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Not Your Fathers Projector

June 18, 2009 - Dave Hecei
We can now say that photography is now digital. While film is still available, the quality and prices are so low on digital cameras allowing everyone to shoot digitally. Some photographers print their photos at home, while most take them to the nearest ‘mart’ store or drug store. Some even upload their latest pics to a photo website ( for others to enjoy.

I started out in photography shooting black and white film. This was cheap and I thought easier because I soon had a darkroom set up in my parents basement. Later I started shooting color and when I learned a thing or two, started shooting mostly slide film. I have piles of 2x2 color slides, some of which are in those ubiquitous Carousel circular trays. I even had a few dual projector slide shows, set to music, that I would occasionally show at garden clubs or other groups. Now that we’ve all gone digital it’s time for a digital slide projector.

There are basically two types of digital projectors – business class and video class. Business class is the typical Power Point projector. It’s designed to project mostly static computer images. A video class projector is designed for home theatre settings. It is used to watch DVD movies and TV shows.

Deciding which type to buy take a little bit of knowledge of what the main use is going to be and how much you will use it. If you need a projector for occasional shows, then a lower cost business type would work. If you want to produce a more professional looking show, then a video class or high-resolution projector would be best.

Today’s business class projectors can easily be found for under $1000 and if you bargain shop you should be able to find nice ones close to $500. When looking at the specifications for a business projector you need to look at three things: brightness, contrast, and resolution. Also remember that higher specs usually mean higher prices. A good projector is going to have a brightness of 1800 lumens and a native resolution (the word native is very important) of 1024x768 or higher. Contrast isn’t quite as important but you will want something above 1300 to 1 (sometimes listed as 1300:1). Some of the newer models are appearing with wide-screen format projection systems. While this is great for watching DVDs it is not so great for slide shows, unless all of your images are in landscape and none in portrait (i.e vertical).

Movie class projectors have an imager designed for showing moving video. These are usually much more expensive, usually over $1000 and some in the several thousand range. These projectors will most likely project in the 16:9 or 16:10 wide-screen format. If you want to buy a projector for occasional slide shows and then use it mostly for home theatre use, this type of projector would work just fine. While a slide show is usually a static image you can use a program like Power Point or Keynote to create dissolves and animations for a more professional look. Also, a movie type projector is capable of higher resolutions making your images look sharper with more detail.


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