Smart Ways To Get The Best Picture Using A Projector
Projectors are great; you can go one step better than a flat-screen television and create a cinematic feel in your house in any room that has available wall space. But lumens matter; the more your projector can produce the brighter the image will be.
Do more lumens mean better projector?
‘What are the lumens are lumens?’ I hear you cry. They are simply the way we measure the brightness of artificial light – period. Natural daylight is the enemy of lumens, hence why movie theaters are usually completely dark.
When it comes to the best projectors, lumens describe how bright the light coming from the projector lamp is, and how well your image will be displayed on a screen. The biggest competing factor here is ambient light. Any light from the room you are in will alter the image coming out of the projector. This is why movie theaters are generally pitch black. To give you an idea of how many lumens are in various light sources with which we are familiar, consider the following:
- A candle = 14 lumens
- A 100-watt lightbulb = 1600 lumens
- The sunset = 400 lumens
- An office with florescent lighting = 400 lumens
- The lighting on a movie set = 1000 lumens
- A sunny day = about 100,000 lumens
- A video projector = 500 lumens to 10,000 lumens
So lumens does matter; the greater the lumens the less ambient light matters, and the further away you can place the screen. The light source of a projector is the lamp’s bulb. It is very important that the bulb is not too old because its brightness, unfortunately, fades over time. Depending on how often you use it you may need to replace the projector’s bulb after only a few years.
How many lumens do I need for an outdoor projector?
If you’re wanting to show movies or home videos outdoors then you’ll need a fairly powerful bulb with enough lumens to fend off significant ambient light, unless it’s a pitch-black night. Unlike with indoor usage you’ll also need to calculate how large space you’re trying to project on to. Here is a guide as to how many lumens you’ll need for the desired space:
Minimum Lumen Needed
Ideal Lumens Needed
You might also need to consider the specific kind of material you’re hoping to project your movie on to. If you can, purchase an outdoor projector screen. Decide on whether you want a stand-mounted screen or one with support anchors. You can even hang a screen from trees or from your garden fence. It’s possible to project on to a wall but judge for yourself how smooth it is, and how distinct and sharp a focus you want to achieve for your movie or video.
Most of the time you care for the environment; however, for this one-off screening it’s best to switch off the ‘eco-mode’ function on your projector; this will make it brighter and combat the inevitable competition of ambient light from a variety of sources. Obviously the darker it is the better, but you might want to show something in the middle of the day, or to children who are too young to stay up late. Some sort of Gazebo or canopy setting might be a sensible option in order to get the best of both worlds; bright lumens and minimal ambient light distraction.
Is DLP or LCD better for projectors?
DLP – Digital Light Processing – is a technology that was developed by Texas Instruments back in the 1990s. It combines a light with a projection lens, together with mirrors (two million microscopic mirrors in all!) on a DLP chip which can tilt toward or away from the light, rendering the pixel white or black. A rotating color wheel enables a total of 16.7 million shades of color to create lifelike pictures.
LCD goes back to the 1980s and was developed by Epson. It works by creating colors from white light via a 3-chip Liquid Crystal Display (3LCD). It splits white light into primary colors (red, green, blue) by using a dichroic filter and dichroic mirrors, which in turn further split colors down into even more varieties, towards specific LCD panels.
DLP is often regarded as having a higher contrast than LCD. Its optics are sealed so dust will not interfere with the quality. It tends to be less expensive, too. However, you do sometimes get a ‘rainbow’ effect whereby a sudden flash of multi-colored light interferes with the integrity of the picture. LCD tends to retain richer, more accurate colors.
On the other hand, projectors that use LCD tend to have a larger chassis, and you can get panel degradation over time. DLP might last longer because it doesn’t use this unique panel system.
Finally, don’t forget the basics:
Ensure that your lens is clean; adjust the projector’s focus so that it is as sharp as it can be, set your computer or video’s output resolution to ‘native’ resolution; consider using a smaller screen size; try to find the proverbial ‘sweet spot’ of your lens so that it’s not over or under-reaching.
Enjoy the experience, and remind yourself of the bad old days when you would huddle around a small tv or laptop screen!