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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm building a theater with pretty good light control (no windows).


How many ftLs do you think I need to make sure the image has real pop on a 16x9 screen?


If I know that, I will then work back to the projector brightness, screen size, gain, etc.


Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Daniel Hutnicki
Stewarts recommends that you not go under 16 ftls with digitals. In reality you should be over 18
Thanks, very helpful.


What do you think about my desire to "really pop"? That is, is 18 a minimum requirement in your mind, or a really nice level?


If that question is misguided (very possible) just say so!
 

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If it helps, SMPTE standards for a commercial theater are 16ftL +/- 4ftL with no film in the gate. Most commercial theaters don't meet said standard--a random google yielded a report issued in 2000 by a cinema consulting firm that showed an average of only 7ftL in theaters that were tested. Keep in mind that the SMPTE standard is a balance for what is acceptable brightness without inducing visible flicker.


If you're working with a CRT front projector, hitting even 12ftL is considered lucky; a high output digital front projector can do much "better," of course (but be careful, because a lot of "high output" digitals see their light output fall dramatically post calibration, sometimes losing as much as 40-50% of their output). There are people on this forum watching setups that hit 40-50-60ftL (typically in rooms with ambient light), and there are people with setups that can barely hit 7ftL but that are still very happy. It's a very personal thing--my 100% light controlled CRT front projector setup hits 12.1ftL, and I think it's perfectly fine...the times I have watched movies in 40ftL+ settings (e.g., a plasma in a perfectly dark room) have tended to yield eye fatigue and headaches after as little as 30 minutes...maybe I'm just weird.


FWIW, the "pop" that most people speak of isn't a pure function of brightness, but rather contrast--a high output, low to medium contrast projector will not be as "poppy" as a low output, high contrast one. YMMV.
 

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In reality the actual number should be 8, it just that some people think that the lumens given by projector makers are a little too high and if lumens were actually measured, they would be alot less than what is advertised. So in order to be safe 16 has become the number to use based on advertised lumens and not independent lab tested numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by amillians
If it helps, SMPTE standards for a commercial theater are 16ftL +/- 4ftL with no film in the gate. Most commercial theaters don't meet said standard--a random google yielded a report issued in 2000 by a cinema consulting firm that showed an average of only 7ftL in theaters that were tested. Keep in mind that the SMPTE standard is a balance for what is acceptable brightness without inducing visible flicker.


If you're working with a CRT front projector, hitting even 12ftL is considered lucky; a high output digital front projector can do much "better," of course (but be careful, because a lot of "high output" digitals see their light output fall dramatically post calibration, sometimes losing as much as 40-50% of their output). There are people on this forum watching setups that hit 40-50-60ftL (typically in rooms with ambient light), and there are people with setups that can barely hit 7ftL but that are still very happy. It's a very personal thing--my 100% light controlled CRT front projector setup hits 12.1ftL, and I think it's perfectly fine...the times I have watched movies in 40ftL+ settings (e.g., a plasma in a perfectly dark room) have tended to yield eye fatigue and headaches after as little as 30 minutes...maybe I'm just weird.


FWIW, the "pop" that most people speak of isn't a pure function of brightness, but rather contrast--a high output, low to medium contrast projector will not be as "poppy" as a low output, high contrast one. YMMV.


Thanks, this is really helping. Let me be more specific and maybe you can advise? I have a 31' L x 16' W x 9' H room that will be as dark as needed. I'm planning on using a Runco VX-5000ci at about a 20' throw with a Stewart 16x9 screen. The choices I'm down to are 9' or 10' screen, and Firehawk (gain of 1.3) vs. Grayhawk (gain of 0.95).


The ftLs come out as follows (using the 1500 measure from Runco, I guess you're telling me real life can be less):


- 9ft width with Grayhawk = 31.7

- 9ft width with Firehawk = 43.3

- 10ft width with Grayhawk = 25.7

- 10ft width with Firehawk = 35.1


So, what'd you think you'd use? Thanks again.
 

