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post #1 of 11 Old 02-15-2018, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Projector Ambient Light question

Hello,

I'm relatively new to the home theater projector's world and would like to have a bit of help in answering the following question:

What are the factors that determine the maximum room lighting when choosing a projector?

I have the following options with the related recommendation in max room lighting (at the same throw distance and screen size):

EPSON Home Cinema 3700 - Contrast Ratio 70000:1 with 3000 ANSI lumens - Max room lighting recommended it's 11% or 4 foot candles

EPSON Home Cinema 4000 - Contrast Ratio 140000:1 with 2200 ANSI lumens - Max room lighting recommended it's 16% or 6 foot candles

Why the Epson 4000 can handle more room lighting with less ANSI lumens (2200 vs 3000)?? It's because it has a higher contrast ratio? Does anyone know?

Thanks
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post #2 of 11 Old 02-15-2018, 03:11 PM
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It sounds as if you are using the projection calculator at projectorcentral.com. In general projection calculators are pretty accurate for determining what size image a projector can throw from specific distances but is not always accurate in other areas like room lighting. The Epson 3700 is going to throw a brighter image than the Epson 4000 and contrast is not a consideration, so it sounds as if the projection calculator is off on this one. But if you will provide the image size and throw distance you're looking at it would help us help you solve the mystery.

It's fun to play with the projection calculator. I've done it for years and still do. But if you want more detailed advice on what might work for your specific application this forum is a great place to get it from experienced folks who may own one of the projectors you're considering and uses it in similar lighting conditions.
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post #3 of 11 Old 02-15-2018, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
It sounds as if you are using the projection calculator at projectorcentral.com. In general projection calculators are pretty accurate for determining what size image a projector can throw from specific distances but is not always accurate in other areas like room lighting. The Epson 3700 is going to throw a brighter image than the Epson 4000 and contrast is not a consideration, so it sounds as if the projection calculator is off on this one. But if you will provide the image size and throw distance you're looking at it would help us help you solve the mystery.

It's fun to play with the projection calculator. I've done it for years and still do. But if you want more detailed advice on what might work for your specific application this forum is a great place to get it from experienced folks who may own one of the projectors you're considering and uses it in similar lighting conditions.
Yeah you got me...I used projectorcentral.com The screen size I'm planning to use is 120" from a throw distance of 12 feet (lens to screen) which seems to be fine for both projectors the Epson 3700 or 4000.

I don't have a basement so it will be mounted on my living room which has some windows so during the day is a bit bright but I can always buy some heavy curtains...however I'm planning to use it at most during the evening so the ambient light it's not really an issue I guess.

I'm really undecided between the two projectors. They are having them both on sale...the Epson 3700 for $1,199 and the Epson 4000 for $1,799. I know probably they are two different level projectors as the 4000 has double of contrast ratio, 4K enhancement, HDR and higher horizontal lens shift which make it easier to install. But compared to the 3700 has less ANSI lumens (2200 vs 3000) which concern me a bit cause it would be less bright...not sure if the difference in lumens create a big visible difference at naked eye...

Is it worth to spend the extra $600 to go with the Epson 4000? Is the 4K enhancement and higher contrast ratio make a big difference or it's better to have a brighter projector like the 3700?

Thanks
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post #4 of 11 Old 02-15-2018, 07:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Gisy View Post
Yeah you got me...I used projectorcentral.com The screen size I'm planning to use is 120" from a throw distance of 12 feet (lens to screen) which seems to be fine for both projectors the Epson 3700 or 4000.

I don't have a basement so it will be mounted on my living room which has some windows so during the day is a bit bright but I can always buy some heavy curtains...however I'm planning to use it at most during the evening so the ambient light it's not really an issue I guess.

I'm really undecided between the two projectors. They are having them both on sale...the Epson 3700 for $1,199 and the Epson 4000 for $1,799. I know probably they are two different level projectors as the 4000 has double of contrast ratio, 4K enhancement, HDR and higher horizontal lens shift which make it easier to install. But compared to the 3700 has less ANSI lumens (2200 vs 3000) which concern me a bit cause it would be less bright...not sure if the difference in lumens create a big visible difference at naked eye...

Is it worth to spend the extra $600 to go with the Epson 4000? Is the 4K enhancement and higher contrast ratio make a big difference or it's better to have a brighter projector like the 3700?

