Review of the Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 4K Pro-UHD Laser Projector

AT THE END OF THE DAY

The Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 is the company’s first home theater projector to display actual 4K resolution on the screen, but that’s only one of the many features that make it worth its premium price.

PROS 

  • Provides a screen resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels.
  • Laser light source with a brightness of 2,700 lumens that is expected to last the life of the projector
  • HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG HDR are all supported.
  • For a laser model, good color fidelity, contrast, and shadow detail, as well as dark blacks
  • Image height may be easily maintained for various aspect ratios.
  • No rainbow artifacts are guaranteed with the three-chip LCD architecture

CONS

  • Expensive
  • There is no support for 3D

EPSON PRO CINEMA LS12000 4K PRO-UHD LASER PROJECTOR SPECS

Engine TypeLCD
Rated Brightness2700 ANSI lumens
Native Resolution3840 by 2160 using Epson’s 4K Pro-UHD technology
Maximum Resolution4096 by 2160 @ 120Hz
Inputs and InterfacesHDMI 2.1 (HDCP 2.3), HDMI (eARC)
Dimensions (HWD)7.6 by 20.5 by 17.6 inches
Weight28 lbs
WarrantyThree years

To say the Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 4K Pro-UHD Laser Projector is the top dog in the Epson home theater kennel is an understatement. The LS12000 is the first Epson projector to put the 3,840-by-2,160-pixel resolution on the screen, in addition to the many features that Epson Pro Cinema projectors are known for (such as a significant lens shift to adjust image position and lens memory to store and retrieve multiple zoom and shift settings easily). It’s also the first to offer HDR10+ and HDR10 and HLG HDR, with a 20,000-hour rated lifetime laser light source. The laser source produces a dark black level similar to lamp-based projectors. Even at $4,999, it’s an excellent value and a lock for our Editors’ Choice award for a 4K home theater projector.

The Key Differentiator: True 4K Resolution

Suppose you’re familiar with the 4K Pro-UHD version seen in other Epson models such as the EpiqVision Ultra LS500 4K and the Pro Cinema 4050. In that case, you’ll know that it employs three 1080p LCD chips and pixel-shifting technology to display only half as many pixels as a complete 4K image. You’re probably also aware that, at standard viewing distances, there’s little to no discernible difference in resolution between their pictures and true 4K ones, partly due to human visual acuity limitations and partly due to other factors like contrast and lens quality influencing your ability to resolve detail.

The 4K Pro-UHD of the Pro Cinema LS12000 also relies on pixel shifting, but instead of two sets of slightly shifted 1,920-by-1,080-pixel images for each frame, it projects four groups to show a full 4K matrix. In addition, like Epson’s previous pixel-shifting models, it comes with a high-quality glass lens (with 15 elements in this case) and video processing that enhances the level of detail shown. So, while the LS500 and 4050 are indistinguishable from genuine 4K at average viewing distances, I was able to see details that I’ve never seen with any 4K DLP-based projector that uses TI’s pixel-shifting when standing one to two feet from the screen with the LS12000. You won’t know the difference between sofa and armchair distance unless your eyesight is more excellent than 20/20, but it exists. Another advantage of the LS12000 over single-chip DLP devices is this: Because of its three-chip design, it cannot produce rainbow artifacts, which are flashes of red, green, and blue that are visible to some but unpleasant to others.

Features of a First-Class Setup

An extensive zoom range (2.1x), significant vertical and horizontal lens shifts that let you move the image without moving the projector, and a memory that stores up to 10 combinations of zoom, shift, and focus settings for easy retrieval are all features that the Pro Cinema LS12000 shares with other Epson projectors.

The horizontal shift may move the image about half a screen width (47.1%) left or right, while the vertical shift can move it nearly the whole screen height (96.3%) up or down, starting from the centered position. The combination allows you to put the projector wherever in the room, from a low shelf in the rear to an inverted ceiling mount, centered or offset to one side. The settings are motorized, and the remote control allows for precise changes.

Pro Cinema LS12000 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projector

These powered lens settings do more than merely simplify setup, as we detailed in greater detail in our Epson Pro Cinema 4050 review. You can keep the same image height for content with varied aspect ratios in a constant image height (CIH) setup because you can save and retrieve combinations with a single command. This is most commonly used in conjunction with a Cinemascope (2.35:1 or 2.4:1) screen in a home theater to flip between 16:9, 2.35:1, and 2.4:1 material. It’s also worth noting that, unlike the 4050, the LS12000 allows you to use an external (and expensive) anamorphic lens to create a CIH setup if you like.

