ISCO vs. Panamorph: which is better? - AVS Forum
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Old 05-29-2001, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Being located in Taiwan, we can't get either one to demo and compare. So, considering if I want to ask my friend to buy one for me, to expand my 1024x768 projector to a wide 1366x768 ratio, which is better?

I would like to know user's experiences of the performance between the two:

1. loss of lumens and sharpness
2. uniformity
3. easy operations, placement
4. of course, PRICE!!

I would appreciate any user who have opinions on both products. Thanks.

Tzung-I Lin
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Old 05-29-2001, 10:44 PM
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Tzung-I Lin,

First off, neither the ISCO or Panamorph will increase resolution from a 1024 X 768 FPTV to 1360 X 768. It's just that a 4:3 projector like one that is 1024 X 768 resolution actually only can use 1024 X 576 pixels to display any 16:9 picture, with the rest of the vertical resolution used up with the black bars to keep the picture proportional.

The 16:9 lens either compresses the 4:3 picture's vertical height (like the Panamorph), or expands the picture width optically to use the full 4:3 panel's 1024 X 768 resolution for displaying the 1.78:1/16:9 picture. there still is some vertical resolution loss for 2.35:1 movies, but that's also proportionally less as well compared to a 4:3 projector without the anamorphic lens.

As far as the difference, I have the ISCO 1 lens, and it looks very good, and adds clarity and brightness with only minor image distortion and pincushioning. But I've also tried out the ISCO II lens and it is visibly cleaner with less distortion. I haven't seen the 16:9 Panamorph yet, but it should be comparable to the ISCO II.

The only other difference is that the ISCO expands the picture horizontally, where the Panamorph compresses the picture vertically. So for a given distance the Panamorph produces a picture that is the same width as the regular D-ILA, and the ISCO II's image is 1/3rd wider from that same distance.

-Dean.
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Old 05-30-2001, 01:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Dean, Now I learn about ISCO expands horizontally and Panamorph compress vertically. This helps alot in deciding which one to get, depending on my projection distance to the screen and the screen width.

From your statement, it seems like ISCO does not lose lumens or sharpness. I trust that Panamorph should be the same.

Now the question is the price, can someone helps me out what is the street price? and the ease of operations? Do I need special mounting devices? Or just place the lens next to the projector? Can I attatch it permanantly to any projector? Or is there a size matching issue? Thanks.

Tzung-I
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Old 05-30-2001, 03:21 AM
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Tzung-I,

A/V Science lists the ISCO II for $1450, and I'm not sure what the current retail price for the Panamorph, but it's about the same. Maybe a few hundred more.

The ISCO lens comes with an adjustable mount. I don't think that the Panamorph does, but not being a traditional lens, it may not need fine adjustments to set the alignment.

Both the ISCO and Panamorph are large enough to work with most any digital projector, so this is not a problem.

The particulars of setting up an anamorphic lens are relatively simple, but depend on the of the HT projector and HT room (ceiling/floor mounted, projector type, distance to screen, etc..)

-Dean.
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Old 05-30-2001, 11:22 AM
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I haven't been able to find information on the actual mounting of a panamorph or ISCO. Currently I have a hushbox that has the lens (g11) poking through a hole. Would these devices needed a special shelf? Do they latch onto the projector lens? Do they need to attach to the projector body?

I do know that the panamorph can be switched in and out of use by a set of rails. Can the ISCO do something similar?

I kind of think TzungILin might be interested in these questions as well.
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Old 05-30-2001, 11:34 AM
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Hi all,

I too would be interested in mounting consideration. My G11U sits in a soffit (inverted) in the rear of my HT and the lens is about 8 in. above the screen. I tilt the PJ down a bit with no problems. Will this have an impact if I add a lens?