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Assuming the Runco ANSI lumens spec is fairly accurate and your numbers are good, I'd say *any* of those setups would be more than fine in terms of brightness *if* you intend to watch in darkness in your room that has 100% light control (some people prefer to have a light or two on when watching a movie, which all but forces them to compromise for a higher gain screen that one would ordinarily see in such a setup).


Personally, I'd go with the Grayhawk (the Firehawk is really intended for use in low ambient light situations and offers a tighter viewing cone, which may or may not hurt you); whether the 9' or 10' screen is better suited for the room would probably best be determined based on your intended seating layout. Also, don't arbitrarily exclude your dealer's input in all of this--they should be able to help guide your decisions, and based on the price of the equipment you're looking at, they better be offering their input/opinion or actually showing you what the various scenarios look like to help you make an informed decision. Said another way, better to buy based on what your eyes tell you (assuming that your dealer can show you) than to listen to a stranger on a chat board. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by amillians
Assuming the Runco ANSI lumens spec is fairly accurate and your numbers are good, I'd say *any* of those setups would be more than fine in terms of brightness *if* you intend to watch in darkness in your room that has 100% light control (some people prefer to have a light or two on when watching a movie, which all but forces them to compromise for a higher gain screen that one would ordinarily see in such a setup).


Personally, I'd go with the Grayhawk (the Firehawk is really intended for use in low ambient light situations and offers a tighter viewing cone, which may or may not hurt you); whether the 9' or 10' screen is better suited for the room would probably best be determined based on your intended seating layout. Also, don't arbitrarily exclude your dealer's input in all of this--they should be able to help guide your decisions, and based on the price of the equipment you're looking at, they better be offering their input/opinion or actually showing you what the various scenarios look like to help you make an informed decision. Said another way, better to buy based on what your eyes tell you (assuming that your dealer can show you) than to listen to a stranger on a chat board. :)
Thanks. I have always depended on the kindness of strangers :)
 

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thegratingone,


A bit off the topic, but... Isn't it that the Runco VX-5000ci is significantly more expensive street than other Mustang/HD2 DLP's on the market? I have seen it at my local high-end HT dealer, and felt it was NO BETTER OR BRIGHTER than other (more popular) Mustang-based projectors. Why the Runco??? My understanding is that the brand may be good but is badly overpriced... I believe that there are much better ways to spend the same (generous) amount of $$$. I would definitely reconsider the choice.


[added in edit] For example, this Panasonic can be had probably for less than the Runco, and it is 3-chip DLP with 5,000 rated lumens. Being 3-chip, you will not risk exposing your guests to possibly devastating rainbows, not to mention the much better color saturation. It is quiet, too. Its rated CR is less than the Runco and other Mustang projectors, but here you are comparing consumer specs versus professional specs. According to various reports, the projected image is simply stunning and bright (incidentally, most professional digital cinema projectors used in commercial movie theaters are rated 1000:1-1200:1 -- no overrating here).


[added further] Another awesome choice would be the brand new Yamaha DPX-1000 . It can be had for a fraction of Runco's price, but features a super-flexible color adjustments based directly on the CIE chart among other things, which the Runco cannot possibly match.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The Pananasonic seems like an awesome machine, but here are my concerns versus the Runco VX-5000ci:


- The Runco uses the new mustang chip which is supposedly better for blacks and is native 16:9, as opposed to the Panasonic which is 4:3


- The Runco has from a contrast of 2500 vs. 1000 for the Panasonic; I'm new to this stuff, but I'm told this can be as important as Lumens


- The Runco's "optics" are supposedly great (i.e., great picture compared to others), I don't know this myself, only reading reviews


- The Runco's packaged scaler is great


I'd love to hear your (or others) thoughts!


Thanks.




Quote:
Originally posted by sushi
thegratingone,


A bit off the topic, but... Isn't it that the Runco VX-5000ci is significantly more expensive street than other Mustang/HD2 DLP's on the market? I have seen it at my local high-end HT dealer, and felt it was NO BETTER OR BRIGHTER than other (more popular) Mustang-based projectors. Why the Runco??? My understanding is that the brand may be good but is badly overpriced... I believe that there are much better ways to spend the same (generous) amount of $$$. I would definitely reconsider the choice.


