CONSIDER YOUR “THEATER”
For photographers, projectors can be a bit confusing thanks to the flood of available models, but there are key factors that are important to the image-intensive displays that photographers present. One of the most important things to look at when comparing projectors is how many lumens it can project. A lumen is a measurement of the overall brightness of a projector. Lumens from 1000 to 2000 are enough for home viewing in dim rooms, while anything above that is adequate for larger rooms. You also want a higher lumen rating if you need to overpower ambient lighting. So, consider where you typically project to decide how much output you need.
Projection distance is important, as well. Many projectors, but not all, have a zoom lens for sizing images to the screen or wall, a much better option than having to move the projector each time you need to make adjustments. Another thing to consider is the aspect ratio of the projector, which refers to the width and length of the projected presentation. Better models often include a variety of aspect ratios in one projector, and selecting the best output dimensions for your photography depends on your images and the screen.
Projection resolution also has had a big boost in recent years because of high definition. While still costly, more consumers are using projectors to watch HD movies. XGA (1024×768) and SXGA+ (1400×1050) resolutions are more than acceptable for photos, and the extra expense of HD resolutions at WXGA-H (1280×720) and HD (1920×1080) may be a good idea if you’re also planning to use the projector as part of your home theater system. HD resolutions offer a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, while the native format of XGA and SXGA+ is in 4:3, the same as the boxy size of classic television sets.
Keystone correction is a somewhat standard feature on most projector models, though not all have it. “Keystone” refers to the trapezoid shape of projected images that appear when projecting from an angle beneath the screen. Be aware that the more you use keystone correction, the more that you’re playing with the image’s true resolution, so you can lose sharpness and distort your image. It’s best to set up the projector as close to perfect as possible physically and then use keystone correction if it’s still necessary.