There is a lot of confusion about this topic on the forums so I thought I would write a separate article to explain what is happening.
State of Affairs
Epson introduced 3x pixel shift on the Epson TW9400 and UB5050 / UB6050 models with the 1.03 firmware. This has been confirmed by people with EU, AU and US units.
How Did Epson Achieve This?
The pixel shifting device in the current line is a piece of glass that responds to electrical changes. Epson created a completely separate processor for the pixel shifting on the TW9400 / UB5050 / UB6050 which was one of the major changes from the previous 9300 / 5040 / 6040 models. They said it was to control the pixel shifting hardware much more quickly and precisely to be able to reduce the blur and create a sharper image. The new processor basically separated the pixel-shifting function from the main processing unit. However, at the time I was thinking this was quite an overkill for simply making pixel shifting more precise.
The current pixel shifting hardware can only shift the pixels diagonally. So for Epson to be able to flash the panels 3x, they had to swing the 2 existing panel positions to their extremes – more than previously – and then stop in the middle between the two positions for a third flash. This is what the following images also confirm. When the unit is playing at 24hz, you should see the diagonal lines across the screen with almost no gap in-between the pixels. When the unit is playing back at 60Hz, the pixels appear diagonal but there is more space in-between the pixel positions.
The below quick brown fox patten was rendered to 8bit 4K video at 24hz and at 60hz. If you observe the lines under the text, you can see that they appear distinct as it is on the original 4K pattern. However, when played back at 60hz, the lines merge as there isn’t enough resolution to display the full pattern. Additionally, observe the resolution of the words brown and fox. Please note that the photographs were taken at the same distance from the screen and were both in focus. What you see below is what could be seen on the screen.
How to Get the Most Out of It?
The change only applies to 23.97hz / 24hz / 30hz content. It will not work for 59.98Hz or 60Hz content. This limitation is likely due to the image processing speed as opposed to the pixel shifting hardware. After all, processing 30 x 3 = 90 images a second. 60 x 2 = 120 images a second, so 3x flash fits within the processing power available for image processing. However, upping image processing from 120 images a second to 60 x 3 = 180 images a second is likely asking too much of the existing hardware.
To ensure you are able to take full advance of this change, you also need to be mindful of the following:
- You must be on firmware 1.03 or later
- It is best to disable panel alignment as it is a digital correction on these Epsons and can reduce the resolution of 1 or 2 of the chroma channels. The only exception to this is if you have very bad panel alignment issues. In that case, it is best to correct panel alignment in whole pixel increments (not in scope of this article on how to do that).
- Ensure you have great focus on the projector and it is best to re-check focus after a 10min warm up. If need be, focus the projector with no signal or with 1080p and pixel shifting disabled.
- Ensure you have uniform focus across the whole panel. If need be, put up a test image.
- Feed the projector a high quality 4K source from a great quality player – Panasonic UHD Blu Ray players are best in terms of chroma upsampling and will result in an ideal image. Yes, they are even better than the higher priced Oppo! However, other players will also be great, but may not extract the very best results from this projector. However, if you have the Oppo or a Sony, there’s no need to change players just for this. The change will be visible with other sources also.
Please note that some people reported that their US region projector shipped with firmware 1.04 from the factory and it didn’t seem to have the 3x pixel shift. I could not confirm if this was user fault or an issue with the unit. It COULD be possible that the firmware from the factory and the one on the website are different – even if they both report 1.04 as the version number.