How Photographers Choose The Right Projector To Display Their Work

Last Updated December 20,2018

Professional and hobbyist photographers often show their work in exhibitions and art galleries. Most of them employ a projector for showcasing their work as it can project large images which are ideal for audiences consisting of many people as well as auditoriums. They are also easy to carry for photographers who travel often for exhibiting their artwork.

There is a wide variety of projectors available in the market. Some of them are basic models designed for regular consumers while others are designed for professionals. Buying the right projector is more important for photographers. They need a projector that does full justice to their work and exhibits it in its full glory.

Here are a few factors that photographers must consider for choosing the right projector to display their work.

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Projection Technology – Prefer LCD and LCoS Over DLP For Photography 

The first thing that photographers must consider when choosing the right projector to display their work is the type of projection technology being used in a projector. There are primarily three technologies used in projectors – DLP, LCD, and LCoS.

DLP or Digital Light Processing projectors use chips that are composed of micromirror arrays called Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) wherein each micromirror represents one pixel on the screen. The light from the light source in the projector hits the DLP chips which are digitally controlled depending on the image to be projected. The mirrors in the chips reflect the light onto a color wheel which imparts colors for producing the final image.

LCD projectors make use of LCD instead of the DMD chips for projecting the image. The LCD is composed of pixels equal to the resolution of the projector. The light from the source is split into red, green and blue wavelengths and hits a separate LCD panel. Each panel produces a different colored version of the image to be projected resulting in three distinct copies. The three images are then combined to produce the final image to be projected.

LCoS projectors make use of a hybrid technology that has the properties of both DLP and LCD projectors. They have a reflective surface along with liquid crystals to project an image. They may also split the light from the source into three different wavelengths for outputting three images, one each in red, green and blue color, which are then combined for projecting the final image.

Photographers should ideally opt for 3LCD projectors (with three LCD chips) or LCoS projectors (that use three LCoS chips) for displaying their artwork. These projectors are designed for professional use. The final imagery output by these projectors is formed from three images in primary colors (red, green and blue). Therefore, these images have accurate colors and precise image balance.

3LCD projectors are quite expensive as compared to normal consumer grade projectors, but they are worth it. LCoS projectors project images with better image quality than 3LCD projectors but cost even more. Photographers who want nothing but the best can opt for LCoS projectors if they can afford them.

 Single-chip DLP projectors are not recommended for photographers as their color wheels can produce the rainbow effect which may impact the quality of the projected images negatively. Photographers who prefer a DLP projector can consider three-chip DLP projectors that are designed for professional use.

Resolution – Stick To 1080p or True 4K Native Resolution

The second thing that photographers must consider when choosing the right projector to display their work is its resolution. All digital images are composed of millions of tiny pixels. Professional cameras capture images in pixels which depend on the sensor used in them. Projectors also have different resolutions that determine the number of pixels used to project an image. The detail level of an image increases with the number of pixels.

Popular projector resolutions include 1080p (1920x1080 pixels), UHD 4K (3840x2160) and True 4K (4096x2160) projectors. Photographers should consider at least a 1080p projector for exhibiting their photographs. It is the Full HD resolution and ensures decent image quality. 

UHD 4K and True 4K projector project images that have more than eight million pixels. The quality of the images is almost four times than the quality of 1080p imagery. Photographers who want a top of the line projector can consider a UHD 4K or a True 4K projector. However, these projectors are quite expensive as compared to 1080p projectors.

Some projectors make use of pixel shifting technology to project imagery. The LCD or LCoS chips in these projectors have a lower resolution than the imagery projected on the screen. They accomplish the same by projecting multiple versions of an image at an extremely fast rate so that they appear to be a single image. However, their images have slightly lower quality instead of native 4K projectors.

Photographers must consider projectors whose native resolution is equal to 1080p, UHD 4K or True 4K instead of pixel shifting projectors for ensuring optimum image quality. There are a few projectors with a wide aspect ratio (e.g. 1920x1200) which you can consider if required.

Color Accuracy and Balance 

One of the most important factors that photographers must consider when choosing a projector is the accuracy of colors in the images projected by it. Colors play a vital role in photographs, and it is important that the colors are projected exactly as the photographer intended them to be. They capture the mood of the photograph and impart a soul to it. Incorrect color accuracy or balance can negatively affect the image quality.

Photographers should consider a projector that comprehensively supports sRGB color space. A few projectors also have an inbuilt sRGB mode that is designed for photographers and ensures maximum color accuracy. Some projectors also meet the Rec.709 or 2020 standard both of which are better than sRGB.

At the same time, buyers should also ensure that the projector allows them the flexibility to adjust the colors for optimizing the imagery as per the environment it is installed in.

Brightness – Depending on the Area for Displaying The Artwork 

Photographers who want to buy a projector to display their work have to consider its brightness rating. Projectors come with different brightness ratings that are expressed in lumens. It depends on the light source employed in the projector. The ideal lumens rating of a projector for you will depend on a few factors.

One of these is the distance of the projector from the projection screen. As light travels from the projector to the screen, it disperses. The farther a projector is placed from the screen, the lower will be the brightness of the imagery projected by it.

Second is the amount of ambient light in the room and whether it will be controllable. Projectors work best when they are used in dark rooms with low ambient light. Using the same projector in a room with high amounts of natural light or ambient light will reduce the brightness of the images. You will need a projector with a higher brightness rating if you are going to display your artwork in a room with high amounts of light.

The third thing will be the size of the image to be projected. An 80” image projected by a projector will appear brighter than a 120” image projected by it. It is because the light will be dispersed over a smaller area for the 80” image, hence improving the brightness.

Photographers can choose a projector with 2,000 lumens rating for displaying their work in low ambient lighting. Environments with medium lighting will require a projector from 2,000 lumens to 3,000 lumens while high ambient light conditions will require a 3,500 or higher lumens projector. The brightness will also depend on the projector’s light source. Lamps used in projectors are brighter than their LED counterparts but have a shorter lifespan (5,000 hours vs 20,000 hours on an average). Choose one of these depending on your usage.

Contrast Ratio

The contrast ratio rating of a projector will also impact the quality of the projected imagery and must be considered. It determines the difference between the brightest and the darkest pixel the projector can project. High contrast ratio adds depth to imagery making it more realistic. Photographers should look for projectors that have a high static contrast ratio. However, numbers alone don’t tell the complete story of the projector. It is best to try out different projectors for determining the one that best fits your needs.

Besides the above, there are a few additional features that photographers can consider while choosing the right projector to display their work. These include lens shift for image correction, connectivity options like HDMI, storage options like memory card and USB, throw ratio that determines how far the projector is installed from the screen, and Wi-Fi access. They may also want a projector with audio capability if they plan on playing audio while exhibiting their images.

Even if two different models of projectors share the same specifications, their projected imagery may still vary. It is best to try out different projectors before purchasing one. 



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