• hi all

    after a little break i'm back into the isadora arena - i'm researching generative visuals for a percussion trio for use in small venues.

    i want to project isadora's output and i'm trying to find on ebay a cheap projector to use for my ongoing research - the project is unfunded so scraping together money to buy something secondhand.

    i'd like some advice / reaction to the topic of balancing resolution with light output and contrast ratio.

    i'm trying to work towards a high resolution (1280x800) 3000 luman 15,000:1 projector because i figure those numbers are going to give a higher quality image.  these specs come at a price that i'm not sure i can currently find.

    so being back in the real world i'm looking at older 1024x768 or 800x600 resolution projectors.

    i'm posting today as the many variables in the equation are making it difficult to resolve and move forward.

    i'm starting to wonder if 800x600 might be the way to go as the computational load on the mac is lower than 1024x768.  is this a good way of thinking ?

    is trying to hold out for at least 1000:1 contrast ratio a good plan.  i'm considering 3 lcd projectors and my preference for manufacturer is epson - these projectors seem to be of high quality.

    what might be the lowest light output to consider ?  1500 lumens ?

    any advice or recommendations are welcome as i think the more i try to find something to work with the less i know what i'm doing.

  • @particlep


    I think you forget something important in the equation, the throw ratio. Most of used projector are around 2:1 and it's too much for majority of venues.

    Its depend of your scenography but I recommend a ratio something between 0.5:1 and 1.5:1 so you have no problem of space.

    Comparing definition is not only a question of pixels number but also of ratio

    1280x800 is 16:10, quite similar to 16:9 HD and you can easily project 720p clips

    1280x1024 and 800x600 are 4:3, useful if you want to make soft edge blending but frustrating if you need image on top of performers

    concerning lumens, I recommend 2500/3000 lumens for minimum, if you want the video matches stage light.

    Contrast is not the most important for this kind of use, 1000:1 is a minimum but if you need a real black you will need a shutter for each projector.

    For a performance I bought 3 Epson EB-1780W: 3000 lumens, 1280X800,contrast 10000:1, throw 1.03–1.26:1, very small and light, 700€/each

    I am very happy with it, I can travel with the 3 in 1 case, equipped with photo ball heads for each one, its really fast to set and they are only 5cm high so you can use it with very low ceiling.

    I really don't recommend to buy used projectors, its difficult to find matching ones and you dont know the story of it, machine time, lamp time, transportation etc. many used projector come from event organization and I don't trust the care they put on it.

    That's my experience.


  • Beta Platinum

    @particlep said:

    800x600 might be the way to go

    I think you will find going to 800x600 resolution will be the most frustrating thing ever. I don't think there is any current application interface that will fit on such a small number of pixels. I hate not being able to click through settings - because the 'OK' button is somewhere off screen and the interface window can't be moved any further to reach it - that's what 800 x 600 resolution is like! Setting them up is a crazy nightmare.

    I would be looking to get as close to HD resolution as possible. All of @jhoepffner recommendations are good. I have an Epson EB-U130 1920x1200 3000 lmns 15,000:1 contrast. It was purchased at an office supply chain cheaply and comes with 2 years warranty.

    If cost is an issue - the other thing that has worked for me is purchasing matching projectors that are ex-demonstration units from a distributor, I was able to get four matching projectors at half the retail price with full warranty intact. These projectors had an average lamp usage of only 25 hours each at the time.

    The only caveat, I have about the Epson units is that the LCD throws out a lot of grey-black light compared to DLP and Laser options available through NEC and Sony. Epson definitely win on price comparison though.

    best wishes,


  • Tech Staff

    The brightness of the projectors really depends on the ambient lighting in the venue, however, the most important factor is not necessarily the raw output but the output vs the size of the image you want to create, which is dependent on the throw distance as well.

    If you want to create an image roughly than 4 to 6 square feet -- about the size of a 32" TV -- 1500 to 2000 lumens is fine, provided you'll be in a dark environment with no direct light hitting the projection surface, and you're projecting onto a white screen with good gain.

    If you want to create a projection surface about the size of a person, I really wouldn't consider anything less than 4000 lumens. As soon as projections get this large they usually have to contend with a lot more ambient light.

    You can achieve a lot with a little, but knowing more about the types of spaces you'll be working in and the kinds of effects you want to create will help us recommend you further.

  • thank you for the comments so far.  throw distance is something i am aware of yet not thought of too much as yet.

    @mc_monte said:

    but knowing more about the types of spaces you'll be working in and the kinds of effects you want to create will help us recommend you further.

    the project is so fresh currently, the types of effects and the spaces we'll play in are both a little unchartered.  i have a loose ideas about how to accompany the two drummers and percussionist.  the conversations so far have centred around how the trio have been playing together for a while and want to involve visual components in the performance - they are also talking with two dancers. 

    for me its an opportunity to play and create.  the trio play in an improvised manner so it lends itself to coding / generative visuals in real time.

    i feel i need a projector to start to get a feel for what works and what does not.  the whole where to project is open at this stage.

    having posted this morning and read the comments so far i have a better understanding of why choosing a projector to begin with is so difficult.

    i've even considered ultra short throw projectors as a way of getting good image size with little throw distance.

    my strategy for development so far has been to play with isadora and make many different sketches with multiple scenes and when i get a rehearsal - play with what i have a see how it lines up.  bit vague maybe but then what isn't vague with the whole thing !

    so reflecting upon my thinking so far i'm after getting hold of a projector that can get me started, be bright enough to be used in a small venue / rehearsal situation, high enough resolution to be meaningful and colours dense enough to be interesting. this is of course with no funding so its coming out of my new smartphone fund - so trying not to spend a fortune leaves me going around in circles chasing the best value for money.

  • Beta Platinum

    @particlep said:

    getting hold of a projector that can get me started, be bright enough to be used in a small venue


    It might be worth having a look at this article posted by @Mark last year about arranging multiple stages for best performance. If you are concerned about resolution and performance when setting up your projectors, this article outlines best practice. 

    Good luck with your bargain hunting a good machine at the right price has got to be out there somewhere.

    best wishes


  • @bonemap said:

    Good luck with your bargain hunting a good machine at the right price has got to be out there somewhere.

    and thank you for sharing the link  - it's brought home to me the importance of resolution consideration.

    i have several auctions on ebay being watched. hopefully updates to follow.