The gear that magically outputs light to form a beautiful images can be a complex piece of equipment to understand. Here are basics to help navigate the emerging types of projectors available on today's market.
LUKE MCELROY · September 7, 2017
DLP (Digital Light Projection):
This technology actually has a circus going on inside of it. Not really, but there is a light source (just like LCD has) aimed at a wall of a chip made up of up to 2 million micro mirrors that reflect light. To create white, the mirrors move to allow light to pass through. To create black, they move to reflect light away from the lens. All this movement produces a black and white image. (It’s like a disco ball).
To create color, a wheel of colored glass in front of the light source changes color as needed, before it passes into the mirrors. Put simply, DLP technology is light reflecting on a mirror, in order to project an image. At an event in Nashville, a three-chip DLP Barco 20k Flex projector was used in conjunction with a pair of Christie LHD700 LCD projectors. The Christie projectors were on smaller rear projected screens, approximately a third of the size of the larger screen being used by the Barco.
In theory, the images should have been roughly the same brightness, with a likely scenario where the 7k would appear brighter than the 20k, because of the rear projection, versus the front-projected Barco. The result was stunning, though, when comparing the contrast ratio, clarity of image and overall “pop” of the DLP projector, the Barco was the obvious winner in terms of performance.
This is the newest form of projection technology, and only a limited number of companies are manufacturing them. Due to their out-of-the-box expense, laser projectors are still fairly rare compared to the overall availability of all types of projectors on the market.
In essence this technology uses a laser instead of using a lamp to create the light, and allows the lasers to be focused into the lens, thus creating a stunningly bright and crisp image. My head of live events at Orange Thread Media has worked with a Christie Captiva D400S laser ultra-short throw projector, for example, and it proved to be a solid performer compared to an LCD projector, the Hitachi CP-A352WN – but one must take into account that it runs about three times more expensive — while being drastically brighter, offering an impressive contrast ratio and operating in a nearly silent state.
Second, we need to talk about brightness. Projector brightness is measured in lumens (technically “ANSI lumens”). However, not all projectors with 3,000 lumens are identical, but the number of lumens should give you a rough benchmark on brightness. Simply put, the more “lumens” a projector has, the brighter a projector is.