What projector screen should I chose gray or white - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 02-27-2020, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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What projector screen should I chose gray or white

Hi,

this is my first post and I have been doing a lot of research on which screen to choose. All the research though has made it harder to choose I think . I hoping to layout my scenario and get some opinion on what type of screen would be best for my room/projector. I have two scenarios (projectors) that any opinion would be appreciated.

I have attached two shots of the room I plan on turning into my projector room (not currently ideal but I will be getting blackout curtains for the windows). The plan is to place the screen on the wall where the couch currently is. I plan to use this for movies (darkroom type viewing) but also sports and general tv viewing during day time, where I'd have some task lighting on. I do generally prefer to watch tv, etc with some type of light on as opposed to pitch-black rooms if that matters.

facts that won't change for either scenario
1. shooting for a 165" screen
2. seating distance from screen probably be about 10-13'

scenario/projector one:
I have an Epson HC 3020
scenario/projector two:
Epson HC 5040UB

so my questions for each scenario are
1. should I choose a .8 gain gray screen or 1.1 gain white screen?
2. should I be placing the projector as close to the screen as possible? (meaning when I do the throw calculations there is a range of say 16 feet to 26 feet from the screen, is there a PQ lose potential depending on which distance I choose.

I'm also curious if you think getting the Epson 5040UB will be a significant gain over the 3020. I'm not looking to spend a lot on a projector so I know there are probably better options out there but I could get the Epson 5040 for $1200 so wondering if at that price it is a good upgrade over my current projector.

thanks for any advice
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-27-2020, 07:37 PM
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The 5040 will be a signifent upgrade over your 3020 regardless of room conditions or screen. Shorter throw will have less light loss internal to projector. A gray screen may help but at 165" screen brightness is a big concern. The Epson 3800 may be a better choice with a gray screen. If you have dedicated direct spots that don't flood the room with light it may be watchable but if too much light floods the room no projector is going to work.

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post #3 of 19 Old 02-28-2020, 10:54 AM
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Your screen is too big for that viewing distance. 100” would be better. Much Brighter and easier to follow the action without using your eyes and neck so much. Especially for sports and gaming if u do those. I have same seating distance from 100” screen and works great at night. During the daytime i get some light bleed around the edges of my curtains which washes out the picture even at 100” screen size with my Epson 2500 lumen projector and new bulb. You will need to do a much better job with the curtains than i did. It doesnt help that my window frames are white.
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post #4 of 19 Old 02-28-2020, 06:04 PM
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@Hubbell Galvin-Darnieder

Do you mean HC3200 and not HC3020?

As stinkyonion said above you should project the image on the wall for a while before deciding on a screen size.

A very general ratio is 10-12" in diagonal for every foot in distance.
For 10' that would be 100-120".
For 13' that would be 130 - 156".

The closer a projector is the brighter it will be.

Light colored walls will have a negative impact on contrast and black level:
Example:
https://www.facebook.com/projectiond...2721894385217/

Room treatment will dilate the eye's iris and let more light through, thus effectively increasing perceived brightness.
It will also help with lights on due to the reduction of reflected surfaces light.


Can the room be treated?
The are that if treated will be of most benefit will be around 5' the screen, including ceiling, floor, screen wall.


Are you willing to use paint, on a screen or wall?

What is the length of the room?
Can the door in the picture be covered up?
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post #5 of 19 Old 02-29-2020, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
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more info

thanks all for the feedback

@noob00224

I have the HC3020
I'm not set on the 165" just was reading other forums and most people had said go as big as possible but if that doesn't make sense then I don't have to use that size. the plan is to build my own screen probably using carl's flexiwhite or flexigray.

the room can be treated to a degree, like repainting walls and ceiling the floors are hardwood so I wouldn't want to do anything to them.

I'm willing to use paint as the screen but a little worried about the prep of the wall and if that's better than a screen assuming the wall is prepped properly, not looking to spend a ton on this as it is the first time I will have a projector set up so trying to do minimal amount so that I can see how well it will work in that room, as its the only space I really have for that size screen that I am somewhat able to control lighting in.
the door could be covered up but again wouldn't be planning on that until I was satisfied that the room works in general (would probably just find some black velvet or something I could roll up and then release down when needed.

the room length, not 100% sure on right now as I'm traveling, but I'd say 30' but that opens to a kitchen (which has really poor lighting actually)
at night the room is pretty dark not best lighting up there if the overhead lights are off.
I'd be open to an ALR screen if that be better just not sure if either those projectors have the lumens to make that make sense, don't fully understand the best scenarios for each as most stuff online still seems to imply that you want as little ambient light for any screen.

thanks for the help
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-29-2020, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hubbell Galvin-Darnieder View Post
thanks all for the feedback

@noob00224

I have the HC3020
I'm not set on the 165" just was reading other forums and most people had said go as big as possible but if that doesn't make sense then I don't have to use that size. the plan is to build my own screen probably using carl's flexiwhite or flexigray.

the room can be treated to a degree, like repainting walls and ceiling the floors are hardwood so I wouldn't want to do anything to them.

