For just $3000, you get Ultra HD resolution with HDR, DCI-P3 color, a motorized lens, and plenty of light output for any theater or media room.
The 5050UB sits atop Epson’s Home Cinema line of affordable high-performance 3LCD projectors. With a fantastic pixel-shift feature, it delivers Ultra HD resolution that to my eyes, looks no different than a native Ultra HD projector. Thanks to an all-glass low-dispersion lens and precise convergence of the 3LCD light engine, you can enjoy Ultra HD content with support for HDR10, HLG, and DCI-P3 color. A motorized lens makes setup easy and you can use the handy lens position memories to change aspect ratios on the fly.
Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD Projector
- Ultra HD resolution from a 3LCD light engine
- 250-watt UHE lamp delivers 2600 lumens of white and color brightness
- Fully motorized lens with multiple position memories
- Precise and accurate color for both SDR and HDR content
- DCI-P3 color gamut support with HDR10 and HLG
I’ve been reviewing Epson projectors for nearly 10 years now and the one thing I’ve observed during that time is consistent and incremental improvement in their products. Each new projector, whether an upgrade of its predecessor or an entirely new model, improves in quality and features. And the price never seems to go up. You can always count on the top of the Home Cinema line to cost about $3000.
The 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD Projector continues that tradition. In 2016, I reviewed the Pro Cinema 6040UB and found it delivered excellent performance in all respects. It’s hard to imagine Epson topping that projector without raising the price tag but they have done it here. The 5050UB improves upon the 6040UB in every way. And its feature set is something you’d expect to find on a high-end JVC or Sony costing three times as much. There’s a lot to see here so without further ado, let’s take a look.
Epson 3LCD, 3-chip LCD, Polysilicon TFT Active Matrix .74”
1920×1080, 3840×2160 w/PRO-UHD pixel-shift, 16:9 aspect ratio
+/-96% vertical, +/-47% horizontal
250-watt UHE lamp
Light output (mfr):
2600 lumens white, 2600 lumens color
Lamp service life:
2x HDMI 2.0, VGA D-sub
3x USB, RJ-45, RS-232, 12v trigger out
20.5” x 7.6” x 17.7” (WxHxD)
2 years, 90 days lamp
epson, home cinema 5050UB 4k pro-uhd, 4k, ultra hd projector, lcd projector, hdr, ultra hd
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The 5050UB uses Epson’s tried-and-true 3LCD light engine. It’s a .74” 3-chip LCD design with a 250-watt UHE lamp and an internal filter that moves into place to extend the color gamut out to DCI-P3. In my tests, I measured over 97% coverage which exceeds that of most projectors and flat-panel TVs. It also supports HDR10 and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG). The native resolution is 1920×1080 and an optical diffuser is used in the light path to pixel-shift the image to 3840×2160. Epson has tweaked this system a few times since it first appeared, and this latest iteration is the best yet. Watching reference demo material from the Spears & Munsil UHD disc was an amazing experience.
Credit must also go to the 5050UB’s 15-element all-glass lens. Optics can make or break a projector and I’ve been spoiled lately by a long line of very sharp DLPs coming through my theater. 3-chip LCD and LCoS designs usually sacrifice a bit of clarity compared to DLP displays unless their lenses are of very high quality and Epson has met that challenge. My sample showed nothing but razor-sharp images with no distortion anywhere on the screen. It easily competes with the JVC DLA-RS640 I reviewed in 2017 and that is no small compliment.
The lens sports a full set of motorized adjustments including 96% vertical and 47% horizontal shift plus a large zoom range that covers a 1.35-2.84 throw ratio. You can set the 5050UB up almost anywhere and project an image. There are also lens position memories that make on-the-fly aspect ratio changes a simple affair. This is a great feature for those using cinema scope screens. You can zoom out those black bars with a few clicks of the remote.
The chassis is fairly large but not as heavy as it looks. It’s finished in white with gold trim. If you want a black projector, go for the Pro Cinema 6040UB. It has slightly different specs but is essentially the same display. It also comes with a spare bulb, ceiling mount, cable cover, an additional year of warranty, ISF calibration tool, and an anamorphic lens option.
Ventilation is generous with two large grills flanking the centered lens. There is no light leakage anywhere and the fan is extremely quiet on the eco and medium bulb settings. High power produces more noise, but I didn’t find it a problem when the movie sound was playing. On the left side of the case are power and source buttons along with a little door that opens to reveal menu navigation buttons.