Thanks

Gil
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Old 05-30-2001, 12:03 PM
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Dean, if I understand this correctly, the ISCO II would expand my XGA 4:3 image horizontally and keep the same height? If so, then I could replace the 4:3 screen and it's gimmicky velcro masking with a 16:9 screen of the same height, and simply add power side curtains that could be moved in to frame the 4:3 center section? If so, the SAF of the ISCO II would be higher than the Panamorph, for me. I think I like the idea of having the widescreen movies bigger than the standard AR, although I realize I will lose brightness with the wider AR as compared to the 4:3 AR.

Also, does the ISCO II slide out of the way on it's mount, or do you have to remove it manually? My projector is out of normal reach but I might be able to rig a cable to slide the lens assembly in front of the projector.

Gary


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Old 05-30-2001, 12:39 PM
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Gary, you are correct. The expansion of the ISCO allows you to easily use a 16x9 screen. The lens must be removed for 4x3 (mine sits on a shelf).
I also have an iScan Pro, which has a switch to compress the image to 4x3, which allows you to leave the ISCO in place.
I suspect that vertical compression systems will create zoom/projector placement problems.
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Old 05-30-2001, 12:54 PM
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I don't want to contaminate this thread, so if you sense an OEM bias, kick me off.

The Panamorph comes with its own mounting bracket which includes the rail system for the 4:3 bypass mode. The lens does not change the throw distance or the width of the image. With the lens in place, the 16:9 image is within the the "frame" of the original 4:3 image. If you have a 16:9 screen, then to watch 4:3 content it is true that you would need to either a) scale the content to be properly formatted to fit on the screen (just like you would with the Isco), or b) slide the Panamorph to the side and zoom the image smaller to fit the screen (no zooming necessary with removing Isco).

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Old 05-30-2001, 01:43 PM
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Hi,

I would prefer the IscoII. With it you can use your 4:3 projector like a 16:9 unit.

If you use a SIM2 HT dlp-projector you don't have to replace the extra optic for viewing 4:3 material. Programming up to 3 independent settings concerning vertical and horizontal size adjustments you can use a HT200/200DM/250 like a real 16:9 projector! I don't know if other brands have this possibility.

Greetings, Walter.

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Old 05-30-2001, 04:20 PM
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Thanks, drmyeyes - I just read your previous thread on the ISCO II. One final question: how serious is the apparent brightness loss when switching from 4:3 to 16:9 by adding the lens? I calculate I have about 33 foot-lamberts on my Da-Lite Matte White screen, and this would fall to about 26 foot-lamberts with the wider screen, unless I specify a higher gain fabric.

My real problem is I don't have total ambient light control, the best viewing is after dark when my nieghbors least appreciate the subwoofer! But I would rather spend the next $2500 on a lens and screen than a partition to control the ambient light....

Gary

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Old 05-30-2001, 05:35 PM
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Gary-
Don't worry about brightness. The image is still extremely bright, at least with my NEC VT540, and should be with any comparable light output projector. Remember, you're gaining additional light output by using the full panel for 16x9, compared to letterboxing.
For me, the biggest advantage of the anamorphic lens has been the ability to more brightly fill a 2.35:1 screen. I'm also using a Dalite Higain, which I like a lot. This screen is somewhat dependant on your room- mine is long and narrow (13x33), so any seating position is good, with only minor off-axis light loss. Also, the screen works best with a stand or shelf mounted projector, rather than ceiling mount, as the light is reflected back toward the source. The net effect is an extremely bright image even at 2.35:1 (45x105). The image is bright enough to watch even during the daytime, with less than total light control, although it is much more impressive after dark.
I'm sure these benefits will apply equally to the Panamorph. BTW, the 'reverse squeeze' (double squeeze?) that the Iscan Pro accomplishes, should also serve to expedite format switching when used with this lens, as well.
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Old 05-31-2001, 12:08 PM
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drmyeyes -

1) I've read some of your ISCO II posts in the past, and I am intrigued by your statement that an ISCO II can be used with a 16:9 projector to acieve a true 2:35:1 image (thus helping justify the investment for future use). Has this been verified, do you think, by use of the ISCO II with a 10HT?

