We know that camera clubs have different needs to the ordinary user, with the image quality and clarity of digital projectors paramount for digital photographers looking to show off their images in the best light. Spending club funds for a major purchase and meeting the expectations of fellow club members can be quite a responsibility.
Projectorpoint has been in business for over 15 years and during that time we have supplied hundreds of projectors to camera clubs, making us ideally placed to help you choose the best digital projector for your club. We also offer demonstrations and advice post-purchase for those who need on-going support.
But if you’re just starting to research your requirements, read on for our key points to consider when buying a projector for your camera club.
You may also like…
- Explainer – Projector Resolution
- Explainer – Projector Brightness
- Explainer – What’s the best screen size?
- Shop Camera Club Projectors
First up, if you want to do your photos justice, they need to be projected as true to the original colours as possible. There is still a significant difference between projectors when comparing colour accuracy and the three main projection technologies (DLP, LCD and LCoS) render colours in completely different ways.
- DLP is traditionally strong on contrast but weaker at displaying certain colours, such as yellow, accurately.
- LCD is generally better at colour accuracy, but only a handful of LCD projectors produce high contrast at a level to rival DLP, and those projectors tend to be more marketed towards home cinema than photography. They are also bulkier and more expensive than high contrast DLP models.
- LCoS is a hybrid of DLP and LCD so you get the best of both worlds with regards to colour and contrast but you will also be paying the most. The Canon XEED range of projectors use LCoS display technology and if your budget allows for one of these models you won’t be disappointed with the results.
However, colour accuracy in projectors is about more than just the technology that powers the projector. Within each digital projector, specifically designed colour systems can transform colour in projection, potentially elevating cheaper purchases above their pricier counterparts.
sRGB is our minimum recommended standard. Rec.709 or 2020 both offer a better colour gamut, but it’s important to not be completely dependent on a whether a projector’s spec sheet ticks these standards boxes on paper to determine how it performs in real life.
For example, specific BenQ projectors are designed with built-in BenQ-exclusive CinematicColor Technology, which produces cinema-accurate colours and delivers the ultra-wide DCI-P3 colour gamut. This standard surpasses the Rec.709 colour standard featured in many other projectors, enhancing the final image to deliver an excellent picture.
From our experience, it’s the combination of optical technology, brightness and colour performance that delivers the best results. Give us a call to discuss our latest in-house tests and get our expert recommendations.
Contrast is another major factor when deciding what projector you need for your camera club. It is measured as a ‘contrast ratio’, e.g. 2000:1. This tells you the difference in brightness between a ‘fully on’ pixel and a ‘fully off’ pixel. For instance, on a projector with a 2000:1 contrast ratio, and (for simplicity’s sake) a 2000 lumen brightness rating, ‘fully off’ pixels would actually be 1 lumen in brightness.
You may be wondering why a “fully off” pixel has any brightness at all. Unfortunately, there is some “leaking” of light with all digital projectors which means black is not actually pitch black. Nevertheless, in a camera club environment, it’s worth choosing a projector with the highest contrast ratio possible in order to do justice to your photos.
High contrast ratios on a projector will increase the perception of depth in the image and subtle colour variations will show up more clearly, making textures more visible too. It also means that darker photos don’t look washed out, so you’ll be able to showcase a wider variety of your club’s work.
It’s worth noting that contrast ratios are a highly argued point in projector technical circles and the specification doesn’t always tell the true story. Sure, higher is normally better, but without a perfectly dark room with zero ambient light, it’s rare that you’ll ever really see the projector’s true performance.
Colour accuracy and the overall aesthetic of each image are also affected by a projector’s resolution. When looking through the specifications of projectors available at Projectorpoint, you’ll notice they’re generally classified as having XGA, WXGA, 1080p, WUXGA or 4K resolution. The resolution you opt for determines how many pixels the projector can display at any one time, which in turn affects the clarity and detail of the image.
WUXGA resolution is superior to 1080p resolution. However, 1080p is superior to WXGA resolution, which in turn is superior to XGA. 4K UHD resolution is considered top of the pile.
WUXGA resolution is superior to 1080p resolution which is superior to WXGA resolution which in turn is superior to XGA. Of course, this also means it’s more expensive.
For photographic work, opt for 4K UHD if your budget allows, but try not to go below 1080 Full HD. WUXGA is the next step up where budget allows, as this gives you a higher resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels.