I'm willing to use paint as the screen but a little worried about the prep of the wall and if that's better than a screen assuming the wall is prepped properly, not looking to spend a ton on this as it is the first time I will have a projector set up so trying to do minimal amount so that I can see how well it will work in that room, as its the only space I really have for that size screen that I am somewhat able to control lighting in.
the door could be covered up but again wouldn't be planning on that until I was satisfied that the room works in general (would probably just find some black velvet or something I could roll up and then release down when needed.

the room length, not 100% sure on right now as I'm traveling, but I'd say 30' but that opens to a kitchen (which has really poor lighting actually)
at night the room is pretty dark not best lighting up there if the overhead lights are off.
I'd be open to an ALR screen if that be better just not sure if either those projectors have the lumens to make that make sense, don't fully understand the best scenarios for each as most stuff online still seems to imply that you want as little ambient light for any screen.

thanks for the help
If the room is treated there is no need for an alr screen. A white screen would do. Assuming there is no ambient light.
On the floor a dark rug would do.

ALR screen can help with the black level, but require to be placed at a certain throw ratio, usually over 1.8x throw ratio. For an 156" screen (16:9), 1.9x throw ratio would be ~22" back. The further away the projector is, the less bright it will be.
ALR fabrics (no frame) can be found, but from the relatively cheap ones I'm not sure if any of them are positive gain. Maybe Carl's ALR.

Paints can be applied on either a white smooth wall or smooth white PVC screen, whatever is better for you. Paint solutions are similar in price to ALR fabrics.
If you want to go this route then create a new thread here:
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/110-diy-screen-section/

A painted screen would be superior to an alr fabric one.

Both the HC3020 and 5040UB are bright enough. For HDR with the 5040UB over 110-120 is probably too much, unless you use madvr with a htpc.
The 5040UB has better blacks and is slightly brighter.
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-02-2020, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
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@noob00224
Both the HC3020 and 5040UB are bright enough. For HDR with the 5040UB over 110-120 is probably too much, unless you use madvr with a htpc.

could you explain madvr with a htpc? not sure what is meant by that?

also the epson 5050UB (~$2600) is it worth the $1500 price difference over the 5040UB (~$1150)

thanks
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post #8 of 19 Old 03-02-2020, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hubbell Galvin-Darnieder View Post
@noob00224
Both the HC3020 and 5040UB are bright enough. For HDR with the 5040UB over 110-120 is probably too much, unless you use madvr with a htpc.

could you explain madvr with a htpc? not sure what is meant by that?

also the epson 5050UB (~$2600) is it worth the $1500 price difference over the 5040UB (~$1150)

thanks
The biggest difference between to 5040 and 5050 is the HDMI on the 5040 is only 10Gb so some 4K/HDR is limited to 30hz and the 5050 has much better internal tone mapping for HDR. Is it worth $1500 only you can determine that as we don't know how much $1500 means to you.

MadVR is a free software video processor that can do very high quality HDR tone mapping (better then any projectors internal processing to date) and much more for locally stored video only.(won't work for streaming) It does require a fairly high end graphics card to be its best..
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As a general rule, unless you're in a dedicated room, white shouldn't even be a consideration. If you have ANY light in the room, the grays will improve contrast. Remember, the PJ can't project black, so the blacks will be as black as the screen is in the environment it's in. Your only consideration should be the Gray or ALR.

Here's a great comparison of the three fabrics, which should at least convince you to not consider white:

I also agree with others that there is such thing as too big. At 10-13' most would be happy with an 85" TV, but I'd go for a screen in the 100-120" range. It'll help with brightness too.

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post #10 of 19 Old 03-03-2020, 07:02 AM
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It's true that a <1.0 gain neutral density matte grey screen can produce a better image in ambient light than a 1.0 gain neutral density matte white screen. But for reduced image washout your projector needs to be capable of being adjusted bright enough to properly illuminate the <1.0 gain screen to the same level as the 1.0 gain screen. The advantage the grey screen will have is that by adjusting the projector to a brighter level you will be increasing the proportion of projected image lumens to ambient light lumens which will reduce image washout. If you don't adjust the projector to be brighter with the <1.0 gain grey screen you won't be changing the proportion of image brightness to ambient light washout and the whole image will simply be darker -- blacks, whites and everything in between.
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post #11 of 19 Old 03-03-2020, 11:16 AM
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Here is a great example done many years ago by a member here. it compares a simple white and a simple gray with and without ambient light. As it was done no compensation was made for making the darker screen brighter by upping the brightness. So even head to head there is an illusion or perception of a better PQ when the black floor is lowered with ambient lighting.
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@Dave in Green