2) By expanding the 4:3 image, does the ISCO II distort the image in the same way that a 16:9 RPTV squeeze mode distorts a 4:3 cable TV image (i.e. by making people look fat). Or, as I suspect, does the 4:3 projector + ISCO give you the net effect of what a native 16:9 LCD panel would give you.

3) Also, what you happen to know the physical measurements of the ISCO II lens (I understand it's pretty big). I want to mount it on a bookshelf with the projector but fear that I might not have the space.
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Old 05-31-2001, 12:48 PM
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Jfreeman, beware of a plan to use an ISCO II or Panamorph to expand a true 1.78:1 (i.e. 16:9 AR) projector image to 2.35:1. The geometry part of this plan is correct but I don't know of any projectors that can actually do it .... I believe the 10HT in FULL mode would add letterbox bars to display the 2.35:1 anamorphic DVD in correct proportion within the 1.78:1 panel. Thus when you stretched the image again with the lens, it would be too wide and still have the black letterbox bars to boot.

The biggest weakness of the 10HT IMHO is the inability to pass 1366X768 images without scaling/letterboxing. Nor is it known yet whether the 11HT or the Sanyo PLV-60 or the as yet unshipped Toshiba MT7 or any of the other teaser 16:9's can do this. If this were so than we could scale a 2:35:1 anamorphic DVD to 1366X768 via the HTPC, pass it through the projector with no alterations, and then stretch it with the lens.

Or maybe I'm confused, I haven't actually used such a lens, I'm still using my projector in 4:3 mode.

Gary


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Old 05-31-2001, 01:53 PM
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Gary,

Going back a few posts, the ISCO II (and I) have fixed bases. I have a HTPC, so I can scale 4:3 material and don't have to move my ISCO I lens at all.

Interestingly, I just got on the pre-order list for the Panamorph II 2.35:1 lens, and will probably build a simple sliding mount to alternate between the 16:9 ISCO lens and the 2.35:1 lens. My Whisperflow hushbox already has a shelf for the ISCO lens, and I can use that to support the slider mount.

If I had only one lens (as I do now) I'd choose a 16:9 lens because there is a tradeoff between the 4:3 material's horizontal resolution expanded through a 16:9 or 2.35:1 lens. And HDTV is natively 16:9 format.

16:9 is a good balance between 2.35:1 movies, which will still have small letterbox formatting bars, and 4:3 material, which will have sidebox bars on a 16:9 screen.

The advantage of one 16:9 lens and a HTPC is that you don't need to move the lens or refocus when changing media format.

As far as light output goes, I've only seen a light increase with the addition of the 16:9 ISCO lens (the same would apply to the Panamorph) because the lens light losses are nowhere near the added brightness of using the full 4:3 panel.

I have a 156" wide Grayhawk screen which is effectively 0.85 gain with the microperforations, combined with light losses from calibration and having a bulb with over 700 hours on it. But the light output is still very bright, and supports a good looking picture even with indirect room lights on. Direct sunlight would be a battle even with a RPTV.

As far as the comments about using the 16:9 lens with a native 16:9 paneled projector, I'm inclined to agree with you so far. I'm not sure if the Sony VPL-VW10HT can be hooked up to a HTPC to scale the vertical picture height of a 2.35:1 movie to fully fill the 16:9 panel height without cropping the sides of the picture (zoom). Hopefully the 11HT, Sanyo and other 16:9 native FPTVs will have this capability.

-Dean.
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Old 05-31-2001, 04:43 PM
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My understanding of the current 16x9 projectors is same as that above, they can't currently be fed HTPC to fill the panel.
My screen is true 2.35:1. The projector is not. It is projecting 2.35 letterboxed, as usual, within a 16x9 frame which the ISCO creates. I've had additional masking applied around the active screen area to block off the letterbox bars. The net effect is constant height, varying width, depending on format, achieved by zooming or moving the projector as necessary to fill the screen height. I use curtains at the sides. There is no visible letterboxing when watching widescreen movies. It falls within the masking.
This could be done without the lens as well. The lens just makes the image brighter, and makes the pixels less visible by using more of them, allowing a larger image, with more impact.