4K UHD projectors deliver the highest resolution of 3840 x 2160, which is the equivalent of 8.3 megapixels. Even at this level of resolution, the projector is unlikely to match the resolution of many of the images taken by your camera club members. But remember projectors make use of upscaling technology so you’ll still see a fantastic image on the screen.
In the past, the recommendation from the PAGB was to opt for SXGA+ which delivered a resolution of 1400×1050. However, it’s no longer possible to get hold of this as a native resolution.
If your camera club is thinking of entering photographs into PAGB competitions, then it’s worth noting that they now state the maximum projection size for all of their events is 1600 x 1200. If you want an accurate replication of this on your own club projector, you need to be looking at a WUXGA (1920×1200) resolution projector or above to get the 1200 vertical pixels required to display this natively.
To further enhance the quality of the picture shown, where possible try and match the native resolution and aspect ratio of your source (whether you’re using a camera directly, PC or a laptop) to that of your projector to avoid image distortion.
Furthermore, if your content is a mixture of 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratios, then we would suggest selecting a projector with the highest possible resolution to avoid the projector having to make compromises when it displays the source image across a limited amount of pixel real estate.
Read our full Guide to Projector Resolution
If you only project in darkened surroundings then brightness is not such an important factor when selecting the right projector for displaying photographs. However, in some cases, you may need to use your projector in different environments where you can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to control the ambient light in the room. If this is the case, then it’s worth considering the brightness of the projector you buy so that you have the option of displaying images in all environments.
Projector brightness is measured in ANSI lumens. Projectors suitable for photographic work are typically rated from 2,500 lumens to 4,500 lumens. However, if you have very low ambient light you can save money by choosing a projector with a lower ANSI lumens rating. As a guide, 2,000 lumens will generally be sufficient if you can keep the room dark.
If you can’t control the ambient light, however, opt for high brightness, high contrast projector. In really bright conditions, we would recommend you opt for a projector over 6,000 lumens otherwise your photographs are going to look washed out.
The brightness of a projector also affects the contrast observed as the brightest whites (and colour range) are brighter with high-lumen outputs. The darkest blacks are limited to the ambient conditions in the room – and not the projector’s black-pixel (or fully-off) projection.
Read our full Guide to Projector Brightness.
Keystone Correction and Lens Shift
Nearly all of the projectors at Projectorpoint have a vertical keystone facility built-in. “Keystoning” is the name given to the effect on the projected image when the projector sits below or above the centre of the screen. Keystone correction counteracts the effect of this positioning by digitally compressing the image at the bottom or top, resulting in a more rectangular image.
Some projectors feature vertical and horizontal keystone correction while others have the ability to individually adjust one or more of the corners of the image. When digital keystone correction is applied there is always a reduction in the quality of the image, as the image is spanning less of the actual pixels on the panel of the projector. As such we would always recommend avoiding the use of keystone correction where possible or at least keeping it to an absolute minimum where photography is concerned.
To completely avoid any reduction in the quality you are better off looking for a projector with a lens shift feature. Lens shift allows you to move the optics of the projector so the whole image moves up or down and the image is still projected using all of the available pixels. As it’s an optical adjustment rather than a digital adjustment there is no loss in quality, unless you use the lens shift correction at its extremities.
Lastly, don’t forget to think about how you and your camera club members are going to connect to the projector on a practical level. Does your club have a PC or laptop setup for you to share photographs from? Many digital photo enthusiasts will use the VGA output from this PC to connect to the projector and are likely to be satisfied with the results. However, you can take advantage of digital connections such as DVI and HDMI to get even sharper images. As you look through the projectors sold by Projectorpoint you’ll spot that just about all of our products come with the following essential connections:
1 x HDMI
1 x VGA
If you are going for HDMI, make sure you buy an up to date HDMI cable that’s categorised as HDMI 2.0 to ensure it can carry a high definition or even 4K UHD image from your source to your projector. Anything less than this and some of the image quality will be lost along the way; not something you want to risk if you’ve invested in top quality camera equipment and a 4K UHD projector.
Our Guide to Cables and Connections can help explain what connection is best for displaying your content.
If it’s just not convenient or possible to trail long wires from your PC or another input source to the projector, then you might also want to consider wireless projectors as an alternative.
Is this something that could work in your set up? Our Guide to Wireless Projectors could help you decide.