How important is projector lumen output? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 03-26-2007, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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As the question implies, I'm wondering just how important projector lumen output really is because it's making me second guess my projector purchase. The current 1080P projector line up, for the most part, do not offer what many folks that frequent these boards think is enough. With the exception of the JVC, the rest of the under $5,000 units look pretty low on paper. Even the JVC looks pretty low, but I've read that its rating is an actual D65 calibrated rating so it's apparently fairly bright.

So what is it about lumen output that's so important? Why should I bother with this specification? Is there some magic number that the pro's shoot for when setting up theaters? I can't believe that with so much emphasis on it that there isn't some pretty accurate rules of thumb to go by

I was playing with my Panasonic 900 last night, switching between low and high lamp mode and I just didn't notice a whole heck of a lot. I definitely didn't think the extra little bit of light was worth the extra fan noise. That little bugger is horribly loud with the lamp on high.

I just ordered a Panasonic 1000U to replace the 900 last week, but as luck would have it, my order didn't go through and I have to either cancel it or confirm it again. I was a bit concerned over this whole lumen output discussion when I placed the order, so now I'm looking at it as Karma. Maybe this is some sort of sign, and I should just buy the RS-1? Whatever I buy, I need to pick up the phone and do it within the next 24 hours or so.

If the two projectors were the same price, I'd just get the JVC, but a $2000 difference is a lot cash to blow on other stuff', unless the performance difference is truly there and justifiable.

My room is a very dark Burgundy (walls / ceiling) and I usually have it light controlled. But, there are times when I like to keep the shade on the window open or have some sofet lights on. For that reason, I've got a Stewart Firehawk G3 screen. But in the evenings when we watch a movie, all the lights are off.


The projector is 12' away from a 106 2.35 screen with a CIH set up using a Prismasonic 1500FE HE lens and a VP-50 for vertical stretching, and whatever else that little magic box does.

Can someone help me with this so that I can make a non-emotional decision biased off needs? I'm afraid that the JVC is just the latest, greatest new toy in the department that all the kids want. In six months, there will be another to replace it. But if it really is the one I need, and it's worth the extra money, I'll order one.

..............mike
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-26-2007, 01:41 PM
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It tells you how bright or dim your image will be in conjunction with your preferred screen size, so it's quite an important figure.

Theaters require a reflectance of around 12 foot lamberts (many actually have less), and to discover what FL you will have with a particular screen you divide the actual lumens of the projector by the area of the screen (in square feet), and then multiply by any gain if the screen has it. So 600 genuine lumens (not advertised as those numbers are generally for an uncalibrated unit, though the HD1 figures are accurate) on a 8.8ft wide 2.35:1 screen (assuming the figure you gave is width and not diagonal) with 1.1 gain will give you almost 20FL. With lamp aging that may be a reasonable figure for you to start with and the image may still be bright enough for as the lamp reaches the end of its life.

You may prefer a dimmer image or a brighter image, so that may make a difference to the size of screen or whether or not it should have any gain.

Going from high lamp to low lamp usually has a difference of around 20%, so visually it's not a great deal. The eye perceives a difference of 50% when luminance drops to around 18% of the original value so a 20% drop won't appear as much as you'd assume.

Whether or not the HD1 is for you is for you to decide, but if you read the reviews and owner comments you'll get an idea of how it performs. Ideally you should see one in action and decide if it's for you or not.

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post #3 of 15 Old 03-26-2007, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you Gary.

My screen size is 96 X 41. Figuring your noted 12 Flm number and assuming my math is correct, I will need a minimum of 300 lumens. I guess the crux of my situation is that I can not just go out and audition projectors, especially the RS-1. I've also read that the bulb output will decrease as much as 50% within 500 hours of use. Based off the 300 need and the RS1 dropping to about 300 within 500 hours, would it be safe to assume 600 lumens to be my minimum requirement?

I'm pretty sure that based off user comments and reviews, I would be happy with either the RS1 or the 1000U. I haven't seen a whole lot of negative comments concerning either projector. At this point, Lumen output is my biggest concern and the only thing I have to go off is to base my next purchase off of what I have now, the 900. Well, lumen output and fan noise that is. I don't want a projector that's much noisier than the 900 on economy mode (it's right about my head by about 3 feet).

I can't help but think' I want a brighter projector than what I have now. The reason I say think', is that even though there are times when we purposely have some ambient light in the room, I always feel the need to darken the room. The picture just looks better with all the lights off. I don't know if that makes much sense or not? If it does ring bells with anyone, would that be an indication that the 900 is not bright enough for me? Or is it normal to prefer watching movies with these projectors with all the lights off?
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post #4 of 15 Old 03-26-2007, 04:11 PM
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Get a brighter projector. Too many people on these forums tout contrast ratio specs and ignore Lumens output. Then they wonder why they have to have pitch black rooms and high gain screens to see the videos. My LCD projector is 3000 ANSI lumens with a 600:1 contrast ratio. It looks GREAT against my two homemade screens - 80 inch 4:3 and 120 inch 16:9.

