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Friday, September 1, 2006

Living With A Digital Projector

Are today's digital projectors ready for photographers? Are slideshows back?

Working with a single projector also helps you better control the projection process, which will make the experience better, too. What does that mean? I've worked with all sorts of projectors as I do programs around the country. Some make my photos look great, others make them look terrible. With one projector, I can control its setup and I know what it can and can't do, so I can control the images so they look their best on that projector.

An aside: you might wonder which projectors made my photos look good and which bad so you can avoid the "bad" projectors. That idea doesn't work. I've had the same projector brand and model give good and bad results, depending on the venue. When lots of people use the projectors, they get tweaked and changed so the results aren't consistent.

It's possible to do some color calibration of projectors. ColorVision Spyder2 offers an affordable solution, but it isn't practical to calibrate every projector you might run into on the road (you're actually calibrating your computer's interaction with the projector). Calibration works great for the "single-photographer" projector, though, because you can set up the projector with your laptop (or other computer) once and count on its color. You do have to recalibrate over time (depending on the projector and how much it's used), but that then becomes an occasional adjustment.

The Epson PowerLite 755c gave great colors right out of the box. One consistent problem I've found with projectors is that they frequently make photos too warm and saturated. The Epson-projected photos were pleasantly warm and didn't make colors look too saturated. Calibration even made it a bit better.

I'm no computer engineer, and while I know a bit about the different technologies for projection, I can't explain why they work better or worse for certain types of colors. Epson is big on the three-LCD approach, and in general, most photographers seem to like what this technology does for photography. I thought the projected photos looked excellent, so I suppose this is a credit to the three-LCD technology.

You may have heard that Canon has a superb technology in its new Realis projectors called LCOS. I've seen the results, and photos look great. However, these projectors are quite expensive now, though perhaps worth the cost for the photographer who wants the very best in photographic projection and can afford it.


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