thanks for the reply. I understand what you mean about upping the brightness when using a gray screen. I have seen similar remarks in other forum posts. I guess what I don't understand or have a question about is if going with a gray screen, which sounds like the choice I'll be making. does the epson 3020 have enough lumens to I guess "make up" for the .8 screen gain. If so how do you determine what brightness to set the projector at to optimize it, this is where I get a little lost and don't know if its more of a calibration/(trial and error) thing given the room dynamics and amount of ambient light in the room once the projector is up or am I setting it at say the projectors max lumen output and that's it.

thanks again to all who are replying
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hubbell Galvin-Darnieder View Post
@Dave in Green

thanks for the reply. I understand what you mean about upping the brightness when using a gray screen. I have seen similar remarks in other forum posts. I guess what I don't understand or have a question about is if going with a gray screen, which sounds like the choice I'll be making. does the epson 3020 have enough lumens to I guess "make up" for the .8 screen gain. If so how do you determine what brightness to set the projector at to optimize it, this is where I get a little lost and don't know if its more of a calibration/(trial and error) thing given the room dynamics and amount of ambient light in the room once the projector is up or am I setting it at say the projectors max lumen output and that's it.

thanks again to all who are replying
also based on comments sounds like I'll end up shooting for a 120" screen
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post #14 of 19 Old 03-03-2020, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hubbell Galvin-Darnieder View Post
also based on comments sounds like I'll end up shooting for a 120" screen
You may want to do some math. Carlton Bale has made a nice spreadsheet that calculates everything for you. Pay special attention to your foot lamberts. It indicates that 16-30 is acceptable brightness. That is true. The thing the spreadsheet doesn't take into account is lamp dimming over time. If you're starting at 16 foot lamberts on a new bulb, you're going to have a bad time when the bulb is old. You will also not be happy having to run your projector on high lamp all the time. The spreadsheet is also assuming you're entering REAL numbers for brightness. Shockingly published numbers are typically BS marketing numbers, usually the absolute peak possible in the worst quality mode. To calculate mine I found a web site where someone reviewed the projector I have and determined the actual lumen output in the various modes I use the projector in in both high and low lamp. (I.E. As the Film or Cinema mode usually reduces brightness in favor of better colors I made sure I had enough brightness in that mode at my desired screen size)

You also want to make sure that you have enough lamp for HDR sources. I'm not super familiar with the epson PJs, I know with my JVC, I like a large screen so I have a 120" diagonal 2.35:1 screen and sit about 10' from it. I have the highest gain AT screen I could get my hands on and I wish I had a little more brightness to deal with lamp aging. I have well into the high teens in HDR at half life of the bulb with high lamp and an expensive lens.That means I start in the mid 30's foot lamberts with a new bulb...

Do the calculations and decide if you can afford a grey screen or white. I thought I wanted a grey screen at first but then I discovered I REALLY wanted a bright screen with good contrast which meant a white screen with the closest to a 1.1 gain I could get and a few mins with a calibration tool to get the contrast and gamma set properly....

Also, I ordered screen material from about 7 different companies to compare and settled on a Seymour product. I took all my samples and a case of beer to a friends house and we did a blind comparison with his PJ. Some of the materials would have resulted in a $4K+ screen cost and some would have resulted in a $200 screen cost. I wound up not going with the product I thought I was going to initially at a savings of many thousands. All of my friends were in agreement that we liked the same material. I did spend a little more by buying an aluminum frame system from Seymour but I could have also just purchased the materials for something like $150 and made my own frame. The Seymour guys were great and treated me like family.


http://carltonbale.com/home-theater/...er-calculator/

Good luck!
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post #15 of 19 Old 03-03-2020, 09:29 PM
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Are you currently using the HC3020? If so, what screen size? If not, can you use it to play around with size on your current wall? Screen size is very subjective. I'd think 120" would be the biggest you'd wanna go with that room (assuming 16:9 screen). If you can test out different sizes from your seating distance and get a sense of what you like best, that would be ideal.

Also, what's your throw distance going to be? Both of those projectors need a minimum of around 16 feet to throw a 165" image.