Don't forget, in video mode projectors are a fraction of the rated lumens output.

Don't forget, the projector lamp dims with age and it doesn't take all that long either.

John
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-26-2007, 05:16 PM
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An 8ft wide 2.35:1 screen has an area of 27.3 square feet, so 600 lumens divided by 27.3 = 22FL. Multiply that by the gain of the screen (1.1 IIRC) gives you 24FL. At 50% drop that leaves you 12FL. That's fine in a light controlled room, though I would use an ND filter to reduce the lumens as I prefer dimmer more cinematic level of brightness. Another reason for preferring a dimmer image is that brightness will enhance any image noise, most notably from SD sources like DVD (mpg artifacts) or low bitrate digital transmissions. It's less of an issue with HD though.

Having the lights on raises your black level and reduces the contrast ratio of the image. Although a grey screen like the FH copes well with these conditions, it still has a detrimental effect on image quality compared to total light control. Ideally you want as much contrast or more than the source if you are to see all the image detail that's present (at least 2000:1), and for a good black level, a high on/off capability will help (depending on overall image brightness - a brighter image will have greyer blacks than a lower brightness pj of the same CR). The higher the on/off capable a pj is, the better the blacks and less haze is visible in shadow, so you see more detail and the colours remain more saturated near black. A brighter pj will help to some degree with ambient light, but the black level will remain the same (due to the effects of ambient) and you may still find yourself disappointed with the image. I know some people who live with as little as 3FL and are more than happy with that, but that's down to a personal preference and not one that everybody would be happy with.

What do you think of the image when all the lights are out?

Gary

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post #6 of 15 Old 03-26-2007, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks Gary Excellent input and very much appreciated.

Honestly, with all the lights off, I have very little to complain about. I was just wondering the other night if going with a 1080P projector could actually be any better. We were watching The Mummy Returns on HD/DVD and even the night scenes with the stars in the background looks great. I'm not sure how the colors, blacks and shadows could get any better. When the lights are on, I'm not as happy. (and that's even when they are very dim)

I'd probably be perfectly content with the 900 if it weren't for this darn lens and CIH set up. When I first start a 2.35 movie and it's all framed in black boarders looking small and lonely, the detail is extremely good. But after I stretch it vertically and then again horizontally, even though it still looks great, it just doesn't look as detailed as it was before I stretched it. Knowing this loss of detail is occurring is what's driving my desire to go 1080P. I suppose it could be that I'm loosing detail and lumens when I expand it, but I'm just speculating at this point.

If I didn't mention it, this is my first HT and my first projector set up. I'm a total nube to this stuff, so I just don't know what it is that I don't know..
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post #7 of 15 Old 03-27-2007, 10:15 AM
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Smaller images nearly always look sharper, so making them bigger gives the impression of losing sharpness.

Have you used a test disk to set the white and black levels? That can improve an image further depending on how close to to optimal your contrast and brightness have been set. Use Avia or DVE (or GetGrey which was created by getgrey on this forum) to set these levels accurately (or failing that, the Star Wars A New Hope THX Optimode which is a start).

I find this an enjoyable hobby, but coming to forums like this means that you pick up all sorts of info that makes you want to learn more and tweak things accordingly. I think it's great, especially when you find some of the things you do can help improve the image or help you understand how things work.

Gary

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Who says Cameron is "right" and why do we care about him so much - lol!

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post #8 of 15 Old 03-27-2007, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
The reason I say think', is that even though there are times when we purposely have some ambient light in the room, I always feel the need to darken the room. The picture just looks better with all the lights off. I don't know if that makes much sense or not? If it does ring bells with anyone, would that be an indication that the 900 is not bright enough for me? Or is it normal to prefer watching movies with these projectors with all the lights off?

I wouldn't mention this except you say that you are new to this. Front projection is really intended only for a light controlled environment, just like when you go to a commercial theater. Even relatively small amounts of ambient light will noticeably wash out the image on anything except a few screens that are purposely made to reject extraneous light (and they have their own problems). The upshot is that it is really not terribly meaningful to form an opinion about the light output of a PJ with ambient light in the room.

Tom Huffman
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-27-2007, 11:17 AM
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mdrew,
In case you are about to reorder the Panny you might want to know that
Epson has just announced a $2999 MSRP on their 1080p pj to available
in April. I don't know about the pricing on the Panny these days but this
might put further downward price pressure on it. Alternatively,
the Epson might be brighter. PJcentral will have a review in the next week or so.

Brightness alone would likely not justify the price difference in moving up to the
JVC. However, you will get a whole lot more than just extra brightness. How much
the total package is worth only you can tell.

Brian
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-27-2007, 11:45 AM
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Oiler... you beat me to the punch!

I got the e-mail from PJC on the Epson. That certainly throws a fork in there. I think the JVC is an upgrade over the Panny in pretty much every area. Since you already have a good lens, great VP and a dark room, you should really be able to get the best out of the JVC. If you can afford the JVC, I think that will make you happiest. Having said that, if brightness is your only criterion for upgrading, I'd hold out just a little to see how good the Epson is (and if it will affect the price of the Panny 1000).

