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Choosing a Projector
By: Wally Dalziel

Many churches, when evaluating and selecting projectors for their A/V needs, have questions concerning the following elements of the equipment. Here is a breakdown of the various considerations when purchasing a projector for your worship facility.

The amount of light entering the church and the type of light are two important considerations when selecting the right projector for your church. Churches tend to be very bright environments, without the ability to control or dim the light entering the room. It is therefore recommended that you choose a bright projector that will be able to cope with this.

Projector brightness is measured in ANSI lumens. Projectors suitable for churches are typically rated from 1500 lumens to 4500 lumens.

If you can control the light entering the church, you save money buying projector with a low ANSI lumens rating. As a guide, a projector with 1500 lumens is generally suitable.

If you have got a lot of ambient light in the room and can't do anything about it, you could opt for a high brightness, high contrast projector. In really bright conditions, though, it is recommended that you opt for a projector over 2500 lumens.

Screen Size?
The size of screen necessary may depend on either the room size or the projector.  It is best to choose the projector based on the room dimensions, and then choose the screen based on both the projector and the room.   

Contrast is not a major factor when deciding what projector you need for your church. It is measured as a "contrast ratio" (e.g., 400:1). This tells you the difference in brightness between a "fully on" pixel and a "fully off" pixel. For instance, on a projector with a 400:1 contrast ratio, and (for simplicity's sake) a 400 lumen brightness rating, fully off' pixels would actually be 1 lumen in brightness.

What does contrast actually mean to you?

Essentially, the higher contrast on a projector increases the perception of depth in the image and means subtle color variations show up more clearly. Hence, subtle textures are more visible. It also means that dark scenes do not look washed out.

Looking for a projector with a high contrast ratio would not be too important if you are running song sheets through a computer, although it could be a deciding factor if you are looking to run film nights from time to time.

Nearly all of projectors come with the following essential connections:

* VGA (for connecting a PC)
* S-Video
* Composite

DVI and component connections are less common. If you have a high-end DVD player that has component output capability, you can take advantage of these connections, so look out for them in the product specification sheets. If you don't have component outputs, you can normally use the S-Video connection.

When looking through the specifications of projectors, you will notice that they are generally classified as having either SVGA or XGA resolution. The resolution you opt for determines how many pixels the projector can display at one time, which, in turn, affects the smoothness of the image.

XGA resolution is inherently superior to SVGA, as it displays about 63 percent more pixels. Of course, this also means that it is more expensive.

Bulb Life?
You might have noticed how expensive replacement bulbs are for projectors. With this in mind, a long bulb life is a definite advantage.

The average life of a bulb is about 2,000 hours. Some projectors go up to 6,000 hours. With a lamp module costing about $600, a 2,000-hour bulb works out under 20p an hour of usage, which is relatively cost-effective but may be a price consideration.

There are many projector mounting options available to you and your place of worship. Churches tend to have very high ceilings, so there are several ways to complete your installation. If it is not convenient to mount the projector on the ceiling, there are a range of wall mounts available, as well as special mounts that can connect to girders or rigging.

Wally Dalziel is the owner of ChurchProjectors.com.

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