The Art of Home Theater Projectors

New light meter – the better to measure your favorite projector

Greetings everyone!

Just a quick heads up, about some changes in terms of our published measurements of projectors.  

MIke, who took over doing our measurements and calibration of projectors this past spring, uses the same gear I had been using previously – an Optic One light sensor, and AVIA Pro software.  

As I have commented on, a couple of times, our projector lumen measurements have consistently come out higher than measurements for the same projector model, recorded by other reviewers.  As mentioned, since we get to review the vast majority of under $10,000 projectors, this wasn’t a big concern, as any inaccuracy would be consistent from review to review.  So, if our measurements have been 20% higher on projector A, than another review site measured, our measurements on projectors B and C, would also be 20% higher.  The bottom line, – our measurements are consistent from projector to projector.  Brighter is still brighter, dimmer, still dimmer.

That changes with our next review, however.  Mike has just started using a new light meter, and is getting new software as well.

We will do measurements between the “old” and the “new” gear, so that going forward you all have a basis for comparing new readings with old.  I can tell you right now, from the first numbers Mike has sent me on the Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, that the new meter is definitely reporting significantly lower numbers.  Both the new 6500 UB, and the 1080 UB it replaces are supposed to be 1600 lumens.  This time the 6500 UB, however, only measured in the mid 1200′s in brightest mode, compared to mid 1600′s on the 1080 UB.  That is significant.  It should be noted, though, that Mike’s adjustments of “brightest” mode, are more conservative than mine (I allow a little more umph – lumens, tolerating a little less color accuracy than he does for a quick calibration of a brightest mode.)  Note: I did the measurements for the old 1080 UB.  

We’ll get it all sorted out for you, in terms of comparing older reviews, with newer ones.  Meantime, measured lumen numbers won’t change my screen size recommendations, and general commentary, which, while subjective, are based on viewing, not measuring, and therefore will remain consistent, from projector to projector, and are what matters most.

Thanks, and of course happy holidays to everyone out there!  Enjoy  -art

News And Comments

  • Dave

    It seems like this is an odd time to make such a dramatic change (i.e. in the middle of the season of reviews of new pjs) and that it would have been just as well to leave it alone until March or so…but, with that said, as long as you provide before (old meter) and after (new Meter) results it will be easy for us to track. Longitudinally, many readers will want to see a real “apples to apples” understanding of the 6500 UB vs. the 1080 UB and the RS1/RS2 as well as the same with the new JVC’s and these compared to the new AE 3000U and Mitsubishi’s….thanks

    Greetings Dave,

    Well, you are probably right, but then Mike just got in his new meter, and we figure the sooner we switch over, the better. True, this isn’t a great time to do it, but unless we wait until early March, there won’t be a “good time” Consider:

    Still plenty of “new projectors” that need reviewing – besides the Epson 6500 UB, we have these in our queue: Epson Home Cinema 6100 and Home Cinema 700, JVC RS10 and RS20, SIM2 D80E, the Sony VPL-VW70. All of these are “late season” projectors, and all will be around for a couple to several months after next fall’s crop of projectors starts to hit in August/September 2009. If we waited, then come next September, people would be looking at “old numbers” for the Epson’s JVC’s and Sony’s when comparing to the newly released Mitsubishi’s, Sanyo’s and Panasonics. Optoma, InFocus and BenQ don’t seem to release products on any predictable timeframe, to further complicate things.

    So, – sooner is better than later, we figure! I plan to have Mike either provide measurements of the 6500 UB with both sets of equipment, or we will remeasure one of the recently reviewed – probably the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 or the Panasonic PT-AE3000, with the new meter.

    The other reason for “now” rather than later, is that new software may also give us slightly different calibration settings, and the sooner we start reporting the new ones, the happier most new owners will be. I don’t expect any significant changes in calibration settings, but we will have more accurate readings in the low IRE ranges, where the Optic One is limited in sensitivity.

    Hang in there! -art (and happy holidays!)

  • Dave

    Pretty please, at least for the 6500 UB…use measurements of both sets of equipment so we can compare it effectively to the 1080 UB, RS1/2 and AE 3000U older reviews. There are a LOT of people who have been waiting for this pj especially to compare to these three to measure the impact of it as an upgrade….the pre-interest threads at AVS attest to this.


    More likely than breaking out the Optic One again, I will have Mike remeasure one or two modes from the Panasonic PT-AE3000 or the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, with his new gear. That accomplishes the same thing – we should be able to say something like: For comparison, reduce the reported lumens in older reviews by ??% to get a good idea of how they would measure with the new equipment. Might even put a page up with our estimates for all the favorite projectors. -art

  • miltimj

    Hi Art -

    Are you planning (or do you already have somewhere) a comparison list of the projectors you’ve fully reviewed? I would think that would be the single most helpful piece of information that you could provide. In my case, I’m specifically (especially) looking for a comparison of measured ANSI lumen output on each of the available modes for “all” projectors. I have an old Infocus SP4805, a BenQ PE7700, and am looking at getting a 1080p in the near future, but would like to know the relative lumen values of each. It seems that they’re occasionally buried in a review, or I have to go based on “X is brighter than Y”, etc..



    First, for home theater projectors there is a directory – found at the top of the site (green tabs), which is “curiously” named “Home Theater Projectors” That lists all reviews by brand, sorted by date. We are soon to launch a search function for finding similar projectors – it should be up in the next 2-3 weeks. In that section you would be able to search for, say: 1080p projectors, with lens shift between $2000 and $3000, with a at least x number of lumens. Stay tuned.

    My site does not support dynamically creating tables that would do just what you would like, and there are so many different modes on different projectors, that it would be difficult to do straight matchups – other than “best mode” and brightest mode. With brightest mode, there is much variation in color accuracy, etc, some are very good, some are purely “max lumens, max picture quality compromise” modes.

    However, for the 1080p projector comparison report which starts late January, I will endeavor to build out some sort of chart that will help comparing brightness between projectors. There are fewer and fewer 720p projectors around these days, so it’s not as confusing as with all the new 1080p projectors. -art