Choosing a Projector for Photography, Part I
May 13, 2008
When I was a boy, my father would often set up a pop-up screen, light up the Kodak carousel slide projector, and put on a show of 35mm slides that he'd taken of our family vacations. There was always something riveting and a bit magical in seeing warmly remembered people and places come alive on the big screen in living color. For millions of families back then, the homemade slide show was the only "big screen" experience that existed in the home. People used to load their cameras with Kodachrome anticipating that the photos they took would be shown and experienced as large, brilliant, projected images in a family or communal setting. And it was a great way for families to remember and re-live special times.
Somewhere along the line, the digital revolution changed the expectations of how photographs could or should be experienced. Instead of being projected, people began to expect photographs to be viewed on computer screens and cellphone displays. The communal big screen experience of a projected image got lost. Many people still have not realized that today's high resolution digital projectors can deliver the same family experiences as the Kodak slide projectors of the past. No surprise, I guess, because while projector makers promote their products for home theater, business presentation, and classroom use, they rarely mention photography as a unique application of its own. But the truth is, showing photographs to the family, or the camera club or other group setting is one of the best applications for today's digital projectors.
The question is -- what are the best projectors for photography? As an avid photographer myself I have tackled this question with great personal interest. I work in black/white as well as color, and use both film and digital cameras. I use every aspect ratio format from landscape/widescreen to vertical portrait to square (if you are curious, you can see my work at www.evanpowell.com). So, the big question for me is which projectors would I use to show my own work? What would I recommend to others? Let's consider the issues.