What Is A Good Contrast Ratio For A Projector?

By Arindam Roy

High contrast ratios allow you to see darker images better in different types of environments, which is great for watching movies outside on a sunny day.

High contrasts ratios display the full range of detail between whites and blacks while retaining the nuances of color shades in both light and dark scenes. This prevents video from looking washed out or overly contrasted to the point where it’s difficult to see or read anything. What’s more, many projectors also have low-power modes that can make them viable as a consumer electronics device that doubles as an emergency flashlight (or even TV) when the power goes out.

To evaluate the contrast ratio of a projector, determine its ANSI lumens rating, or determine the ANSI lumens rating and screen size of a projector to see if it meets your needs. High contrast ratios are also important if you’re planning to use your projector in a room with ambient light, such as an office space or living room.

Also read: What is contrast ratio in projector?

What is a good contrast ratio for a video projector? If you’re trying to determine whether or not your video projector has good contrast (which is one of the most important things about a high-quality video picture), there are many different ways to find out.

Most people can tell good video quality when they see it. They automatically trust and value other people who have seen it. Even if they can’t explain why, they just know it looks better than someone else’s similar setup. High contrast ratio is a handy indication of a good video picture.

#**Tip: The highest possible ANSI lumens rating that a projector will ever achieve is about 5,000, and the minimum lumens rating that an inexpensive projector can reach is about 100. So the higher your ANSI lumen rating requirement, the more expensive of a projector you’ll need to get (unless you’re willing to drop below 100 lumens).

Read more: How to install a projector?

However, keep in mind that the ANSI lumen rating of a projector only tells you what percentage of the light bulb is being used to draw power from a projector’s internal battery. While ANSI lumens is a decent way to roughly determine how efficient your projector will be (imagine your fixture lighting having an efficiency rating of 100 percent), it does not tell you how long your bulb will last. For example, if you draw 90 percent of its maximum power consumption from an internal battery, then the bulb will last for about 10 hours, and if you pull 30 percent of its maximum power consumption from an internal battery, then the bulb will last for about 350 hours.

If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of determining how long a bulb will last, you can comfortably assume that a projector with an ANSI lumens rating of 2,500 is much more expensive than one with a rating of 1,500 because it has both more light output and more power consumption.

Brightness of a video display is determined by the volume of light projecting from its screen onto your eyes. A projection unit can be described in terms of ANSI lumens (how many lumens are coming out), or it can be described in terms of contrast ratio (how many lumens go into your eyes). But this discussion only skims the surface. We’ll get down deeper later on.

Related post: How to test projector lamp is bad and how to measure projector screen

When you consider that a projector draws light out of a bulb, it should be obvious how brightness is determined. A given light bulb will take on an ANSI lumens rating by drawing more or less power from the socket (assuming no fluctuations in voltage). The more power drawn from the source, the greater percentage of that power will be converted to lumens. See how easy that was?

An easy way to think about this is how many watts it takes to make 100 watts worth of light output. Brightness is measured in lumens. The more lumens you draw, the brighter the bulb will be. Although some experts suggest that you shouldn’t rely too much on ANSI lumen ratings when buying a projector since they can vary widely, this guide has been written with both ANSI lumens ratings AND contrast ratio in mind. While we will discuss contrast ratio later on, it’s important to know how to interpret them, and understanding how brightness is determined as well can help you put numbers to everything going on with your projector.

Relevant reading: Best Projector for Home in India 2021

To check a projector’s ANSI lumen rating, follow these steps:

  • 1. Find out the manufacturer’s name of your device and search it online. Then type the model number in Google or Bing. (Sometimes the vendor itself may have a link to retrieve this information.)
  • 2. Go to the product page on the manufacturer’s web site and click “Specifications”, located on the left side of the page.
  • 3. Look for “Screen Size” and “Brightness”. In most cases, you won’t be able to find them under separate headings because they will both be shown under “Product Specifications”. Online video projector reviews do the same thing, too. The only difference is that they usually either specify lumens or ANSI lumens as well.
  • 4. Determine how many lumens are needed for a project with the appropriate screen size. For example, if you need a 300 ANSI lumens projector for your 150 inch screen (23 foot diagonal) in order to watch movies outside during daytime, then this will tell you that it’s more than enough brightness for any outdoor movie theater to have the same experience as watching a movie from inside a movie theater at night (assuming there are no bright sunlight or light sources around).
  • 5. Check the contrast ratio. If you’re trying to make sure the ANSI lumens and screen size are adequate for a room with ambient light, then this will tell you if the contrast is good enough for it to be easily seen in your room/area. This will help you know if you’ll need to move back some furniture or install a blackout curtain before turning on your projector.

Related article: How to calibrate projector ?

You can also check out other video projector reviews online and see how they write about ANSI lumens ratings, because they almost always include both ANSI lumens and screen size recommendations. Then, you can calculate how much brightness you’ll need using the same method as above.

If you have a screen that is smaller than the image it’s projecting, then the ANSI lumen rating isn’t as important. All that will happen is that your light source (in this case, a projector) will shine brighter at its boundaries and dimmer in the center of the screen. So if you find an image looking brighter and better with a 1,000 ANSI lumens projector than it does with a 2,500 ANSI lumens projector, then just get the 1,000 ANSI lumens one instead.

Nonetheless, I recommend that you buy a minimum of 2,500 ANSI lumens for every 50 feet in width and height of your screen. This is because the more lumens you have, the clearer the image will be, as well as the less visual fatigue (even though it might not seem that way). You can even get away with 1,000 ANSI lumens if you have an 8 foot wide screen to watch movies from a distance. But if your screen is smaller than 8 feet in width and height, then make sure to buy at least 2,500 ANSI lumens for any future investments such as mounting it on a wall or buying another projector.

In other words, ANSI lumens ratings will affect the brightness of your image, and larger screens need more lumens to produce a brighter picture.

If you already have a projector with only 1,000 ANSI lumens but you want to make your image brighter, then all you can do is move it farther away from the screen. This will make it automatically brighter when you’re watching movies at night in a dark room. But that’s not always the best idea since if you have glowing logos or text on the screen, then they will also be dimmer at this distance or may even disappear.

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