This Epson is enormous and hefty, weighing 28 pounds, and measures 7.6 by 20.5 by 17.6 inches, as you’d expect from a 4K projector with a laser-phosphor light source and a lens mechanism that’s heavy-duty enough to maintain exact alignment during the unit’s lifetime (HWD).

The LS12000’s brightness rating of 2,700 lumens makes it highly bright for a home theater projector, especially one equipped with Epson’s UltraBlack technology, which produces exceptionally dark black levels. Dark blacks are necessary for optimum image quality in a dark room. Still, they are essentially unimportant in ambient light, which tends to wash out black levels and obscure the difference between projectors that do and don’t offer them.

According to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), 2,700 lumens are bright enough for a 240-inch, 1.0-gain screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio in a dark room. At the same time, HDR viewing recommendations would reduce the screen size to 150 to 200 inches. The default 75 percent brightness setting was enough to light up a 130-inch screen in a dark room nicely for both SDR and HDR viewing in my tests utilizing the projector’s Bright Cinema mode.

The LS12000 lacks an audio system and inbuilt speakers, as do most projectors designed for home theater use. It does, however, provide eARC on one HDMI connector, allowing you to add external audio.

After HDR tweaking, a great-looking image

The Pro Cinema flagship has five predetermined picture settings for both SDR and HDR input. The dynamic model was slightly green-shifted in SDR images, although not nearly as much as other projectors’ brightest modes. The majority of viewers would find it acceptable. The four different methods had good enough color accuracy that few, if any, people would be able to distinguish which one was the best without using measurement or a reference image. All modes did well in terms of dark level, contrast, and impression of three-dimensionality. Still, I chose Bright Cinema because it scored slightly higher overall, especially in comparison.

Pro Cinema LS12000 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projector

I utilized numerous movies on 4K HDR10 discs for HDR input. Again, Bright Cinema was my preferred mode, but all five left the image far too dark for comfortable viewing at the default settings. Because of the limits of HDR10, this is a common issue with HDR projectors. Bright scenes appeared suitable with wonderfully saturated color with a bit of adjusting. At the same time, dark situations gave adequately dark blacks and good contrast, shadow detail, and three-dimensionality, as well as all the visual impact I expect from the scenes in our test suite.

The LS12000 offers frame interpolation (FI) for smoothing motion utilizing either 1080p or 4K input, unlike older 4K Pro-UHD models. Many people dislike using FI for movies because it adds a digital video effect (sometimes known as the “soap opera effect”) that transforms filmed material into live-action video. It can, however, improve the look of live and recorded media, from sports to concerts. To keep the black level stunningly dark, try experimenting with the auto-iris setting, which adjusts the iris based on the content of individual scenes.

Pro Cinema LS12000 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projector

The Pro Cinema LS12000 has a lower latency for 4K input than most projectors, making it ideal for gaming. I measured it at 19.3ms for 4K input at 60Hz with a Leo Bodnar lag-test meter, which is sufficient for everyone except the most dedicated players. I also tested it at 38.5 milliseconds for 1080p/60Hz and 29.1 milliseconds for 1080p/120Hz. Still, Epson claims the total latency is the same for 1080p and 4K—the more excellent reading is due to the interaction between Pro-approach UHDs to writing the image on the screen and how the meter measures the lag. It’s worth noting that the projector doesn’t support 3D.

Traditional Home Theater’s Top Tier

The Epson Pro Cinema LS12000 is best used in a typical home theater with completely regulated lighting, dark walls to reduce screen reflections, and a sufficiently wide screen to make use of its high brightness. If you can afford it, its intelligence and short 4K lag time make it a tempting alternative for family-room home entertainment or a TV replacement, but using it in ambient light would mainly waste the benefits of its UltraBlack technology and strong contrast. Consider the Epson Pro Cinema 4050 and ultra-short-throw (UST) models like the Epson EpiqVision Ultra LS500, the BenQ V7050i, and the Optoma Cinemax P2, which are commonly promoted as TV replacements if you’re searching for a projector for your living room.

Pro Cinema LS12000 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projector

The LS12000 ticks all the right boxes in terms of image quality and functionality for traditional and deluxe home theaters. While HDR settings needed changing, I had no issues after doing so. If you’re spending this much for a projector, you should at the very least consider investing a few hundred dollars in professional calibration. Despite its lack of calibration, the Pro Cinema LS12000 excels in image quality and features, earning it an Editors’ Choice award for home theater at any price point.


Pro Cinema LS12000 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projector

Pro Cinema LS12000 4K PRO-UHD Laser Projector


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