The back panel is stocked with two HDMI 2.0 inputs. They run at full 18Gbps bandwidth and accept incoming signals up to 4096×2160 at 60Hz. You also get three USB ports, one of which provides power for optical HDMI cables. Legacy components can use the analog VGA port either with a D-sub connector or a component breakout cable. Control systems are supported by RS-232 and a 12v trigger output.
The 5050UB’s remote is fully backlit and has just about everything one would need to tweak picture settings, change aspect ratios with lens memories, and operate the projector. Frequently accessed features like HDR, lens position, and frame interpolation have their own dedicated keys. The motorized lens can be easily adjusted from your seat or better yet, with your nose right up to the screen. You also get a set of transport keys and volume controls to operate HDMI-CEC-enabled source components. Epson tops it off with discrete power and input selection buttons, nice!
The 5050UB also supports 3D content though I didn’t receive a pair of glasses with my sample so I couldn’t test this feature. You’ll need Epson’s glasses and the projector has adjustments to reverse sync and vary the depth of the 3D effect. And you get two additional picture modes, 3D Dynamic and 3D Cinema.
Epson has always catered to videophiles with a complete set of image adjustments. With support for multiple color gamuts and HDR, there are added controls to help tailor that content to the viewer’s preference. The standout feature is a 16-level HDR brightness control that moves the EOTF curve up or down to suit content mastered at different peak light levels. Since projectors are limited in output compared to their flat-panel brethren, this is a handy feature that can make all your movies and shows look their best. You also get six picture modes tailored for different uses and environments. For SDR content, I used Natural and for Ultra HD movies, Digital Cinema. The latter places a filter in the light path to extend the color gamut.
For my review, I set the 5050UB up on a shelf behind my seating with the lens axis just above the center of the screen. A few tweaks of the shift, zoom, and focus controls had the image perfectly sized and focused in seconds. The motorized lens is convenient, and you can focus with much more precision when you’re standing right by the screen. I connected a pattern generator to perform the calibration, then an OPPO UDP-203 player for practical evaluation.
SDR calibration was a breeze in Natural mode. Out of the box, color is accurate though I found the gamut slightly under-saturated due to the gamma which was a bit light. Changing the preset to -2 fixed that issue along with a few changes to the two-point color temp controls. There are many options to control light output and contrast. Not only are there three bulb power settings, there’s a superb auto-iris with two speeds and a 20-position manual iris. This last one is something all projectors should have because you can precisely set your peak light output to best suit the environment. The 5050UB is capable of over 300 nits which is far too much for my small all-black theater. I closed it down to -8, set the bulb to Eco, and chose the auto-iris’ high-speed option. This gave me over 37,000:1 contrast which is nearly what I measure from my Anthem LTX-500. That is impressive!
I also calibrated for HDR signals which took a bit more time. In addition to the same grayscale and color management controls available in SDR mode, there is a 16-position HDR brightness control that moves the EOTF curve up and down to suit different content. When measuring, I got the best-looking luminance charts by moving it to 4 (it starts at 8). I also tweaked the RGB controls a bit which improved overall accuracy. The bulb power was set to medium with the manual iris fully open and the auto iris set to high speed. My only nitpick is that you must manually switch picture modes between SDR and HDR material.
Epson also includes a large array of image enhancement features. You can literally spend hours tweaking the various sliders or just choose one of five image presets. In my observation, anything over 2 resulted in visible ringing but turning presets off made the picture a little soft. 1 or 2 works fine and results in an extremely sharp and detailed image with no artifacts. I left 4K enhancement on for all content as there were no downsides to its use. With calibration and other tweaks complete, it was time for a few movies.
I went right for the Jungles episode in Planet Earth II to watch a sequence of hummingbirds feeding. The closeup shots of these tiny birds are simply breathtaking. You can see every feather and even their tiny tongues as they feed on various richly-colored flowers. The background is a lush green which looked particularly nice on the 5050UB. Several birds had a luminescent quality that was enhanced by the Epson’s terrific color and near-100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Overall detail was every bit as good as what I’ve seen from native Ultra HD projectors. In my environment, it’s impossible to tell the difference.