Thanks
I can't see a single reason to purchase the Epson Home Cinema 4000. It's black levels are noticeably inferior to the Sony HW45es. If you're not going to get the Epson 5040ub, then I would save the cash and go down to the Epson Home Cinema 3700.
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post #5 of 11 Old 02-15-2018, 08:40 PM
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@Gisy , I see the problem when I use the calculator set to a 120" screen and 12' throw for the 3700 and 4000. It shows the 3700 illuminating the screen to 35 foot-lamberts and the 4000 hitting a higher 50 foot-lamberts. This is clearly wrong as the 3700 is brighter than the 4000 and should be producing more foot-lamberts from the screen than the 4000. Someone probably entered the wrong data into the projector database so the calculations are wrong.

A fundamental of front projection is the best bright room projectors are not as good in the dark and the best dark room projectors are not as good in ambient light. Generally speaking bright room projectors produce more lumens to help overcome ambient light but sacrifice black levels, so when projecting in the dark the blacks on the screen are more greyish. Dark room projectors are the opposite -- they sacrifice maximum image brightness that isn't needed in the dark for more convincing blacks. It makes a big difference especially in dark movies with night scenes.

So you have to prioritize what's most important to you. If you can live with greyish blacks when viewing at night the 3700 will work better in ambient light. But you do have to have some light control. No projector works well when sunlight is streaming through the windows. The 4000 is kind of a compromise in that it's fairly bright for use in some ambient light and has black levels that are somewhat better than the 3700 for better night viewing. The Sony HW45ES that @LumensLover mentions has the best native black levels of any projector <$2,000 and would be better in the dark in that respect at night but not as good as either of the others in ambient light.

The 4000 and HW45ES are both higher end models with better quality and more features than the 3700 so they cost more. Both are currently on sale at exactly the same price. The 4000 adds near-4K image quality through pixel shifting and is the only one of the three that is not native 1080p, so that's a factor if you plan to view any 4K content. The 3700 costs less, and if you aren't sensitive to seeing greyish blacks when viewing in the dark it could work for you. That comes down to how much you really want to spend on your first projector.

There just isn't any one projector that does it all. Each one has a slightly different mix of pros and cons so you just have to think it through and decide which pros are most important to you and which cons you can most easily put up with. If you have more questions there are lots of good folks on this forum who are willing to share their experiences with different projectors to try to help you through the process of choosing which one best fits your needs and preferences.
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post #6 of 11 Old 02-16-2018, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
@Gisy , I see the problem when I use the calculator set to a 120" screen and 12' throw for the 3700 and 4000. It shows the 3700 illuminating the screen to 35 foot-lamberts and the 4000 hitting a higher 50 foot-lamberts. This is clearly wrong as the 3700 is brighter than the 4000 and should be producing more foot-lamberts from the screen than the 4000. Someone probably entered the wrong data into the projector database so the calculations are wrong.

A fundamental of front projection is the best bright room projectors are not as good in the dark and the best dark room projectors are not as good in ambient light. Generally speaking bright room projectors produce more lumens to help overcome ambient light but sacrifice black levels, so when projecting in the dark the blacks on the screen are more greyish. Dark room projectors are the opposite -- they sacrifice maximum image brightness that isn't needed in the dark for more convincing blacks. It makes a big difference especially in dark movies with night scenes.

So you have to prioritize what's most important to you. If you can live with greyish blacks when viewing at night the 3700 will work better in ambient light. But you do have to have some light control. No projector works well when sunlight is streaming through the windows. The 4000 is kind of a compromise in that it's fairly bright for use in some ambient light and has black levels that are somewhat better than the 3700 for better night viewing. The Sony HW45ES that @LumensLover mentions has the best native black levels of any projector <$2,000 and would be better in the dark in that respect at night but not as good as either of the others in ambient light.

The 4000 and HW45ES are both higher end models with better quality and more features than the 3700 so they cost more. Both are currently on sale at exactly the same price. The 4000 adds near-4K image quality through pixel shifting and is the only one of the three that is not native 1080p, so that's a factor if you plan to view any 4K content. The 3700 costs less, and if you aren't sensitive to seeing greyish blacks when viewing in the dark it could work for you. That comes down to how much you really want to spend on your first projector.

There just isn't any one projector that does it all. Each one has a slightly different mix of pros and cons so you just have to think it through and decide which pros are most important to you and which cons you can most easily put up with. If you have more questions there are lots of good folks on this forum who are willing to share their experiences with different projectors to try to help you through the process of choosing which one best fits your needs and preferences.
Thank you both...lots of good info!

I know understand why the Epson 4000 it's a compromise between best native black level (Sony HW45ES) and a brighter picture in daylight time (Epson 3700).

