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Relative Brightness of Projection Screens

Evan Powell, June 3, 2004

Contrary to popular myth, projection screens are not all created equal. Some are brighter than others, often by significant margins. Since vendors appear to use different procedures and equipment to derive their official gain ratings, it is not possible to tell from the gain ratings on the products' specification sheets which are the brighter products.

Therefore we have set aside all published gain ratings and collected our own measurements for the relative brightness of each product. To do this we measured the brightness of all screens relative to the standard white board in our lab which we defined as having a value of 1.00 or 100%. All screens were measured under identical conditions and procedures with the same equipment in a black room using the white board as a constant. The screens and the board were illuminated with a 100 IRE white test pattern. All were given a rating based on the percentage of light that the screen was able to reflect back relative to the white board. The results were as follows:

White Screens

Stewart Studiotek 130 130%
Draper M1300 125%
Da-lite CinemaVision 110%
Goo Systems CRT White 100%
Vutec BriteWhite 90%
Carada Classic Cinema White 65%

Gray Screens

Vutec SilverStar 240%
Stewart Firehawk 115%
Da-lite High Contrast CinemaVision 90%
Goo Systems Digital Grey Lite 75%
Draper HiDef Gray 70%
Carada High Contrast Gray 45%

Relative brightness is not the only factor to consider in choosing a screen. Color bias, contrast, resolution, and hotspotting are also important variables that need to be weighed. However this table should help to dispel the myth that all screens are basically the same.

Commentary

Do projector screens really differ?
Should I choose White or Gray?
What is screen gain?

Reviews (vendors in descending order of retail price)

Relative Brightness of Projection Screens
Vutec Corporation
Stewart Filmscreen
Draper, Inc.
Da-lite Screen Company
Carada, Inc.
Goo Systems, Inc.

Summary