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Guide to Projector Brightness


When selecting from the huge range of projectors available here at Projectorpoint you might be wondering if brighter is better?

Brightness isn’t the only factor affecting image quality, you’ve got projector resolution, contrast, video processing rate and more to consider. But brightness is one of the things you usually end up paying more for, so it's certainly worth understanding it to make the right decision. We’ve put together a guide to help you establish the level of projector lumens that is right for your requirements, and for your budget.
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Projector brightness basics


We’ve put together some basic facts to help you understand how projector brightness really works.

Lumens


Brightness is measured in ANSI lumens. ANSI is the American National Standards Institute, who came up with a way of measuring projected brightness. Unfortunately, however, the nice people at ANSI left a little room for "scientific interpretation" when this standard was launched.

As such, a 3,000 lumen projector from one manufacturer isn't always as bright as a 3,000 lumen projector from another, so don't take these measurements as absolute. Just going by the numbers is not always the truth of the matter – look out for “colour brightness” measures on specifications. This measure goes beyond just the ANSI Lumen standard white light testing and we’re guessing that you’re not just projecting a white screen!

Brightness Affects Blacks and Colours

Another basic but important point to note is that a projector cannot make the surface it projects on to any darker. Consequently, the brightness (or lack of) that you see on a screen when the projector has a 100% black picture input is the darkest black you could possibly achieve from a projector.

So chances are that unless you've blacked out the room, the surface of the screen won't actually look black. You’re more likely to achieve some a shade of grey, depending on how much natural or artificial light is in the room. When using a very high-lumen bright projector the grey you see projected "feels like" black, because it's so far removed from the contrasting white light. This effect works relatively well when you've got a lot of bright colour in the image you're projecting, but not so well if you're projecting something nuanced or dark.

This is one reason why in the early days of PowerPoint presentations so many people used yellow text on a blue background. Projectors weren't particularly bright, so it made sense to use two bright colours with good contrast against each other.

Home Cinema Projectors

Now we’ve covered the basics it’s time to explore the impact that varying levels of brightness can have in different environments.

In all honesty, serious home cinema users might as well stop comparing brightness and instead direct their attention towards choosing a good projector screen , reducing ambient light and choosing a projector with high contrast and good video processing than worrying about brightness.
More recently some of the most renowned home cinema projector manufacturers are beginning to take projector lumens into account when creating their next best seller.
In the past, few manufacturers bothered to create home cinema projectors with a brightness rating of over 2,000 ANSI lumens. But they’re now creeping up over 3,000 as the manufacturers start to realise there is a casual projector market where the projectors are being used in far-from- perfect ambient conditions..

These developments make brightness worth considering if you’re going to be using your projector for something other than just films. But seriously, if cinema is all you’re looking at, then divert your attention on the right projector screen purchase and get serious about blocking out all the ambient light. Blackout curtains anyone?

Office Projectors

It’s a different story when it comes to office projectors. Brightness can mean the difference between indecipherable documents and a successful presentation that engages the whole room. Every step up in terms of brightness can make a significant difference in all corporate settings, but for larger meeting rooms and office settings users should ensure brightness levels take into account the size of the room itself and the projected image. Just like a torch, the further away the projector from the screen, the larger the image – but this also makes it less bright. This works on the inverse square law of physics, double the distance is a quarter of the brightness – so make sure that you consider this.
Projectorpoint stocks a huge range of office projectors that can cater for just about any environment, with brightness levels up to 9,000 ANSI Lumens and beyond. At this level of brightness, a projector will be capable of delivering in even the largest of corporate environments including large meeting rooms, conference rooms and even auditoriums.

Choosing the right brightness

Still not sure? There are three factors you need to consider when choosing the brightness that’s right for you:

Ambient Light

This is the greatest consideration. If you're on the move or use a projector across a number of meeting rooms and don't know what level of ambient light you're likely to encounter when you set up your projector, opt for a high brightness projector (4,000 ANSI lumens or more).

Screen Size

The bigger the image you're projecting, the less concentrated your projector's brightness is going to be on each square inch of the screen. An average screen size is about 200cm wide, but if you start going bigger than that you should consider upping your brightness accordingly.

Content

If you're projecting detailed, intricate creative work then it's important that everyone can see the details, so buying a high brightness projector is worth the investment. However, if you're just projecting large, bold words with strong contrast then projector lumens may not be a priority.

The bottom line is that projector lumens aren’t the only thing that will have an impact on the end result of the brightness of the image. Just going by the numbers isn’t always the real truth of the matter too – look out for “colour brightness” measures on specifications. This measure goes beyond just the ANSI Lumen standard white light testing.

In some cases, you can achieve better results by cutting out ambient light and purchasing a high quality projector screen rather than just paying for more projector lumens.

Take a look at our range of projector screens to discover why a move away from walls could be the key to transforming your viewing.

Need some help?

We hope this guide has given you a clear understanding of projector brightness and the factors that need to be considered. If however you still need some help in chooisng the right projector for your environment or needs simply give us a call or send us an email to discuss your requirments with our experts.