[added in edit] For example, this Panasonic can be had probably for less than the Runco, and it is 3-chip DLP with 5,000 rated lumens. Being 3-chip, you will not risk exposing your guests to possibly devastating rainbows, not to mention the much better color saturation. It is quiet, too. Its rated CR is less than the Runco and other Mustang projectors, but here you are comparing consumer specs versus professional specs. According to various reports, the projected image is simply stunning and bright (incidentally, most professional digital cinema projectors used in commercial movie theaters are rated 1000:1-1200:1 -- no overrating here).


[added further] Another awesome choice would be the brand new Yamaha DPX-1000 . It can be had for a fraction of Runco's price, but features a super-flexible color adjustments based directly on the CIE chart among other things, which the Runco cannot possibly match.
 

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The reality is that Runco does extract a price premium from customers for the name--Runco basically defined home theater, and they have a very strong dealer network, where customer service is the driving mantra (not that everyone would agree, though, but Runco has been known to do amazing things to make customers happy, and I was once a happy, if newbie, Runco customer). Yes, they essentially rebadge existing products, but that doesn't necessarily take away from the value add that they *can* provide vis a vis their dealers and ongoing support. The 5000ci is by all accounts an excellent--albeit expensive--machine, as was the 5000c before it...the lens options alone are worth the price of admission for some. To some, the 5000ci is absurdly expensive; to others, the price reflects the value perceived from the whole package--not just the absolute performance. Some people argue that a Corvette is a great ride, others wouldn't be caught dead in anything less than a Porsche...at least we all have options.


The DT-7500 is really in a different category. Bright, yes, but not well suited for a typical home theater, and not marketed by Panasonic as such, so you're going to have basically zero chance to demo one. Add the cost of the lens ($3,300-$6,500), an outboard scaler (the internal scaler options are weak relative to what the SOTA can do today) and the all but mandatory hushbox (all 3 chippers are loud), and you're probably right back in the price ballpark of the 5000ci, depending upon your negotiations skills. Factor in the lack of DVI/HDCP support, the native 4:3 array, the relatively poor contrast ratio, etc. and the 5000ci doesn't look like too bad a deal! :)


sushi has a very valid point, though--before you plop down some $25,000 odd on a 5000ci, it wouldn't be a bad idea to demo what the other HD2 PJs can offer (e.g., the Yamaha, etc.), as they can offer it for less than half what the 5000ci can. Then you can decide for yourself if the cost delta is worth it.
 

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Quote:
In reality the actual number should be 8, it just that some people think that the lumens given by projector makers are a little too high and if lumens were actually measured, they would be alot less than what is advertised. So in order to be safe 16 has become the number to use based on advertised lumens and not independent lab tested numbers.
Daniel, are you being serious about 8 ftL? I see people recommending over 20-30 ftL, and I wonder how they could stand it so bright. My calibrated HS10 actually measures about 10-12 ftL, depending on aspect ratio & filter choices. Most members here usually say that's too low, but it looks pretty bright to me. I wouldn't mind it a tiny bit brighter, but double or triple?
 

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Quote:


The Pananasonic seems like an awesome machine, but here are my concerns versus the Runco VX-5000ci:


- The Runco uses the new mustang chip which is supposedly better for blacks and is native 16:9, as opposed to the Panasonic which is 4:3


- The Runco has from a contrast of 2500 vs. 1000 for the Panasonic; I'm new to this stuff, but I'm told this can be as important as Lumens


- The Runco's "optics" are supposedly great (i.e., great picture compared to others), I don't know this myself, only reading reviews


- The Runco's packaged scaler is great
(1) The Panasonic cited above are fairly new, and also uses the latest 12-degree DMD chips. The PT-D7600U is 1280x1024, so the resolution is identical to the Mustang when used as a 16:9 projector. The PT-D7500U would be 1024x576 when used as a 16:9 projector.


