5 Steps to a Brighter Projector
I have done it a thousand times. I’ve turned on the projector in my room or at my event and wanted it to have just that little extra punch. But here’s what I’ve learned, the brightness menu item really doesn’t do anything, right? Maybe it’s there so we psychologically think we’re improving our projector output levels.
So how do you brighten your projector if you can’t just increase the projector setting within the internal menu? Here are 5 ways to brighten your projector that I’ve learned throughout the years to get a little better punch out of your projected images and make those projectors look a bit brighter.
The brightness menu item on the projector really doesn’t do anything, right?
1. Check your Lamp Hours.
I know what you’re saying, “duh Luke, changing the bulb will make it brighter.” But instead of merely suggesting you replace the bulb, I want to help you know why your lamp hours matter. The manufacturer will tell you that your projector has a certain number of hours on it. Those numbers don’t count down to the end of it’s life or when they expect it to blow out. Instead, the lamp hours number represents when the bulb will be at half brightness. Most projectors only suggest 1000-2000 lamp hours. So if your lamp hours are beyond that number, you should see roughly double the brightness when you replace your bulb. If it’s only a few hundred hours, replacing the lamp won’t make that much of a difference. First step, check your lamp hours!
2. Adjust your Gamma.
This is a trick I learned a while back with LCD Projectors. Gamma is the black level adjustment. Often I can get away with a boost of a few numbers before the image begins looking “greyed out”. This means your gamma is too high. But the first few times you adjust it, you likely will see your whites get brighter before you notice the black’s are actually a bit grey. This is the single best trick if you’re doing environmental projection or using front project screens because the contrast ratio isn’t going to be as high as a rear project screen.
3. Reduce your Ambient Light
If you’re still trying your best to get a little more brightness out of your projector and the other two options haven’t worked yet, then do everything you can to reduce your ambient light. Examples of ambient light would be any extra light that comes through windows with weak, translucent or non-existent shades, stage wash that bounces off white walls into the screen surface, and house or overhead lighting to light the room or seats. By reducing the amount of ambient light in your room, you’ll make your surface that you are trying to project on a bit darker. When your surface has less ambient light, your projection will appear brighter because you’ve lowered the contrast. There’s nothing harsher on your projection output than sunlight and other ambient light bleed.
4. Keep your air vents clean.
One of the biggest mistakes in making your projectors bright is to have neglected the air vents. When your air vents are clean, the projector is able to dissipate (or exhale) hot air efficiently. By being able to discharge the excess heat in a unit, the lamp can burn brighter for longer without strain. This technique may not increase the brightness, but it will prolong your brightness over time. It’s good practice to clean your air vents on the projectors you use on a monthly or quarterly basis. Especially after you get a new lamp put in.
5. Adjust your Input Source.
Lastly, if you are looking to increase projector brightness, and all of the other options still aren’t enough, you can try adjusting your input source. This won’t change your blacks or your whites, but any of the shades that are between them, and help give the perception that your entire image is brighter. By adjusting you input source (via a software, or custom color calibration on your computer or output device), you can increase the brightness and contrast settings slightly to increase the overall output. I often will boost brightness by about 10% and increase contrast as well. This will help make your mid range colors seem a tad brighter, and give you the desired look.
I hope this list of 5 ways to brighten your projector helps you get the best bang for your buck. If you’ve tried anything specific in the past that has allowed you to brighten the projectors you own, please feel free to share it with us on Facebook!