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Testing equipment

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Venom1969, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. Venom1969

    Venom1969
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    Well now that I've been thoroughly infected with the big screen bug. I'm thinking this is going to be a long term thing for me. As with all long term things you want to get the best you can for you money. And in pj terms that means contrast and brightness, ie. ANSI contrast, ON/OFF contrast and lumens.

    How do you measure contrast? How do you measure lumens? What tools do you need and where do you get this stuff? I don't mind the expense but would prefer the basic equipment to do my own testing. There's only so far you can go with internet reviews and opinions, eventually you have to do your own testing. Thanks for any help that can be given. Also pm me, if you're not comfortable with chatting about it in public, for whatever reason. :laugh: :lease: :smashin:
     
  2. Oakleyspatz

    Oakleyspatz
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    You really need to forget testing equipment and start enjoying movies! That seems to be a problem with many folk who visit this site, They put on a DVD and instead of enjoying a film, they are constantly pausing, rewinding, frame advancing etc. etc. and saying, "look at the deep blacks here, look at the resolution there". Surely if you look at a projector's picture and say "WOW" then that's all the testing you need.
    Plus how do you intend to test many projectors with your testing equipment? Are you going to buy one, test it and return it? The logistics seem like a nightmare!
    Basically, look at a site where the reviews are done by experts, with their own testing equipment, unbiased opinions and detailed results such as Home theatre Magazine or Projector Central and then base you buy on those reviews. The only specs you should treat with caution are the manufactures ones!
    Come on everyone, let's not become nerdy AV geeks ! Let's strive to buy quality equipment and then enjoy using them which, after all is what we're buying them for. Isn't it? Not so we can sit and test the ANSI lumens every evening !!!
     
  3. theritz

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    Oakleyspatz,

    Your reply manages to be ill-informed (unbiased opinions and detailed results such as Home theatre Magazine or Projector Central ) and condescending (You really need to forget testing equipment and start enjoying movies! That seems to be a problem with many folk who visit this site, They put on a DVD and instead of enjoying a film, they are constantly pausing, rewinding, frame advancing etc. etc. and saying, "look at the deep blacks here, look at the resolution there". ) at the same time - well done.... :smashin:

    Venom,

    The equipment used by professionals calibrating or reviewing projectors is a bit outside of the mainstream - not a fairly common item like an SPL meter for setting up your sound system. There are two fairly well known systems (SMART III and Colorfacts) - I'm not sure whether they would be quite suited to your needs - if you do a Google you'll find out more. I think that Gary Lightfoot got himself a copy of Colorfacts, you could drop him a PM for his opinion on it, if he doesn't spot this post.

    Sean G.
     
  4. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Venom,

    As Theritz has said, you're more than welcome to drop me a PM, but I can chat here too. :)

    I myself am still learning, and so only barely know the basics, but I'll have a go and see if I can help. If anything's incorrect, hopefully someone will point it out. :)

    For accurate(ish) contrast, you should use a good quality light meter - the Robin RT24 is often found on ebay and can be had quite cheaply. It's identical to the meter used in SMART which uses the meter with some RGB caps that act as filters and measure colour. It's not as accurate as Colorfacts for measuring colour, but is considerably cheaper. SMART is $300 and CF is $1800 (might be back up to $2400 now though). The people who make AVIA sell a similar product to CF for $1800.

    SMART is long winded, as you have to take each set of RGB readings when displaying different graduations of grey, but CF takes them simultaneously and in real time. SMART needs an Excel spreadsheed to input and calculate the readings, CF uses a PC and the data is immediatley in front of you. Grey should always be grey at different light intensities, but quite often with the lamps not outputting the same quantities of red green and blue, grey will often have a slight green/blue tint. That can be seen as a higher colour temp with some measuring gear.

    Some PJs benefit from a filter of some sort placed in front of the lens which helps balance the colours more, but the the colours will still need to be fine tuned. CF and SMART will do that for you, though I don't think SMART is quite capable of getting the standard of colour refered to as D65. CF will though. A colourimeter will see colour in a very similar way to the human eye, but SMART doesn't. You can still get good results with it though, but it takes time.