I'm leaning toward the Epson 4000 also for the following reasons:

- Lens shift: The Epson 4000 it's almost the only projector I found under $2000 that has a very wide horizontal lens shift (47%). Since I don't have a dedicated room it can reduce the visual impact in my living room by placing it towards the corner of the room and very close to the ceiling (vertical lens shift of 96%). With the Epson 3700 I will work with very tight margin for errors during installation since the horizontal lens shift it's only 24% and more important the vertical lens shift it's only 60%...therefore to use a 120" screen I will probably have to lower it down more from the ceiling. The Epson 4000 has also motorized lens meaning I don't have to get on a ladder if I need to adjust the calibration.

-4k Enhancement: I know there is no much content in 4K out there yet but when connected to a 4K Apple TV with a 4K Netflix subscription it should produce much better images than the Epson 3700. I know 4K projectors on a budget are not there yet but given I'm shopping at least you can get something that's better than HD when connected to a 4K content.

-Also for what I've read so far, and speaking with no experience yet, I feel the LCD technology it's better/different than the DLP which can produce rainbow effects.

Do you have any other suggestions for a projector under $2000? I'll probably be happy with the Epson 4000 because of the lens shift capabilities and because I know it's a good quality product. There is anything that I'm missing in terms of good projector on the same budget $1000 to $2000? (so far the only other options I looked into it's the Epson 3700 and the Sony HW45ES)

Thanks
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post #7 of 11 Old 02-16-2018, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gisy View Post
... - Lens shift: The Epson 4000 it's almost the only projector I found under $2000 that has a very wide horizontal lens shift (47%). Since I don't have a dedicated room it can reduce the visual impact in my living room by placing it towards the corner of the room and very close to the ceiling (vertical lens shift of 96%). ...
Lens shift doesn't work that way. First of all the 47% horizontal shift only means 47% of image width, so the furthest to the side you could have it would still only be slightly inside one edge of the screen. Beyond that, lens shift is cumulative. That is for every bit of horizontal shift you use you lose some vertical shift. So for example if you used half of the 47% horizontal shift you could only use half of the 96% vertical shift. If you use all of the horizontal shift you will have no vertical shift available. So it doesn't sound as if your plan will work. It's always recommended to only use a minimal amount of horizontal shift so you would be best served centering the projector horizontally on the screen with whatever projector you choose.
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post #8 of 11 Old 02-17-2018, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Lens shift doesn't work that way. First of all the 47% horizontal shift only means 47% of image width, so the furthest to the side you could have it would still only be slightly inside one edge of the screen. Beyond that, lens shift is cumulative. That is for every bit of horizontal shift you use you lose some vertical shift. So for example if you used half of the 47% horizontal shift you could only use half of the 96% vertical shift. If you use all of the horizontal shift you will have no vertical shift available. So it doesn't sound as if your plan will work. It's always recommended to only use a minimal amount of horizontal shift so you would be best served centering the projector horizontally on the screen with whatever projector you choose.
Wow...I didn't know that lens shift is not cumulative...I went off the lens shift checker on the Epson website and it shows the Epson 4000 can handle up to 4 feet shift on the left but haven't realized that if you do that you lose all of your vertical shift!! This means that I will have to center the projector in the middle which re-open some options I was looking at some time ago...

The Optoma 60UHD has the same price of the Epson 4000. Are you familiar with this projector? It is really native 4K? Somehow I feel there is a catch somewhere...it has a single DLP chip so any risks of rainbow effect? And what about levels of black compared to the Epson 4000? The Optoma 60UHD has 3000 lumens so wondering if in the dark the blacks levels are weaker than the Epson 4000...

Now that horizontal shift it's not a problem anymore there are any other projectors under $2000 that I should look into or the Epson 4000 is still the best option?

I still haven't throw off the list the Epson 3700...this is my home run gotta make a decision

Thanks
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post #9 of 11 Old 02-17-2018, 08:32 AM
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@Gisy , there is no perfect projector for all people in all viewing conditions. Each projector has a different balance of pros and cons, and each person must weigh all the pros and cons in order to select the one with the pros that best fits their individual viewing conditions and preferences and the cons they can most easily live with. You should read some of the other threads on this forum and not try to get all of your information in this one thread.

On the 4K issue, all of the current 4K projectors <$5,000 are pixel shifters. They have fewer than 3,840x2,160 pixel panels so they can't produce 4K pixels on the screen at the same time. They rapidly shift pixels back and forth with the pixels overlapping. The best 4K pixel shifters can come very close to the performance of native 4K projectors with panels that actually have 3,840x2,160 individual pixels. But they do not represent full 4K implementation. Even the expensive true 4K models haven't implemented all aspects of 4K UHD performance yet. It's still not a mature technology.

So any 4K projector you buy today will be obsoleted by future 4K models, just as 1080p projectors will be obsoleted. The decision many are making today is whether to buy a partially implemented 4K or a mature, fully implemented 1080p model. In either case if they want full 4K UHD implementation they will need to buy a new projector in a few years. A lot depends on whether you plan to watch mostly 1080p or 4K content.

