Projector Calibration: Improvements for Black-and-White image Projection?

I came across Chris Eberle’s excellent advice regarding calibrating black and white movies on a KURO display, and I’m hoping his knowledge will extend to my question:

I have an Epson PowerLite 4030 2D/3D Home Cinema projector that I’m generally quite happy with. One thing I notice, though, is that even though this model (unlike previous/lower-end versions) has a “B&W Cinema” color mode setting, one side (approximately half-and-half, I’d guess) of the image appears darker, and the other lighter. There is also often almost a purplish tint to the black-and-white image. Are there further settings I can adjust to make the B&W picture better on this machine, or a calibrator disc/calibration method available to adjust for B&W (I use Disney’s World of Wonder calibration disc, but I don’t believe it calibrates at all for black and white).

– Christopher M
Seattle, WA

Since you’ve already read my suggestions on setting a B&W mode for the Pioneer Kuro then you know the main goal is to achieve a warmer color temperature – 5400K versus the standard 6500K used for color video.

I believe the artifact you’re describing from your Epson 4030 is being caused by an internal neutral density filter. Epson uses these filters in its home theater projectors to reduce light output to a level more like you’d find in a commercial cinema. Otherwise you’d be watching films at a fairly bright 40-50 foot-Lamberts peak which can be fatiguing to the eye and damaging to your black levels.

Before I walk you through some simple adjustments, be sure and save your current settings to one of the projector’s 10 memory slots. That way you can set up a black-and-white mode, save it, then switch between the two easily.

First you should select the Natural Color Mode. I’ve found that one to be the most accurate out of the box on pretty much every Epson projector I’ve reviewed over the past four years. Leave all the settings at their defaults except the Color Temp slider. Reduce that adjuster to 5400 to get an appropriate sepia tone to your black-and-white images.

Projector Calibration

As far as using a calibration disc, you can make use of one if it contains a grayscale step pattern. It looks like a series of gray stripes ranging from black (level 0 or 0%) to white (level 235 or 100%).

Projector Calibration

You can use this pattern to adjust your white point with the aforementioned color temp slider. For color content, you’d want the gray steps to look as neutral as possible. Hopefully as you’re viewing the above graphic on your computer monitor, it looks neutral right now. For a 5400K white balance, it should look more like the version below.

Projector Calibration

This is an approximation I did in Photoshop but it accurately represents a 5400K white point. As I said in my previous article, it matches the color temperature of the bulbs used in theater film projection about 60 years ago.

The nice thing about the Epson 4030’s color temp slider is that you can dial it in to taste. If you want a little less or a little more warmth, just move the slider up or down. There is no real right or wrong here. Watching black-and-white movies this way is a matter of personal preference. I find it works best with vintage films. Modern movies shot in black-and-white have a very different feel and aren’t always enhanced by the 5400K white point.

When you’ve got the settings to your liking, save them to a second memory slot called “B&W” or similar. Then you can return to your normal color settings easily. When you want to watch an old movie and capture the vintage feel of Hollywood’s Golden Age, recall your B&W memory for that nice warm sepia presentation. Enjoy!

Projector Calibration