To check out some fast-moving action, I watched Mission Impossible Fallout. This film is loaded with dark and drab scenes. I had no trouble picking out fine detail and there were no hints of banding, even in wide shots. This is no doubt due to the 5050UB’s 10-bit HDR processing. Highlights and bits of bright color shone through the murk which helped make the picture pop even in the darkest sequences like the boat ride through a tunnel under Paris. I confirmed that HDR 4 was the correct setting by turning it back up to 8 for a few minutes. Not only did the drabness overtake the image, the movies black level no longer melted into the letterbox bars. 4 is clearly the right setting for my combination of screen, room, and Blu-ray player.
The fight scenes in Creed offer a great chance for Ultra HD displays to flex their muscle. Contrast was amazing as the brightly colored boxer’s uniforms came out of the almost pitch-black background. Despite some impressive black levels, I could still pick out faces in the crowd though they were barely lit. HDR truly helps any display look better when it’s done correctly. And Epson most certainly has achieved that.
My final film was First Man which has several scenes that test the speed of a dynamic contrast or auto-iris system. During the Gemini mission where Neil Armstrong and David Scott go on wild spin thanks to a malfunctioning thruster, the image quickly flashes from complete black to bright and back again over about 10 minutes time. At no time did I see any brightness pumping. The auto-iris kept up with the action perfectly.
Regardless of which Ultra HD title I watched, the color was always amazing with rich deep hues that always looked natural and never overblown. HDR 4 was the setting I used for everything. It provided the best balance of dynamic range and color saturation and looked far better than the default setting 8. This is something that users should tailor to their own preference. Even if you have the 5050UB calibrated, you’ll want to experiment with the HDR button on the remote to get the projector looking its best.
To test the Home Cinema 5050UB’s color accuracy, I measured from the lens with an X-Rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer. Luminance readings were taken with a Spectracal C6 tri-stimulus colorimeter facing a 92” diagonal Stewart Filmscreen Luminesse with Studiotek 130 material, gain 1.3, from a 10-foot distance. Patterns were generated by an Accupel DVG-5000 and controlled with CalMAN, version 5.9.
I started with the Home Cinema 5050UB in its Natural picture mode. This has always been the best starting point for calibration in other Epson projectors I’ve reviewed. All measurements are taken with the auto-iris turned off.
Grayscale tracking is near-perfect out of the box with only miniscule green errors visible from 40-50% brightness. What is of greater concern is the gamma which is clearly too light. A gamma trace like this means the picture will lack its full depth potential. It also affects color saturation which I’ll show you in the next round of tests. The good thing is that it tracks in a linear fashion so all I should have to do is raise the entire curve using the gamma presets.
And that is indeed the case. Changing the preset to -2 along with minor RGB tweaks has raised the luminance curve to an excellent 2.19 average and lowered the grayscale error to a reference-level .97dE. It doesn’t get better than this. You’ll see now how those changes impact color reproduction.
There are a couple of issues to note here. First, the blue primary is under-saturated which is a surprise. Its luminance is raised to compensate so the overall error isn’t too bad. Second, all colors are a bit under-saturated in the targets from 40-80%. This is the sweet spot for most content so it’s critical to get this right. This is because the default gamma is too low. Remember that lower gamma numbers equate to higher brightness.
If you don’t want to perform a full calibration of the Home Cinema 5050UB, I recommend changing the gamma preset to -2 at minimum. This will improve color saturation and overall image depth by a visible amount. You can now see that all colors are on target except for blue which is still a little under-saturated. I was unable to fix this using the color management system. The resulting error is under 3dE though, and therefore invisible. This is excellent SDR performance.
To simulate an HDR10 signal, I added an HD Fury Integral to the signal path. It creates the proper tone map to allow HDR measurements using CalMAN’s special workflow. These tests, and the HDR calibration, were performed in the Home Cinema 5050UB’s Digital Cinema picture mode.
Before the clip point at roughly 50% brightness, grayscale tracks well in the dark steps before going blue in the mid and bright tones. The EOTF luminance curve runs a bit dark with a soft clip at 70% instead of the 50% level dictated by the HC 5050UB’s measured black and white levels.
The HC 5050UB has a fine resolution luminance control which moves the EOTF curve up and down, 16 steps in total. The default setting is level 8 but I moved to 4 to generate the above chart. I also tweaked the RGB gain controls which had a very positive result. Setting HDR on level 4 should not be considered an absolute. It will depend on the brightness level mastered into whatever content you’re watching. Not all HDR10 material is the same.