Another key element is whether you plan to view mostly in the dark, mostly with some ambient light or a combination of both. The best projectors for viewing in the dark are not so good in ambient light and vice versa. The projector models you are considering are a mix with some better for dark rooms and some better for rooms with some ambient light. No front projection system is going to be at its best if there's too much ambient light in the room. But it is possible to get a decent image with a bright enough projector if the ambient light is well managed and kept away from the screen.

Manufacturer specifications for lumens (brightness) and contrast (difference between the lightest and darkest part of the screen image) are often exaggerated and misleading. So it's best to rely on the results of professional projector reviews and the advice of experienced people on this forum who know how these projectors perform in the real world.

There are many good projectors available for <$2,000 and you've already named some of the best options. But they represent different categories within that price range and so some will be better suited to your specific needs and preferences than others. So right now it would be better to focus on what environment you will be viewing in (darker or lighter) and what content you will be viewing. That will help narrow down the field and point to a few models that would best suit you.

Last edited by Dave in Green; 02-17-2018 at 09:02 AM.
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post #10 of 11 Old 02-17-2018, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
@Gisy , there is no perfect projector for all people in all viewing conditions. Each projector has a different balance of pros and cons, and each person must weigh all the pros and cons in order to select the one with the pros that best fits their individual viewing conditions and preferences and the cons they can most easily live with. You should read some of the other threads on this forum and not try to get all of your information in this one thread.

On the 4K issue, all of the current 4K projectors <$5,000 are pixel shifters. They have fewer than 3,840x2,160 pixel panels so they can't produce 4K pixels on the screen at the same time. They rapidly shift pixels back and forth with the pixels overlapping. The best 4K pixel shifters can come very close to the performance of native 4K projectors with panels that actually have 3,840x2,160 individual pixels. But they do not represent full 4K implementation. Even the expensive true 4K models haven't implemented all aspects of 4K UHD performance yet. It's still not a mature technology.

So any 4K projector you buy today will be obsoleted by future 4K models, just as 1080p projectors will be obsoleted. The decision many are making today is whether to buy a partially implemented 4K or a mature, fully implemented 1080p model. In either case if they want full 4K UHD implementation they will need to buy a new projector in a few years. A lot depends on whether you plan to watch mostly 1080p or 4K content.

Another key element is whether you plan to view mostly in the dark, mostly with some ambient light or a combination of both. The best projectors for viewing in the dark are not so good in ambient light and vice versa. The projector models you are considering are a mix with some better for dark rooms and some better for rooms with some ambient light. No front projection system is going to be at its best if there's too much ambient light in the room. But it is possible to get a decent image with a bright enough projector if the ambient light is well managed and kept away from the screen.

Manufacturer specifications for lumens (brightness) and contrast (difference between the lightest and darkest part of the screen image) are often exaggerated and misleading. So it's best to rely on the results of professional projector reviews and the advice of experienced people on this forum who know how these projectors perform in the real world.

There are many good projectors available for <$2,000 and you've already named some of the best options. But they represent different categories within that price range and so some will be better suited to your specific needs and preferences than others. So right now it would be better to focus on what environment you will be viewing in (darker or lighter) and what content you will be viewing. That will help narrow down the field and point to a few models that would best suit you.
Thank you for being impartial and provided me with lots of good info.

I've been reading a lot these past days and decided to go with the Epson 4000. I believe it's a good compromise since I will watch the majority of the content at night but on the weekends probably watch some content during daylight. Therefore I won't get the best black levels at night but at the same time I won't be short of brightness during the day. Also it's a compromise since I will watch some 4K content but not all the times since it's not so popular yet...at least the Epson 4000 has some 4K enhancement when watching 4K content without investing money in a "cheap" 4K projector (Optoma UHD60) that doesn't have all of the other features the Epson 4000 has to offer.

They also have a 30 days return policy so if I don't like or if I'll notice levels of black too greyihs I can always return it

Now I have to chose a screen which I really hope will be easier I was looking at the Elite screen SRM Pro M120HSR which uses MaxWhite FG material with a 1.1 gain.

Not sure if there is anything I need to look out for when selecting a screen that is best for both rooms with some ambient light and dark at night times.

Thank you again for all your help!
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post #11 of 11 Old 02-17-2018, 07:34 PM
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The Epson 4000 is a good compromise for viewing both in the dark and with some ambient light. It's not the best at either but it can work pretty well for both. It also has more features and flexibility than anything else <$2,000. For screen selection you might want to start a new thread in the Screens section of the forum as that's the best place to get screen advice.
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