Of course, the VW85 depends on an auto iris to achieve its deepest black levels, whereas the JVC models can achieve theirs ‘natively’, with no need for an auto iris. But I have to say that the new Advanced Iris 3 system Sony has implemented on its latest SXRD models really is impressive, hugely reducing the instances of obvious brightness ‘jumps’ compared with the VW80.
In fact, the only times I noticed any instability in the picture were while watching one or two animated scenes, or, oddly, while playing FIFA 10 on the Xbox 360, during which the pitch’s colour tone seemed to momentarily skip around from time to time.
It’s important to add here, too, that the dynamic iris system doesn’t lead to as much crushing of dark areas as I would have expected based on previous SXRD machines. Yes, under really extreme conditions, such as a shot of a star field, JVC’s D-ILA models can produce more and brighter stars against the blackness of space than the VW85. But it’s a much more marginal difference than it ever has been before.
Moving on to the VW85’s colours, they are both stable and vibrant, as well as containing no obvious noise. I would recommend that you spend a little time fine-tuning the colour palette, as it seemed a little yellow in tone for my tastes using any of the from-the-box presets. But make no mistake about it: unlike the VW80, the VW85 really can produce a startlingly cinematic colour palette when set up right.
All this, and I haven’t yet mentioned what became, by the time I’d finished with the VW85, my single favourite thing about its pictures: their phenomenal sharpness.
I’ve long found this to be one of SXRD’s most potent strengths, but the VW85 shifts up yet another gear, delivering levels of detail and clarity so acute they can actually inject new life into film sequences I’ve watched literally dozens of times before.
For instance, at the end of the ”Casino Royale” opening credit sequence, a bunch of animated bank notes explode around Bond as he walks toward the camera. This, of course, I’ve noticed before. But the VW85’s fine detailing is such that for the first time it hit me right between the eyes that these were all £10 notes, with every last detail of the numbers and pictures on your average tenner looking stunningly clear.