    A light meter and a copy of Avia and/or Video Essentials will get you started to a point, so try that and see how you go. Then move onto SMART or CF if you still want to get deeper into it.

    Contrast ratio is measured by projecting black, and taking a lumens measurement, then project white and take another (comonly reffered to as 0ire and 100ire). Divide the black reading into the white, and that's your ratio.

    Ansi is a white and black chequerboard pattern that is displayed, and you take a reading from a white square and a black square. Do the same division and that's your ANSI. It's also room dependant - the white squares can bounce a lot of the light off the screen and onto the walls which then bounce back onto the screen and lighten the black squares, Thats' why total light control and dark walls etc are needed. Less so for CR, but should still be a consideration. With CRTs, the light can scatter about in the lenses and reduce the ANSI. Liquid coupled lenses reduce the effect, but this is one aspect where digital PJs can be better than CRTs. CRT still currently produce the best CR and black level though.

    Contrast is a light adjustment of the white level, and brightness adjusts the black level. These should be set to ensure you aren't losing detail in thses areas (such as shadow and sky). Each colour has it's own contrast and brightness adjustments for setting the colours correctly. Too much or little will result in tinted greys and incorrect colour temp.

    We're all different, but despite what some say, if you have a display that is incorrectly set up, then you may be distracted by artefacts etc which detract from the what you should be seeing. Once set up correctly, you'll not see anything except the movie. :)

    Almost like watching a tv without an aerial, and watching one with. Both have the same image, but one is better than the other. :)

    HTH

    Gary.
     
  5. RTFM

    RTFM
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    Gary,

    Ever think about turning pro ?

    I think you know more than I do about projectors :D

    Jeff :rtfm:
     
  6. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Thanks Jeff,

    But you taught me all I know! When are you going to teach me all you know? :)

    Don't forget - it's all your fault I bought a pj in the first place - I don't know whether to thank you or strangle you!!

    Gary.
     
  7. RTFM

    RTFM
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    But Gary, if you strangle me I can't sell you any more projectors :D

    Jeff :rtfm:
     
  8. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Damn.

    Foiled again. :D

    Gary.
     
  9. RTFM

    RTFM
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    Then again, if you did, you could take over my business. Just make sure I tell you all I know first. :)

    Jeff
     
  10. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I'd be Rich! Rich!

    Bwahahahahaha!! (maniacal laugh..) :rotfl:
     
  11. Oakleyspatz

    Oakleyspatz
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    Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Maybe I am missing something Theritz. Maybe I shouldn't be buying DVD's because of the plotline, because of the acting and because of the wonderful action. I will in future base my purchase on the splendid deep blacks in chapter 7 , the fine detail in chapter 6 ( 3 seconds into scene 4) and the fine contrast shown in the opening sequence.
    I am not going to sit in front of my projector with a light meter! Why do I need to? I WILL sit in front of my projector and make any adjustments I think needed to obtain the best picture I can such as brightness and contrast and , dare I say it, gamma settings. But at the end of the day, my eyes are the best meters I have and so long as they are happy, then so am I.
    I may well be ill informed, but at the end of the day, I'd much rather be enjoying the movie and not worrying about the exact lumens being output at any moment of time.
    I suppose I am alone in this view. So be it. But it is my view and I am allowed that privilege, just as you are Theritz, and calling me "ill-informed" and "condescending" seems a bit like the kettle calling the pot back if you ask me.
    May I give you an example which emphasises my point perfectly....
    A good friend of mine is also, in my opionion, too obsessed with readings, figures and numbers. He invited me around once to watch a movie on his system. I went and we settled down to watch the Matrix Revolutions. The movie was just getting exciting(ish) and the tension was building. Just at that moment, my friend paused the movie, rewound it a few seconds and played it again saying.." Look at the detail in Neo's face!" you can clearly see the blackheads on his nose!"
    What the f*** did I care whether I could see Keanu Reeves blackheads? I was indeed enjoying the movie, and subconciously was stunned by the clarity of the picture I was viewing. But his actions completely ruined the moment. The tension that the director has strived to achieve had been lost so I could ogle over Keanu's zits !!!

