Nov 13, 2013 1:26:08 PM

By Eddie

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Evan, You really are glossing over the warranty differences between the 5030UB and AE8000. To imply they're 'equal' with 2 years is a stretch.

Panasonic has a 2000 hour limit which ends warranty coverage. Use the AE8000 more than 3 hours a day and you don't get two years. 8 hours a day and your warranty is kaput in 8 months. No hour limit on Epsons.

Also, Epson will ship you a replacement immediately and pay the shipping both ways during the two years. With the Panasonic, you pay for shipping and are without a projector for the duration of the repairs.

Given the glowing praise for every instance where you find the Panasonic superior, you owe us a little of the same when the opposite is true if only for credibility.

Further, comparing this shootout with Bill's shootout last year of the 5020UB vs AE8000, one might almost conclude that the 5030UB has gotten WORSE given the effusive praise of the AE8000 in this comparison...

Posted Nov 13, 2013 11:46:53 AM

By tony

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Why is the Stewart Studiotek 100 not appropriate for these projectors? Is it the 1.0 gain? I thought a perfectly dark room meant you would want LESS gain if anything since the room is so dark already.

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