26/01/13Projector Test Avonway 18th Jan 2013
The current club projector, a Canon Xeed SX50, was purchased following a committee meeting decision on Thursday 24th November 2005. At the time all information available pointed to this being the best choice and subsequent experience showed this to be a good decision.
This projector failed, has been repaired and it is now apparent that the current performance is inadequate for the level of skill and the expectations within the club for a projector. The main defect is that the projector no longer gives a uniform gray which produces colour effects within a mono PDI.
In the price performance area that the club is interested in there are two technologies for projection, LCOS and 3LCD.
Several suppliers were studied on the internet and ProjectorPoint were chosen as a technically competent and an economic supplier.
The brief supplied to ProjectorPoint was to recommend Projectors at 1400*1050 px resolution minimum and a max price circa £3500 (inc VAT) which were for the projection of photographic images.
ProjectorPoint recommended three projectors
Canon  SX80 MkII  1400*1050 px  LCOS
Canon  WUX 4000  1920*1200 px  LCOS
Christie  LWU421  1920*1200 px  3*LCD
Christie is a manufacturer of high performance digital projectors.
ProjectorPoint were specifically asked if they would recommend any Epson projectors but stated that in the price performance bracket that had been specified they would not add an Epson to their recommendation.
It was decided to go beyond 1400*1050 px for the following reasons.
The higher pixel count has an element of future proofing. (1400*1050 was considered high when purchased in 2006, 1024*768 was the norm)
The club can afford the ‘best’
The activities that gain the most support are internal competitions and therefore although the higher pixel count is not accepted at other clubs it offers the best affordable performance for the club.
ProjectorPoint was also asked to recommend a screen as the new Avonway Screens are unsuitable for our exacting requirements. The recent use of an old club portable screen has demonstrated that its size, height and flatness give improvements that are significant. Unfortunately that screen still has problems.
ProjectorPoint agreed to supply projectors for a trial.
Due to the complexity of doing a trial Peter Staines formed a subcommittee of three ‘techies’ and three ‘eyes’ which he asked should make a recommendation to the committee.
Rex Waygood  Terry Turner
John Mahany  Yvonne Mitchell
Rupert Short  Sue Veal
The WUX4000 and the LWU421 were delivered on Wednesday 16th. On Thursday 17th 8 hours were spent by Rex, Rupert and Terry to gain some familiarity with the projectors, to do initial set up, ensure all software was working correctly, overcome any difficulties and ‘finalise’ the format of the trial.
Four projectors were compared.
The club SX50,
John Mahany’s SX60 (which John kindly lends to the club)
The Canon WUX4000
The Christie LWU421
The projectors were tested in the Avonway room with the club portable screen, in the format used for club competitions and using the club competition software. Two of the eyes only knew the projectors as A, B, C, & D. Terry was classed as an ‘eye’ but operated the computers!
The initial tests were done to confirm that the SX50 was producing a patchiness of colour on what should have been a uniform 50% gray (128,128,128).
Some further tests were done using Standard test images, contrast and tone checks. All these tests were done on all four projectors using 1400*1050 images.
The outcome of these tests was to stop testing the SX50 and SX60 and concentrate on testing the performance of the WUX4000 and the LWU421 as the performance of both of these projectors was in a different league. To be fair they are more modern and more professional projectors than the SX50/60.
The comparison then used 1600*1200 images. These are in the club standard 4:3 ratio and therefore gave us a good selection of images with which to perform the tests.
The Gray Test
This is a demanding test but important for the mono workers in the club.
The Canon outperformed the Christie but the performance of the Christie would have been acceptable.
The Zone Test
This is a test of the ability to show detail across the whole of the tonal range. The main areas of interest are the ‘white’ and the black’ ends. Both projectors performed well and there was no significant difference.
This is a high gamut image containing skin tones, a colour test area, a tone bar, white end test, black end test and various other tests.
Both projectors performed well.
First Real Image Test
Two images were used which contained areas of fine detail.
The first image was a mono image and had a girl in a patterned dress. The Canon out performed the Christie with the Christie showing some colouration in the patterned areas.
The second image contained a travelator with many parallel lines. The Canon rendered this with fewer patterns than the Christie but both were acceptable.
Ten further images were compared (Note two of the ‘eyes’ still only knew the projectors as B & C)
At the end of all these tests Yvonne and Sue, the two ‘eyes’, were asked to pick B or C. They picked B the Canon and only at that point was the projector identified. The remainder of the group also picked B. The technical attributes and costs of the projectors were not discussed until after the choice was made.
It is the unanimous decision of the group that the WUX4000 should be purchased for the club.
The projection also demonstrated defects with the club portable screen. The club should consider the purchase of a new portable screen possibly exploiting the full 1920*1200 format of the projector.
Written by Rex Waygood, 19/1/13
Reviewed and amended in accord with all members of the group.
Terry Turner Agreed + Amendment.
Sue Veal Agreed.
Yvonne Mitchell Agreed + error correction.
John Mahany Agreed.
Rupert Short Agreed + error correction
At the committee meeting of the 24th January the committee discussed the recommendation and decided to go ahead with the purchase of the WUX4000, a Draper 16:10 portable screen and a rugged carry case for the projector. The delivery of the projector is expected on the 28th and then the subcommittee need to work out the best setup before use.
As you may notice the new projector is not the 4:3 format, which is customarily used, and that the club has purchased a screen that would permit the full 16:10 image to be displayed if required.
The 1920*1200 px image has 57% more pixels than our normal 1400*1050 and 31% more if we operate it in 4:3 format (1600*1200)
As a club we need to decide how to operate the projector for internal competitions. So we are not asking for a formal answer at the moment but we will sort out a method of getting your input.
We will need a projector/screen arrangement that can be used at inter club competitions using 1400*1050 images. The club will have to continue producing that size of image for external competitions.
If we decide to limit ourselves to 1600*1200 px, a 4:3 format, then images will be easily reduced to 1400*1050 and the image will fill the screen in the same way as it would on a 1600*1200 screen.
If we decide to exploit the full 1920*1200 px for internal competitions then the images selected for external competition will not fill the screen in the same way, they will be slightly letterboxed.
Currently users of 4:3 format cameras have their full frame match the projector format. Users of 3:2 format cameras do not have a good match and have to crop to fit or have a letter box image. The 16:10 format isn't an exact match for either formats.
As said, you the members will need to think carefully about this and give your vote when asked.
If anyone wants to see the arithmetic I have played with the numbers, just ask.
I asked Rob Griffith from Native Digital (See Colour Train Check) to look at the report and he asked if we profiled the projectors. I apologise for not putting that in the report, it was unstated as it is almost a routine for us to do so. So yes all four projectors were profiled on the night or used a recently obtained profile.
The LCOS technology within the Canon was very new when the club first purchased the SX50 but shortly after it was chosen by the RPS for projection. At a recent RPS Digital Imaging Group, attended by Anne & John, the LCOS technology was confirmed as the most suitable technology for photographic projection although expensive.
Thanks to the sub committee for all the work put in and accepting the responsibility of making this important decision.
Thanks to the committee for accepting the recommendation and doing so speedily.
Thanks also to ProjectorPoint who supported the club with technical help and two demo projectors.