    Do you see my point. Buy good gear and then enjoy it for the purpose it was made. To watch movies on, to play games on, to surf the net on... whatever, but NOT to see how accurate the reviewed claims of a 2000:1 contrast ratio is. If the contrast looks good to you then enjoy it ! Unless you ARE a professional reviewer, what's the point?

    Ok, death threats, knee-cappings and stonings can now begin. Just let me climb down off my soapbox first will ya !
     
  12. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I can assure you that those of us who like to be more technicaly involved with the hobby don't twiddle all day long either. We're not all like your friend - I like to enjoy the movies too, and haven't had to tweak my set-up in quite some time, but when I do, it's not while I'm watching a movie.

    We all have different ideas and standards for our viewing enjoyment, and just because you don't set yours as high as others, is no need to belittle they're endeavers.

    Even you say you fiddle with contrast and brightness and occasionaly gamma. If you're also able to set-up a pj further and get the best out of it beyond the basic controls, why not? Seems to me that because you can't go beyond a certain point, you begrudge those that can or want to.

    Once it's done, it's done. You don't see a calibrator living round their clients houses do you? Of course not.

    How many gears has your car got? Would you be happy with using just 1st gear or would you rather use all of them? :)

    Gary.
     
  13. Oakleyspatz

    Oakleyspatz
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    An excellent Point Gary. I apologise and take my hat off to you for a point very well made.
    No offence intended to all who 'tinker'...I'm just a non-tinkerer !!!
     
  14. theritz

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    Oakleyspatz,

    Gary has answered the substantive points made in your post, there's nothing I could add to his words.

    However, just for the record, I would like to correct one thing.....

    I wouldn't for a moment deny you the privilege of your opinions or anything else for that matter. I didn't call you ill-informed or condescending, I said that your reply was those things, and pointed out why I thought (and still think) that was the case. The original poster (Venom1969) asked for advice..............

    Your reply didn't address his query, you expressed your opinion of people who might have an interest in getting the best from their kit, or a technical interest at a level different to yours. While you're entitled to believe anything you want, it didn't do anything to help the person asking the question, other than belittling their level of interest, which I regard as condescending.

    As Gary quite rightly says, different people have different standards and different levels of interest - I have found over the time that I've spent here that one learns more by reading than posting, and if someone has a specific query that I can't answer myself, it is usually more helpful to let someone else deal with it, rather than posting an opinion just for the sake of posting.

    Sean G.
     
  15. RTFM

    RTFM
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    Not on the margins of most projectors :)

    Jeff :rtfm:
     
  16. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hmm, you mean I won't be able to give up the day job then?

    Gary.
     
  17. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    As the guys have pointed out there are many specs that can be measured and that are quoted by manufacturers and reviewers. There are also others that can be measured and aren't quoted and then there are those that may be immeasureable.

    The best advice is to have your displays set up so they work to their optimum and at their most accurate within the technical limitations of the device itself. Then view material on them to see which looks best to you. Simple.....well simple if you can find some good dealers like Jeff and others or if you have time to learn all this stuff for yourself and can blag some demo stuff off folk.


    Gordon

    P.S. Colorfacts is just software. It works with various pieces of hardware which have varying amounts of accuracy in their measurement ability. I like it.
     
  18. Oakleyspatz

    Oakleyspatz
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    To TheRitz and Venom I would also like to apologise. You are quite right, my answer/opinion was of no help in answering Venom's query and I should have kept my opinion to myself.
    I was having a very bad day !!!!

    I think I realised that I too may have a question one day soon and contructive advice would be all I want, not personal opinions on the merit of my question.
    I admit it, I'm a prized plonker and I have well and truly learnt my lesson.
    Sorry guys !
     
  19. theritz

    theritz
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    oakleyspatz,

    No prob :hiya: . Interest and enthusiasm is what draws me here regularly, you seem to have both in abundance - have fun.



    S.
     
  20. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I'll be posting a 'Dyanimic Neo Zit Enhancement' thread any day now... :D

    Gary.
     
  21. theritz

    theritz
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    I can hardly wait.............. :smashin: will that be dd or DTS ?? :D

    S.
     
  22. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Can't say, it's a secret. :D
     
  23. theritz

    theritz
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    Tart....... :p

    S.
     

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