Projectors 101 — The Basics
TechDecision Guide to 4K Projectors

TechDecision Guide Series

4K Video Projectors
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Which projector is right for you? To help you choose, learn what lumens, throw distance, contrast ratio mean and more.
By TechDecisions

The drama of a projected image can help convey your message. Used pragmatically, projectors can show the highest quality image detail with exact calibrated colors and convey a message to a massive — or private — audience. They can also save space and be portable. Used like digital signage, projectors can project animated and interactive graphics or logos to make your venue, message, or advertisement look polished.

There is no de facto projector that does-it-all because every install is different. Depending on your use, the model, specifications, and price will vary. Projector prices range from $250 to $250,000, so start by knowing your budget limitations. Here are some basic terms and explanations to help along the way.

Lenses: Projectors use zoom or fixed lenses. Zoom Lenses have a zoom ratio that determines image size and throw distance. A fixed lens does not zoom. Instead, the projected image size is determined by the projector’s distance from the screen. The lens choice depends on the application and the distance the projector needs to be from the screen. Lenses and throw distance go hand-in-hand. Many inexpensive (below $10K) projectors ship with a lens, whereas higher-end projectors have a bevy of lenses from which to choose from, depending on your throw distance and application.

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Throw Distance: How far will the projector be from the screen? Will it hang behind the audience? Will it sit on a conference table? Will it hide in a cabinet in the corner of the room? Will it face down or hang at an angle? Find the projector and lens that will work by knowing your throw distance. Projectors project — or throw — light onto the screen, so a longer throw distance requires a brighter projector. Consider the zoom of the lens in order to get the proper image size. Lenses and projectors can be split up into long and short throw, depending on the distance the projector will be from the screen. There are several easy-to-use throw distance calculators provided by manufacturers to calculate the lens required, projector distance, and screen size.

Throw Chart from JVC DLA-F110E Projector
— Example throw chart.

Lumens: Lumens refers to the measurement of light output from the projector, or you can think of it as the brightness of a projector. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the projector — the brighter the room, the more lumens you need. If you are in a bright, sunlit room, where you cannot control the light, you need a projector with a couple thousand lumens


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Projectors 101 — The Basics

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