If you - or more likely, a professional installer - do want to fine tune pictures to the nth degree, though, the AT5000 has a wealth of colour, gamma and white balance facilities onboard. The interfaces for using some of these features are rather non-standard and complicated, though, so they really aren’t for the faint-hearted.
Panasonic has even introduced unprecedented flexibility to its 3D playback. For instance, you can adjust the individual colour settings for each ‘side’ or eye of a 3D image, in recognition of the fact that some 3D camera rigs don’t manage identical colour calibrations for both their lenses. There’s also a tool for adjusting the 3D image’s parallax settings to reduce or increase the 3D depth effect - handy if you’re one of those people who routinely feel tired when watching ‘normal’ 3D parallax settings.
One last feature of the AT5000 that film enthusiasts should celebrate at such an affordable market level is its ‘lens memory’ function, which allows you to set up and store separate image and lens settings for 2.35:1 anamorphic and 1.85:1-ratio films. Though please note that this feature does not work for 3D playback.
Although its 3D playback is ostensibly the AT5000’s headline feature, we actually started our tests with 2D material, since this is still likely to take up most of your viewing time. And we were frankly amazed by the quality of what we saw.
The optical changes Panasonic has introduced with an eye to 3D actually have a profound impact on its 2D images, giving them a level of dynamism, colour intensity and contrast that’s unprecedented on any LCD projector we’ve seen to date.
Images are so bright, for instance, even using the Cinema modes, that in a dark room they almost slap you in the face. And they’re even bright enough to be enjoyed with a little ambient light around - though obviously we would never recommend this.
Crucially, though, despite the uncanny brightness the projector also delivers an outstanding black level response, with completely credible, greyness-free black colours that also happen to look impressively stable even with the dynamic iris switched on. That said, should you prefer to turn the dynamic iris off, the projector’s native black level response is still superb.
More proof of just how good the AT5000’s native contrast performance is can be seen in its terrific greyscale performance, and the amount of subtle detailing you can make out in even the image’s darkest corners.
Colours, meanwhile, take full advantage of the high brightness, red-pushing lamp to look both stunningly vibrant and punchy, but also subtle when it comes to blends and expansive when it comes to the range of colours on show. Tones also look entirely natural after calibration or even when using the Rec 709 preset, but given that it’s our policy never to dictate to any reader exactly how we think they should watch their beloved new AV purchase, we were also very appreciative of just how diverse the AT5000 can go with its various colour options.
Yet more good news concerns the sharpness of the AT5000’s rendition of HD material. On our 100in test screen even the tiniest details of the finest Blu-ray transfer appeared safe, sound and adorably clearly. Yet as more proof of just how good the AT5000’s native optics are, this flawless resolution looks completely natural, with no sign of the excessive grain or harsh-looking lines that might have suggested that the sharpness is being ‘forced’ or conjured up by sneaky processing.