Krister
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post #11 of 15 Old 03-27-2007, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Well thanks again for the replies. I'm glad to hear that these things are not intended to be used with the lights on. I figured as much seeing how folks go through so much trouble with dark paint. I reckon the fact that so many people on this forum rant and rave over lumen output just made me assume that they are trying to get them to look like 100 plasmas.

I had looked very hard at the Epson, but I ended up dropping it off my shopping list due to its noise level. I know that sound silly, but I'm one of those folks that the dumbest things end up irritating the heck out of me. Fan noise just happens to be one of those irritants and the Epson is louder than my 900. My 900 is barely tolerable. My PS3 drives me nuts. I know the Mitsubishi is almost silent, and it was neck and neck with the Panny 1000U. Price and comparable reviews won out. With the rebate and free Oppo from Projector People (that I'll just peddle seeing how I don't need it), it was a hard deal to beat. Plus with my Visa, I get an extra year's warrantee so the one year warrantee isn't an issue to me.

I went ahead and had PP send the Panasonic 1000U. It was a tough call seeing how much praise that JVC is getting, but I just can't shake this feeling that six months from now, Sony or one of the other players is going to come out with something even better for a lower price. By that time, I'll probably need a new bulb for the 1000U, so I'll most likely just sell the projector and get something different.

I'd like to see a projector with the JVC's contrast and lumens, but as quiet and as sharp as the Mitsubishi, with the remote focus and lens shift of the Panny, and without a top notch video processor.

Thank you again for your input. I have learned a few things and that's always a good thing. This hobby' has gotten in my blood and I doubt I'll stop trying to learn more any time soon.
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post #12 of 15 Old 08-02-2011, 10:38 PM
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Hello, I have a $7,000 spending budget on a projector, a screen and sound system. i really want a truly amazing theater experience, can i do that with that price range? also, could you please suggest the best items so i can get a great theater under that price? thank you.

im also looking for electric reclining leather chairs with foot bass boosters, but i need a cheaper price than 4,500 per seat. please help !!!

and a good wall paneling company.
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post #13 of 15 Old 08-03-2011, 09:02 AM
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I had a Marantz VP8600 on a 135in 16:9 1.1 gain screen and it probably gave me about 5-8FL. So many people can over to watch movies and sports on it, not once did someone complain about how dim the picture was. I would say 12-16FL is all you need. It doesn't matter how bright it is if you turn the lights on it will look washed out.
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post #14 of 15 Old 08-03-2011, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by falconfanatic View Post

Hello, I have a $7,000 spending budget on a projector, a screen and sound system. i really want a truly amazing theater experience, can i do that with that price range? also, could you please suggest the best items so i can get a great theater under that price? thank you.

im also looking for electric reclining leather chairs with foot bass boosters, but i need a cheaper price than 4,500 per seat. please help !!!

and a good wall paneling company.

With $7K, you can get something really good. My first theater was a little less than $5K. I had a 1080p projector, Panasonic AE3000 and a 106in screen for $2000 and a 6 theater seats that reclined with cup holds for another $1500. Then the other $1500 I spent on a receiver, sound system, and tons of blu rays and ps3 games.

Right now, I replaced my panny ae3000 with a ae4000, then now a JVC RS40 as my main projector, I have two others also. The screen got replaced a couple of times, but they were easy to sell. The seats are still in great shape after 3 years and I sold my other receiver and bought a 1.4 receiver for almost the same price as the old one. The sound system is 7.1 and the same also. So, I put maybe an extra $2000 into it. So, don't go cheap if you have the money to spend. I would actually go less on the projector first and get the other things first. Like the screen, sound system, receiver, and seats. It will be cheaper to upgrade the projector. And there are some really good ones out there.
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post #15 of 15 Old 08-03-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blee0120 View Post

With $7K, you can get something really good. My first theater was a little less than $5K. I had a 1080p projector, Panasonic AE3000 and a 106in screen for $2000 and a 6 theater seats that reclined with cup holds for another $1500. Then the other $1500 I spent on a receiver, sound system, and tons of blu rays and ps3 games.

Right now, I replaced my panny ae3000 with a ae4000, then now a JVC RS40 as my main projector, I have two others also. The screen got replaced a couple of times, but they were easy to sell. The seats are still in great shape after 3 years and I sold my other receiver and bought a 1.4 receiver for almost the same price as the old one. The sound system is 7.1 and the same also. So, I put maybe an extra $2000 into it. So, don't go cheap if you have the money to spend. I would actually go less on the projector first and get the other things first. Like the screen, sound system, receiver, and seats. It will be cheaper to upgrade the projector. And there are some really good ones out there.

If you are buying a sound system that matches the capabilities of your video, then the sound system will cost as much or more than the projector and screen.

OPer
What is your room like. As in windows size of room and color of walls? What do you like to watch, movies, sports or HDTV? Need those questions answered to make suggestions.
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