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I am a member of a photography club. Each time we meet to critique, the pictures are projected on to a wall. Most of the folks complain that the picture quality is quite bad when projected. Unfortunately, switching projectors or finding a large screen is not an option.

What are some tips on taking pictures that look good both when projected and on a monitor?

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It may be worth taking a look at some of the answers on; although this is looking at it the other way around, some of the points still hold true - the colour gamut of the projector, for example. –  Rowland Shaw Apr 19 '12 at 19:13
If the goal is to receive feedback to make you better photographers...why would you intentionally shoot photos for the projector? Sounds like your club should have a fundraiser to buy a reasonable sized monitor. –  rfusca Apr 19 '12 at 19:34
@rfusca we might get better a projector eventually. in the meanwhile... –  publicRavi Apr 19 '12 at 19:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Projector native resolution needs to be taken into account. This will often be no higher than about 1024 x 768 in cheaper or older projectors. If you drive it at higher resolutions or at different aspect ratios it may convert internally but you are at the mercy of its processes.

A very major and often overlooked factor in using a projector is that what you see when the projector is turned off IS black, when the projector is turned on. The projector cannot "make" darkness - it can only add light to the starting black level. So, turn off the projector. That's black. If that is not black enough you need to do something about it.

  • Minimum to zero light level is one thing.

  • A screen should be used - a coloured wall changes your "black". The "screen" can be a roll of white paper (carefully rolled up afterwards or a cloth, preferably tensioned to make it ripple free.

I have found that ambient light reduction makes a stunning difference to otherwise poor results.

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Also make sure that projector's lamp is not close to the end of it's useful life. Some models may have lamps that change its color temperature or loose their full light output. Keep the lens clean too. –  Jahaziel Apr 19 '12 at 22:18

What, exactly, makes them complain about poor picture quality?

If you're shooting an uncalibrated projector toward an arbitrary projection surface, you've got a lot of things working against you. First of all, your color configuration is liable to be all over the place. Secondly, you're going to be at the mercy and the reflectivity of your wall.

I'd recommend a couple of things, assuming that the photos being projected look good on a a computer or on a mobile device.

  1. Calibrate your projector. This can be done by hand, but it's really worthwhile to invest in something like an X-Rite ColorMunki Display. This will quickly, automatically, and reliably measure the color performance of your projection system and create a software profile to correct for any deficiencies. If your club has a shared computer lab, you can use the same device to calibrate all of the displays in the lab.

    Also, be sure to set the projecting computer to use the projector's native resolution. If your projector is operating at 1024x768, but your computer's output is set to 1280x800, you're going to introduce all kinds of weird effects as the image is scaled and stretched to match the projector.

  2. If you're regularly projecting against the same wall all the time, look into buying "screen paint" or something similar. This is usually a neutral grey in color and may have additives to boost reflectivity. You'll find more info about this in DIY home theater forums. Note that you do not want to project against a black surface if you can help it.

  3. If you're not regularly projecting against the same wall, you might consider building a DIY projector screen. This could be as simple as PVC and a white bed sheet, or you could look into a more suitable screen surface. This can be built DIY for $100 or less, depending on your materials, and is something you can easily build in your garage in an afternoon.

Good luck.

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.@bright, welcome to photo.SE! –  Reid Apr 20 '12 at 17:55

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