(2) Yes, contrast ratio is, if any, more important spec than the lumens. However, like I said, we are comparing here specs oriented towards the consumer versus professional markets. So it is almost meaningless to parallel these numbers. Both projectors use 12-degree chips, so the inherent CR of the light engine should be very similar.


(3) I am almost certain that both projectors use an OEM optics from one of Japanese or German lens makers (e.g., Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Zeiss, Leica... -- I know that Panasonic has a close tie with Leica). Anyway, given the price range of these projectors, optics should be top-notch one way or another. Also, the improvement brought about by a good projection lens is subtle as compared with the fundamental difference of one-chip versus three-chip designs. IMHO, it is almost ridiculous that Runco dare sell a one-chip DLP for the price for which you can actually buy a three-chip professional machine. I also bet that, among one-chip DLPs, the Yamaha DPX-1000 and the Marantz 12S2 are better projectors than the Runco.


(4) With regard to the scaler, I PM'ed you. Bottom line: there is no technical reason to use a separate scaler. It is better to let projector's onboard scaler do the job (as long as it is decent -- at this price range, it is).


Oh, btw, I remember that ProjectorCentral once published a "Runco bashing" article with regard to the company's marketing strategies (believe it was a part of a Runco review). I am usually skeptical about their comments, but I had to agree with that one. You may want to take a look at the article.
 

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Quote:
The DT-7500 is really in a different category. Bright, yes, but not well suited for a typical home theater, and not marketed by Panasonic as such, so you're going to have basically zero chance to demo one.
Right. The panasonic is definitely NOT marketed as hometheater projector (although they are very capable cinema projectors, as you see in the brochure). However, because of that very reason, if you express a serious interest in the product, the Panasonic dealer will gladly visit your own home or workplace to personally demo the machine -- something you cannot usually expect in the HT market. In the installation projector market, those visitation sales practice is a routine. I have done that several times at work, for large data projectors. If you have several 10K dollars to spend, it is definitely worth a call.


As for the fan noise, the Panasonic is amazingly quiet as a tri-DLP, with rated 38dB -- about the same as the Sanyo PLV-70.


Believe me, as I posted previously, I have seen one of those 3-chip DLP light canons at one of my local "high-end hometheater" dealers. It was truly awesome with a large screen. Right in the next room, a Runco and Sim2 Mustang looked "faded." (but of course, the Mustangs looked great next day. LOL) :D
 

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My personal opinion about the "optimal" screen brightness (ftLs) is that there is no solid universal rules on it -- it is all up to personal preferences.


There is no convincing reason to "simulate" the screen brightness of commercial movie theater, either. Because the brightness of commercial theater is primarily limited by the 24 fps frame rate of the film-based projection -- in order for the audience not to see the flicker, the brightness has to be limited at fairly low levels.


IMHO, a brighter image has its own visuo-psychologic impact -- you tend to feel more like "within-the-scene" with a brighter image. However, as we see in various threads here, some people just do not like a bright image. It is an eye sore for them.


So, all things considered, the optimal brightness is up to personal preference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by sushi
(1) The Panasonic cited above are fairly new, and also uses the latest 12-degree DMD chips. The PT-D7600U is 1280x1024, so the resolution is identical to the Mustang when used as a 16:9 projector. The PT-D7500U would be 1024x576 when used as a 16:9 projector.


(2) Yes, contrast ratio is, if any, more important spec than the lumens. However, like I said, we are comparing here specs oriented towards the consumer versus professional markets. So it is almost meaningless to parallel these numbers. Both projectors use 12-degree chips, so the inherent CR of the light engine should be very similar.


