Painted wall Vs screen comparisons?



After buying a Snny HS20, I am really keen to get the best out of the projector. The only item I need to complete the installation is a screen. Thus far I have been using a white painted smooth wall as a screen. I have however, borrowed two (moderately old) OHP/35mm projection screens to compare with the painted wall. I and others have great difficulty telling the difference between the wall and the screens and accasionally the wall looks better!. Unfortunately I have no tech data on the screens.

Thus I am now in a position where I am reluctant to shell out £500 - £1000 on a screen only to find it no better than a painted wall. Of course manufacturers and dealers will pour cold water on a painted wall, but has anyone done any good objective comparisons?

Its a great shame that swatches of material aren't more easily available for comparison purposes.

And honest I am not trying to flame here. These are honest observations.

If you're happy with a painted wall, then go for it. You could also consider a "DIY" screen, using either dedicated screen material or blackout lining.

IMO, a good dedicated screen is far better than a painted wall but each to their own.

You could also consider using screen "Goo" - specially formulated paint. Have a look at Nexnix for details.

Originally posted by epgs1
And honest I am not trying to flame here. These are honest observations.

Hi Graham,

I take your point totally, if it weren't for the huge picture mirror on our screen wall, then I would have thought twice about using a screen at all. That and the fact that out colour scheme in the lounge (Crown Egyptian Sand, possibly going darker sometime soon) would look odd with a white wall.

Using a bordered screen can help lift the perceived brightness of the projected image, which can be useful, but often at the cost of the perceived blackness of the blacks. So, swings and roundabouts.

Have fun

I suspect that there is less in it than some would want to believe, particularly if you have just shelled out £1k for a screen! I have yet to see any real objective evidence to differentiate between screen surfaces - lots of subjective comment, but no hard numbers. I have seen a few polar plots of gains from some screens, but thats the sum total of objective evidence I have seen so far. Perhaps, some close up photos of standard projected images would provide a useful subjective starting point?
I noticed the interesting pic vutec have on their www site comparing screens - more of that would be useful.

I have a Z2 and was using a home made screen made from black out material, the image just looked washed out and as though it was glowing so i painted it a mix of icestorm 5/6 and the difference really was night and day. I think that this was largely down to the fact i have a cream ceiling and the light spill was reflecting back on the screen whereas now the screen will be absorbing some light.
This therefore illustrated to me that at least the colour of the screen does make a difference. I was going to go for a dalite hccv fixed screen but have now been reading about goo, as Kramer as stated, so am more inclined to go for that as it will be over £400 saving :eek: . The goo will give me a grey screen but with a 1.2 gain so should get the benefits of light absorption and a brighter image i think and hope.
I would post some screen shots of the differences when i get the goo but i think that you can only upload so many bytes on this site and my pictures seem to be no less than 1 - 2mb
I'm very pleased with my recent change from a DIY painted screen (Icestorm 6) to a screen made from Ellie 1.2 gain matt-white screen material.

I have a projector (HT1100) with an iris to control the overall lumens output. In my situation, the increased brightness from the new screen allowed me to shut the iris right down to its minimum setting and maximum contrast ratio. The difference was quite noticeable. Even with the iris fully closed down, the image is brighter and punchier than the painted screen with iris at half-open setting. Black level looks substantially the same due to the increase in contrast ratio. The most pleasing aspect was the increased 3-dimensional depth to the picture which is now quite staggering on occasion.

The cost of screen material was £57.

Allan, did you make your own screen from the Ellie material. I am OK at DIY and can fabricate a screen. At a cost of £57 (ish) I like this idea.

I imagine it is similar to making a screen out of blackout material, i.e just build a simple frame and stretch the material over this frame and staple it to the frame. If so then yes it is very easy to make a screen, just a couple of hours
Very straight forward to make a fixed screen. I stapled the material to the wall (plasterboard) making sure it was nicely stretched out to avoid rippling and covered the staples with the border material.

Borders were made from 2 to 3 inch wide hardboard strips wrapped in black velvet.

I always find this painted wall/blackout blind/dedicated screen debate quite facinating, if only for the wide variety of differing views on the subject! I can only tell you about my experience. When I first got my PJ i used a blackout blind (6ft wide). The picture was pretty impressive. Aesthetically this wasn't very pleasing, so when I decorated my lounge I decided to get a proper screen. I ended up with a Draper Luma 6ft normal gain. When using this for the first time there picture was well....WOW!!! The difference between the two was unbelievable. Seriously, it was like I'd upgraded the PJ. The picture just came alive, almost 3D in appearence. It was, I kid you not, the best £200 I'd ever spent!

Given the variation in views on the subject, this is all IMHO of course! BUT, in my view, if you are even THINKING about getting a 'proper' screen, GO FOR IT!!!:D
I had a 7ft wide DIY screen made from wood and blackout cloth for about 3 years. Then about a year ago I replaced the BO cloth with the Ellie 1.2 gain material, and the difference wasn't huge to be honest. The 1.2 gain was a little whiter and brighter, which is what I expected, but the white BO cloth was very good considering that it cost me just £15. You have to make sure the BO clothe you get is the white variety - there are quite a few difernt types.

