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Unquestionably the biggest single appeal of the C3X Lumis to both custom installers and end users, though, is its truly stunning picture quality. Images look so good in so many ways, in fact, that I was initially bewildered as to where to start trying to dissect them.
A little reflection, however, made it pretty clear that the main thing that sets the C3X Lumis apart from the usual much cheaper projector fare we come across is the remarkable way it combines extreme brightness with superb black level response.
The extreme brightness finds pictures exploding off the screen with almost terrifying vibrancy, especially if you use the maximum 280W lamp output option. This brightness means the C3X Lumis is capable of driving a really large screen; being watchable in ambient light; and giving you an excuse for wearing sunglasses indoors! But far more important for me than the way the extreme lamp power makes bright scenes 'pop' is the way it joins forces with the projector’s remarkably inky black level response to produce an unprecedented (in my experience) level of insight, subtle detailing and image depth during dark scenes.
It might sound odd to be praising a projector’s brightness while talking about dark scenes. Especially against a backdrop where I’m often suspicious of really bright projectors, which at less elevated parts of the projector marketplace tend to deliver their brightness at the expense of black level response.
But here it’s the C3X Lumis’ ability to combine extreme brightness and gorgeously rich black levels within the same frame - with all the insight and extra detail this leads to - that most defines its position as a true premium projector. As well as making it significantly superior to SIM2’s also-outstanding MICO 50 LED projector.
The only word of caution I’d raise here is that the C3X Lumis’ brightness is so extreme that you need to accommodate it in other aspects of your viewing room. In other words, your installer needs to take care to match it with a screen that keeps the brightness focussed rather than bouncing it all over your room, otherwise you’ll end up watching films through ambient light created by the image itself. Following on from this, I’d recommend installing your C3X Lumis in a room that doesn’t feature bright white and thus reflective walls. Though if this isn’t possible, then the option of reducing the lamp output will prove helpful.
Running a close second to contrast in the C3X Lumis’ ‘reasons it’s worth £26k’ column is its colour response. Here again the key word is insight, as the projector unveils colour tone subtleties in favourite Blu-ray discs and even Sky HD movie recordings that I’ve seldom if ever noted before on any projectors other than, perhaps, SIM2’s old C3X 1080.
This colour insight seems partly down to the video processing engine and ALPHAPATH technology at the C3X Lumis’ heart, but also partly down to the efforts of the extreme colour management engine noted earlier. For after calibration, not only are colour blends and tonal shifts shown with immaculate finesse, the projector’s colour palette looks both expansive and totally, effortlessly natural too. To put this in more dramatic terms, the C3X Lumis gives me the strongest sense of image authenticity that I’ve ever experienced outside a commercial digital cinema installation.