When helping churches implement Environmental Projection, the biggest question we solve is “How bright of a projector does my church need?”
And that’s the big question! However, before we can answer that, there is a big and frustrating elephant in the room that we need bring up – the true brightness of projectors. I know it seems simple: When your church needs a projector, you simply pull up a few spec sheets on a few projectors and buy the one with the highest brightness. Right? Nope. Please don’t do that; for the sake of your tithe dollars. Let’s explore why.
The brightness of most projectors are measured in lumens, and often you will see “ANSI lumens” – they are the same thing, but ANSI (American National Standards Institute) is an organization that tries to dictate and regulate the brightness of projectors.
Sounds pretty official, right? Well, the trouble is they don’t dictate (nor regulate) every little tiny factor and variable that can come into play when measuring the brightness of a projector. Everything can affect the brightness. (Screen surface, distance, ambient light, the source/signal, lenses..etc.)
(Disclaimer: this is insider knowledge from a few top projector dealers and manufactures – I did not personally knock on ANSI’s door and ask. However, the proof is all around us: brightness of projectors do not necessarily match up)
Add into the mix that no two manufacturers rate their brightness identically.
True case in point: (Names changed to protect the guilty)
Projector Company A: Released a model in 2006, rated at 4000 ANSI lumens This company was the designer and original seller of this projector.
Projector Company B: Released a model in 2007, rated at 5000 ANSI lumens. This projector company did not design or manufacture their own projectors, but simply BOUGHT a projectors from another company, in this case, from Projector Company A.
The problem: those two projectors were the exact same price…and the EXACT same model. They simply have a different name on the top. Consumers are naturally drawn to the “brighter” projectors for the same money, when in reality that projector wasn’t rated true.
The 1 Main Truth: No two projectors are rated the same
Equate lumens to gas mileage: laboratory tests and real-world are two VERY different things.
If you remember nothing else, remember this: Get a demo before you buy. I cannot stress this enough. Being a good steward means buying the RIGHT projector for your church, not simply the cheapest or brightest.
Two Main Factors that affect projector brightness:
1. Projector Age
When consulting for churches, many pastors will tell me:
“Camron – we have a 6-year-old, 10,000 lumen projector. We would like to use that for Environmental Projection.”
You know the projector: size of your car and cost as much as your house.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not 10,000 lumens anymore. I could walk in to your church with a projector I fit in my carry-on and it would be brighter than that old projector. It’s the nature of technology.
Projectors are NOT like cars or houses – they are like DVD players or cell phones. Use it for a short time, then donate it, move it to a small classroom, or toss it in the dumpster.
2. Color Engine
We won’t get into the whole DLP or LCD debate here , but know this: Single-chip DLP (which is what most churches get drawn to) do NOT output the same COLOR brightness as 3-panel LCD does. Furthermore, I recently learned from a manufacturer that DLP projectors are also rated a little differently when it comes to lumens.
You want the WHITE brightness and COLOR brightness number to be the same.
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