[This message has been edited by drmyeyes (edited 05-31-2001).]

[This message has been edited by drmyeyes (edited 05-31-2001).]
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Old 05-31-2001, 05:05 PM
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Gentlemen, thank you for the input. I am now strategizing for the budget change that will allow a lens and screen. I am at a bigger disadvantage than most, the wife is a CPA and watches the coins pretty close. But she got the last toy and it's my turn.

Dean, I like the idea of switching to 4:3 via the HTPC and sidebars. This would keep the brightness the same as 16:9 mode. I don't have HDTV yet, so I wouldn't be losing much resolution with NTSC analog signals or the few VHS movies I still own.
Gary

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Old 05-31-2001, 07:56 PM
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Gary,

Actually, there is normally no loss in light for 4:3 material without the lens, but also I can't really percieve a loss of brightness with the lens in 4:3 mode with the HTPC either.

The advantage is the gain in brightness for widescreen material (both 1.85:1 and 2.35:1) with the lens.

And the advantage to using a HTPC for formatting a 4:3 picture is that you don't need to move or refocus the lens, or change the projector angle when moving between media formats.

Also an advantage of a HTPC with 2.35:1 material on a 16:9 screen is that you can use YXY software to position the active picture area at the top of the screen and you only need to use one (taller) mask at the bottom of the screen.

As to the loss in resolution with a HTPC and scaled DVDs, it's not bad. I have mine set at 1024 X 1024p, but since the native resolution is much lower, it's no sweat.

-Dean.
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Old 05-31-2001, 08:38 PM
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One of the most staggering things I saw in January when I got the chance to look at a demo the Panamorph was the increased "brightness".
Shawn Kelly physically held the Panamorph in front of the Dlp and then took it away (the anamorphic dvd was on pause so we could concentrate on the difference we where seeing).

The result of this was an "Absolute Stunning" difference in brightness and absent pixel structure (xga native device) without any detectable loss of sharpness or other side effects.

No doubt to me that another major benefit is that the resolution was perceived as being increased with the lens in place. This is obviously due to the extra pixel mapping shown per sq inch of picture. The Xga device showed almost no structure with the Panamorph in place even at 2ft away.

I viewed the still image from 2ft to 15ft away and the effect of adding the Panamorph was "Absolutely Amazing".
The effect is not subtle (about the same as a bit of 4x2 across the back of your head). It was like someone swapped projectors and you where watching a much brighter and higher resolution unit.
Those who do not buy an Anamorphic lens for you single lens are just plain mad.

DavidW
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Old 05-31-2001, 09:05 PM
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For what it's worth, when I was watching Charlie's Angles (2.35:1 anamorphic) on the Sanyo PLV-60, the rep pushed a button or did something from the input menu to go to 'full' mode. This stretched the image vertically to fill the panel, removing the black bars from the top/bottom of the frame. This 'full' mode only worked for non-HD (480p and below) sources. This means that the Sanyo would work perfectly with a 2.35:1 screen and the ISCO II. I was elated.

- Dieter
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Old 06-01-2001, 03:16 PM
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Dieter,

Many DTV displays have different zoom modes that blow up the image to fill the vertical picture height. Unfortunately, most do the expansion vertically AND horizontally, which also crops off the sides of the picture as it blows the image height up to eliminate the black bars.

If however, the Sanyo has built-in scaling that vertically upconverts non-anamorphic DVD material to full 16:9 proportions like some of the newer scalers do, then that would work with 16:9 enahnced 2.35:1 DVDs, vertically scaling the picture height to fill the 4:3 panel, which would then be vertically compressed by the Panamorph II.

Otherwise, the only option would be a HTPC or Quadscan or Vigitec scaler to expand the 2.35:1 image to full 1.33:1 height for use with the Pana II.

-Dean.
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