For a unity gain screen on a budget, it's hard to beat IMHO. If you need a screen with gain though, then the proper screen material is probably the only choice.

I have taken a look at some of the blackout material available, and I am not surprised that a marked improvement is seen when comparing with a proper screen. The blackout material, I have looked at, has a non-flat frequency response (its quite yellow compared to the paint I have used or the screens I have) and its reflectivity is quite poor (at least subjectively).

Call me a sceptic but if low gains screens were that much better than a painted wall, I think we would see plenty screen manufacturers showing the hard evidence.

Having said all of this, if a screen gave me a clear improvement, then I would not object spending the money. What I don't want to do is to cough up £1K to find my painted wall is almost as good! So far I haven't found a dealer that is sufficiently confident to sell me a screen that I can return if its no better than the wall - hmm does that say something as well?

Where do you get this "Ellie" material from?
any links would be welcome
I have just recorded some images from both a screen and my painted wall. The histograms of the images are almost identical! This is what my eyes were telling me, now I have some objective measures to support this observation.

I'll try to publish the details on a www site somewhere.

If my screen (arriving tomorrow hopefully) doesn't give a better picture than the magnolia wall I'm currently using I'll, I'll, I'll, well I'll, I'll be very cross!:rolleyes:
Pete, it WILL be better than magnolia. Thats what I started with a few months ago when I was trying the projector concept. A white wall or a screen is hugely better.

Pete you will have to let us know, in this thread, whether in your opinion it is better and why, thanks inza
Ok, no worries....

Watch this space, 3rd screen arriving today/tomorrow. I have to go out for physio today so I can already imagine when it's going to pitch up.:rolleyes:

Screen has arrived and is on the wall ready to roll (pardon punn, it's a 'rolled up screen 'gedit', 'gedit?.....:rolleyes: )

Will post verdict tomorrow....
I went from a home made screen using blackout cloth to a Da-lite 1.5 gain screen and there was a massive improvement!!
Then when I needed to change the screen due to wrinkles after moving house I went down to a 1.0gain screen and again there was a massive difference, my contrast went from 45 up to 58 (floor mounted crt btw) to compensate for the loss of light with the 1.0 gain screen.

I am moving house again in teh next few months and will go for 1.3 as an absolute minimum, on a fixed screen from draper or stewart if funds permit.

Those who say that there is not a big difference did you go back to the homemade screen after using the proper one, that is when you really notice the difference.
Well here we's not really good news,
Last night I fired up Tomb Raider on my new 83" widescreen. I had watched 2 films previously by simply projecting against magnolia.

My initial gut reaction was that there was NO discernable difference in picture quality.:(

As the film went on I did realise that the picture had a little more clarity, the problems of jagged edges due to an interlaced signal were more apparent (new dvd will sort that out). My missus was also completely underwhelmed with the difference that the screen made.

So here is my bottom line:

1. Without a direct side by side comparison of the 2 projection surfaces it is difficult to truely state what differences there are. I can only state that nothing 'jumped' out at me and said 'that's a worthwhile improvement'.

2. If I was thinking white painted wall screen for £20 (ish) OR £200 screen I would personally opt for a tin of matt white and matt black and I would paint my screen to my desired size.

I have the screen and it is useful to me as I do not have a wall that is suitable for a paint job, so for me it's not a complete waste of money...

I also realise that everone has there own views on this subject and some would completely dissagree with me...this is just my 2 pence worth....try painting first if you don't like it you can always paint the wall back again without losing wads of cash...;)


EDIT: It may be worthy of note that I have not yet calibrated the pj to give the best results when projecting in a room with light coloured walls. There is a possibility that I will get a better calibrated result on the screen than I would be able to if I was projecting onto magnolia. I don't know, but I thought it was worthy of comment....
Hi Pete,

Thanks for the honest account.

Seems like you have a similar opinion to me with respect to small gains going from some cheap alternatives to a 'proper' screen material.

gizlaroc has a valid point though, so a direct split screen type effect using both types may reveal some differences that aren't apparent when going from one to the other.

I can hang some blackout cloth over my 1.2 gain material, but other than being a little whiter and a little brighter, the difference isn't huge by any means - definitley not 9 times better as the price difference might suggest. :)

There's a moral there somewhere, I wonder what it is?:rolleyes:
If nothing else we have hopefully aired a word of caution to the forum with regards to forking out on a dedicated screen. But I still feel others will not agree, I guess if it lights your bunsen then who are we to pass advice?:smoke:
Pete thanks for you comments, will let you know how i get on with my Goo. Now just awaiting the mdf to be delivered before i can start painting it, should be with me tomorrow so will hopefully know by the weekend if i get chance to paint it.

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