The HC 5050UB renders DCI-P3 without difficulty. Most targets are slightly under-saturated but close to the mark. Linear tracking means you’ll see accurate detail and as much color as was mastered into the content you’re watching. I calculated DCI-P3 volume at 97.32% which is excellent performance.
The Epson makes a good run at Rec.2020 by tweaking red and green right to the edge of the visible color spectrum. Blue is still a bit under-saturated but make no mistake, the color presentation of the HC 5050UB with Ultra HD material is stunning. This projector looks fantastic when showing real-world content. And you’ll be able to spot the good from the bad. This projector should be considered a neutral video component. Overall HDR performance is excellent and I appreciate the inclusion of the HDR level control which ensures maximum quality with all content.
Aside from the 2:2 cadence failure, the HC 5050UB exhibits perfect performance with interlaced sources. No anti-aliasing or edge enhancement was visible on the ship clip with the image enhancement preset at level 2. Chroma resolution is perfect down to the single-pixel burst regardless of signal format.
All luminance values are expressed here in nits, also known as candelas per square meter (cd/m2). For those needing a frame of reference, 1fL equals 3.43 nits, or 1 nit equals .29fL.
There are literally hundreds of combinations possible with the HC 5050UB’s bulb power (three levels), auto iris (two settings), and manual iris (20 openings). In SDR mode (Natural) with the bulb on Eco, the lowest brightness, the manual iris fully open, and the auto iris turned off, the white level was 220.4079 nits with a black threshold of .0479 nit and a contrast ratio of 4598.8:1. Setting the auto iris to high speed and closing the manual iris down to -8 resulted in 156.8391 nits peak, .0042 nit black, and a contrast ratio of 37,013.7:1. This is nearly the same performance I see from my reference Anthem LTX-500.
The maximum output I measured with the bulb on High, manual iris fully open, and the auto-iris off was 300.879 nits with .0649 nit black and 4635:1 contrast.
In HDR mode (Digital Cinema), I set the bulb to Medium brightness with the manual iris fully open and the auto-iris off. The peak output was 117.1736 nits white with .0216 nit black and 5429.5:1 contrast. The brightness reduction is due to the filter required for the DCI-P3 color gamut. Turning the auto iris on in HDR mode renders the black level too low to measure.
- Mode Natural
- Brightness 50
- Contrast 50
- Color Sat 50
- Tint 50
- Sharpness 5, 5, 5
- Color Temp Custom
- Offset R 50
- Offset G 48
- Offset B 52
- Gain R 50
- Gain G 51
- Gain B 50
- Gamma -2
- Set the bulb and manual iris to taste
- Auto-iris high speed delivers the best possible contrast
- Mode Digital Cinema
- Brightness 50
- Contrast 50
- Color Sat 50
- Tint 50
- Sharpness 5, 5, 5
- Color Temp 8
- Skin Tone 3
- Offsets unchanged
- Gain R 60
- Gain G 58
- Gain B 40
- HDR4 worked for me but your mileage may vary
The EPSON HOME CINEMA 5050UB easily matches performance with high-end projectors costing two and three times more. For $3000, it’s one of the best projector values available today.
- Stunning picture
- Supreme tweakability
- Truly useful HDR adjustments
- Excellent contrast and color accuracy
- Automatic switching of image modes between SDR and HDR
I might be tempted to say that the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is an ideal projector for budget theaters and media rooms based on its tremendous bang-for-the buck. At $3000, it costs less than a high-end TV while delivering equal or better performance and enough light to throw a 300” diagonal image. But that would be limiting its appeal. Its performance is so good that I’d recommend it for high-end theaters without hesitation. Not only can it cover a large screen, it delivers superb HDR, a razor-sharp picture, and reference-level accuracy.
Tweakers will delight at its comprehensive set of image controls and if you have the means, you can take its accuracy from excellent to near-perfect with relative ease. I was especially impressed with its ability to tailor an HDR image to suit different content, screens, and room environments. This feature is crucial to making the most of the latest imaging technology. And its near-100% coverage of DCI-P3 is just icing on the cake.
I’ve been using the same Anthem LTX-500 LCoS projector for 10 years now. Only a couple of other displays have challenged it in that time. The Home Cinema 5050UB is now on that list. It is one of the best projectors I’ve ever reviewed and receives my highest recommendation.