And lastly, how's Milwaukee these days?
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post #16 of 19 Old 03-04-2020, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bud16415 View Post
Here is a great example done many years ago by a member here. it compares a simple white and a simple gray with and without ambient light. As it was done no compensation was made for making the darker screen brighter by upping the brightness. So even head to head there is an illusion or perception of a better PQ when the black floor is lowered with ambient lighting.
That illusion or perception of a better PQ is based on the assumption that darker blacks with darker whites are preferred to brighter whites with lighter blacks. There have been many instances on this forum of people comparing white and grey screens with the same projector settings where they described the "dingy" whites on the grey screen not being worth the improvement in darker blacks. So that particular illusion or perception is not universally the same for all people under all conditions.
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post #17 of 19 Old 03-04-2020, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hubbell Galvin-Darnieder View Post
@Dave in Green

thanks for the reply. I understand what you mean about upping the brightness when using a gray screen. I have seen similar remarks in other forum posts. I guess what I don't understand or have a question about is if going with a gray screen, which sounds like the choice I'll be making. does the epson 3020 have enough lumens to I guess "make up" for the .8 screen gain. If so how do you determine what brightness to set the projector at to optimize it, this is where I get a little lost and don't know if its more of a calibration/(trial and error) thing given the room dynamics and amount of ambient light in the room once the projector is up or am I setting it at say the projectors max lumen output and that's it.

thanks again to all who are replying
Think of the projector, screen and viewing conditions as a system where all three elements need to be optimized together. If we lock in any one of those elements to the point that it has no variability then we only have the other two elements to work with. For example, if someone says they can't or don't want to block ambient light from coming through windows then they've eliminated one area of potential improvement and are left with only the projector and screen to make up any shortcoming.

So, if we start with a projector that's optimized to produce an appropriately bright image on a specific size 1.0 gain matte white screen and it doesn't have any capability of going brighter to properly illuminate a <1.0 gain matte grey screen then the projector is the limiting factor to prevent switching from a white screen to a grey one of the same size. In other words the optimum setup requires matching both the projector and screen to the viewing conditions. Once in place you can't really change one of the three elements without affecting the other two.

If we're locked into a specific projector with certain limitations then there are options to compensate but they all come with trade-offs. For example, if our projector won't go bright enough to compensate for loss of gain when going from a 1.0 gain matte white screen to a <1.0 gain matte grey screen there's an option to go to a non-matte (non-lambertian) grey screen with directional gain that can boost total screen gain back to 1.0 or even higher. However, the trade-off for directional gain is reduced viewing cone which will reduce image brightness as you move away from the horizontal and/or vertical center of the viewing cone.

There's really no simple way to calculate all this for the average person. Professional AV installers have measuring equipment and years of experience to be able to recommend what will work best after measuring and analyzing a room environment and understanding the viewer's budget and expectations. For most of us it's a matter of trying to understand the basics and making our best estimates. Ultimately trial and error with our own eyes will tell us what works best for us. Unfortunately that means most of us won't get it right the first time but our setups should improve over time.
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post #18 of 19 Old 03-04-2020, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
That illusion or perception of a better PQ is based on the assumption that darker blacks with darker whites are preferred to brighter whites with lighter blacks. There have been many instances on this forum of people comparing white and grey screens with the same projector settings where they described the "dingy" whites on the grey screen not being worth the improvement in darker blacks. So that particular illusion or perception is not universally the same for all people under all conditions.
That’s correct and one of the reasons I like those two images together as anyone can get a feeling if that perceptual change helps or hurts them in the case of room ambient lighting and how our eyes both adjust to the room light and projected light. Of course the benefits of the gray screen like I use .5 gain with double the image brightness 2X only improves the real black level and also the perception. Many people assume a simple low gain gray screen is for poor rooms with ambient and poor projectors struggling to make black only. The lights out example provides a comparison on the other end of the condition as well.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WiscoNYC View Post
Are you currently using the HC3020? If so, what screen size? If not, can you use it to play around with size on your current wall? Screen size is very subjective. I'd think 120" would be the biggest you'd wanna go with that room (assuming 16:9 screen). If you can test out different sizes from your seating distance and get a sense of what you like best, that would be ideal.

Also, what's your throw distance going to be? Both of those projectors need a minimum of around 16 feet to throw a 165" image.

And lastly, how's Milwaukee these days?
not currently using the HC3020, bought it refurb from epson I think in 2016 to use outside with a 133" white screen but didn't work how I was hoping and didn't watch outside as much as I thought I would have, so the thing kind of got buried in my tech stuff since didn't really have a place inside for it until we did some rearranging and now have found a room inside to use it. But yes I can use it to play around inside on the current wall to get a feel for size. I will be doing a 16:9 screen. Sounds like I need to do a bunch of trial and error when I get home though . Plan now will be to use the HC3020 and the 133" screen I have (assuming I can get it inside . to try out size and screen material in the room at least i'll see how the white does in the room as is and can better choose my screen from that info.

Milwaukee is good in general, been living in SC for three months to dodge the winter about to head back in a week to start this trial and error process and enjoy the summer there though. thanks for the feedback
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