(3) I am almost certain that both projectors use an OEM optics from one of Japanese or German lens makers (e.g., Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Zeiss, Leica... -- I know that Panasonic has a close tie with Leica). Anyway, given the price range of these projectors, optics should be top-notch one way or another. Also, the improvement brought about by a good projection lens is subtle as compared with the fundamental difference of one-chip versus three-chip designs. IMHO, it is almost ridiculous that Runco dare sell a one-chip DLP for the price for which you can actually buy a three-chip professional machine. I also bet that, among one-chip DLPs, the Yamaha DPX-1000 and the Marantz 12S2 are better projectors than the Runco.


(4) With regard to the scaler, I PM'ed you. Bottom line: there is no technical reason to use a separate scaler. It is better to let projector's onboard scaler do the job (as long as it is decent -- at this price range, it is).


Oh, btw, I remember that ProjectorCentral once published a "Runco bashing" article with regard to the company's marketing strategies (believe it was a part of a Runco review). I am usually skeptical about their comments, but I had to agree with that one. You may want to take a look at the article.
Thanks for being so patient with my ignorance. If I can demonstrate it some more with a little follow-up.... How is it meaningless to compare contrasts just because one is a professional machine? Aren't the #s the #s?


Also, a more mundane question, who would be my "local panasonic dealer" if it's not usually used for home theater? I don't know a "Panasonic Store"!! What kind of dealer would that be? Just trying to figure out how to follow-up on your suggestion.
 

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Yes, numbers are numbers. But unfortunately, consumer projector specs (especially contrast ratio and lumens) have a notorious tendency to be overrated by many vendors, to the extent that they are often meaningless for inter-brand comparisons. Some vendors seem more "honest," including Epson and NEC. At any rate, I have learned not to believe any rated numbers when it comes to consumer projectors. Only the actual third-party measurements and visual auditioning will tell you the truth.


Regarding the "how to buy" question, why don't you try the Dealer Locator on Panasonic's Broadcast and Professional Video web site. Also, you can always call them and ask them about your local dealers.


[added in edit] In general, those dealers (whose main customers are corporates and institutions) do not have a "store" -- they just have offices. Most will be willing to arrange a demo at your home (if you have a screen), work, or in their office.
 

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Quote:
Daniel, are you being serious about 8 ftL? I see people recommending over 20-30 ftL, and I wonder how they could stand it so bright. My calibrated HS10 actually measures about 10-12 ftL, depending on aspect ratio & filter choices. Most members here usually say that's too low, but it looks pretty bright to me. I wouldn't mind it a tiny bit brighter, but double or triple
I am no expert, but this is what I have been told. Look at the CRTs, I doubt if the ones with bigger screens ever go above your 12. I would also recommend 20 - 30 because this is based on lumens numbers given by the manufacturers and not what the actual projector is doing.


What we are doing is really comparing apples and oranges. FTlb based on spec and ftlb based on reality
 

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If you were going to use the projector in a room with other lights on, then a high FtL number is OK. If you are going to be in a totally dark room, then you want a lower FtL number. Think about watching an RPTV. Almost every RPTV is higher in FtL output than a FPTV system. They are meant to watch with other light and if you watch at night, you are supposed to kick on a light behind the TV for biasing.


The reason people get sore eyes is not that the image is too bright but that the pupils most dilate and shrink so much between bright and dim scenes. We would have this same problem in real life if we went from broad daylight to night and back and forth every few moments.


Digital projectors will not get as dark as CRT units, so your eyes don't open up as much and the effort for your eyes to dilate from really open to half way is more than from really small to half way. In effect, you will have a sort of bias lighting from the gray in a total dark scene. While not as good as real bias lighting, it is enough. I have no problems watching my digital projector at night, but I do have a problem with my RPTV if I don't put my light on behind the left speaker.


If you have total light control, I would think that 8 FtL should be enough, but I won't be able to test it yet. In about a month, I will have a double stack of NEC XG-110LC projectors on a 9' wide screen. I can just turn one on and see how it looks at 8.5 ftlb vs. both on at 17 ftlb, using a 1.5 gain screen. Perhaps I should drop down to a 1.3 gain? A 1.3 gain will give me 7.4 ftlb with one projector and 14.8 with both.
 
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