video projector advice needed



Hi all.

Hope for some good advice here. Let me explain. I am dismantling my 16mm home cinema and want to replace the system with video projection. I already have a good auto-masking screen system for 1.33:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1 and 2.55:1. I am not changing this but can adapt the size of the projected image to suit.

Bottom line here is cost. I looked at chanigng from 16mm to video CRT projection 2 years ago but prices were horribly high. Now I believe LCD projection can compete with 16mm film in terms of resolution and clarity of the image, depending on source material of course. Can anyone advise me of a good budget priced projector that will do the following, as this market is somewhat obscure to me at the moment. I have to un-learn 16mm projectors and get to grips with video proj.

My cinema is small, 20 ft long, currently the max screen width is set at 10 ft (scope), or something like 6ft 1.33:1 (4:3). So I dont need a fantastic sized image. I wont even use the old proj box which is 20ft away from the screen, this will be dismantled to extend the room which also doubles as games room and will give me an extra 6ft of space. I was thinking of mounting a vid proj from the ceiling, or even from the floor in a suitable mounting platform, probably only 10ft away from the screen. So image throw length is not needed to be more than say 12ft max.So I want a proj that has a zoom function to adjust pic size on fairly small distances.

2) Not looking for state of the art pic quality as this stage as this will be my 1st vid proj, and I understand prices are falling so fast it would not be good investment to spend £3K or more. 2nd hand prices on Ebay seem very low to me.

3) Want something compact, that may also be removed from mounting for use in second room from time to time, so nothing that weights 10 tons like the old CRT 3 beam projectors.

4) Want something that can switich from 4:3 to 16:9 anamorphic and unsqueeze the imagelike widescreen TV set does, pref auto but can do this manually of course. Easy operation, focus and colour controls etc, and nothing that takes days to set-up. Plug and play proj in a word, for a first dive into the video cinema pool.

5) I am thinking of a budget of less than £1600 if possible, as if I get to like video projection over 16mm, I will then upgrade properly after a year or so and eventually rebuild the whole cinema, which is currently kitted for celloloid projection, mono sound system, etc. Upgrading to Dolby digital 5.1 will come in the NEw year.

Any one recommend a good reliable, not to heavy yet verstatile proj for less than my budget? Not bothered about computer inputs, wont be using it for that, just want S video, maybe scart, etc, standard video input sources. I have VHS and DVD sources, and sattelite of course, but will mainly want to watch movies in the correct aspect ratio, and not live TV very much.

Obviously I am not going to get state of the art projection on my budget, but something approaching the richness and contrast of 16mm film would be acceptable at this stage. I wont be using the projector in daylight at all, as the whole room has remote control blackout (100%), so nothing with fantastic power is required. My 16mm projector only gives 650 lumens with its 250W lamp, so that's not much, and that is quite bright enough for me.

Any advice or references to web sites, etc, feel free to help me find my way through the jungle. Hope to actually set up a full web site with the changeover from 16mm to video all shown as I work on it. A lot to do, but the most important thing for me first is to source a good budget projector.


Well, if you look in the classifieds forum, I am selling a sanyo plv30, Kramer is selling a panasonic AE100 and comer is selling a toshiba machine. They are all probably great for your needs, all you would need to do is work out which one best suits your room as far as throw distances and all go.



Active Member
Yip Buns got it in one.....

If I was in your shoes, I'd be buying a secondhand AE100 (sorry Buns - I'm biased toward the AE100 !!! ) and devoting a fair bit of the rest of my budget towards DVDs - though your probably sorted in that department...

I you're going for a cieling mount - search here for Fulabeer - he does a particularly snazzy diy job which costs very little.

Alternatively, try an AE300 - read posts here about it - its well within your budget and you might never want another PJ again if reports are to be believed......

All the best,

Sean G.

Peter Parker

Distinguished Member
Hi GF,

One thing you may or may not be aware of is that you probably won't be able to change aspect ratios sideways with digital projection - with 4:3 material you'll have a fixed width, and for 16:9 or scope you'll end up with a picture the same width, but less height.

There are ways round this, such as using an anamorphic lens in front of the lens of the projector - this will spread the image out sideways and increase the width whilst keeping the height about the same. will cover more info than this forum, but the lenses aren't cheap. Something to look into later maybe.

Apart from LCD projectors, there are DLP, a different technology with different characteristics, and both have their pros and cons. Demoing is really the only way to decide. Don't buy either sight unseen until you've seen a few, and are able to make an educated decision on them. LCDs can have dead pixels, so try to view the one you will buy or ensure they do a good returns policy.

Neither technology will give you the contrast ratios you're used to, but some newer pjs are able to deliver up to 3000:1 now, with greater than 4000:1 in the pipeline (DLP dimple fixed).

As others have said, the Panasonic models get excellent reviews, so should be considered, as should the Infocus X1 which is DLP and has a cr of 2000:1. or the Plus 1080. Less cr (800:1), but higher resolution.

As for quality, you will often find that many projectors have poor internal scalers which don't help to remove scan lines or the stair stepping found at the edges of circles for instance. A computer (htpc) will often provide the best image possible, but this isn't always practical. External scalers can be connected in between the dvd player and pj and do a pretty good job. They start from around £100.

The best thing you can do is read the forums (including avs) and get as many demo's in as possible. It's the only way to get a true idea of what is acceptable to you, especialy as you're used to 16mm.




I would actually be biased towards a 4:3 panel in the situation given. The blanking set up seems to be set up on the principle of variable height..... a 16:9 panel would probably add un necessary difficulty to what is probably a very elegant solution.


Chris Frost

Well-known Member
What you are trying to achieve is based on a sound principle – a fixed height image system - but I think you’re asking too much from the technology for the budget you’ve set aside.

There are two main issues to overcome – resolution and the handling different aspect ratios.

Film has no pixels or scanlines like video projectors use. Film resolution is determined more by the grain of the film stock, the size of the frame – 8, 16 or 35mm and the optical quality of the lenses. To reproduce this seamless quality with a fixed pixel projector is a tall order. It’s easier with DLP because the pixel gaps are smaller, but these projectors tend to cost far more than your £1600 budget. Low resolution LCD projectors fall within your price range, but the resolution with 4:3 Aspect Ratio video on your 2.55:1 screen will be very low giving quite a course picture.

The second issue is handling the A.R. switching. There just aren’t any fixed panel projectors on the market under £10,000 capable of handling a fixed width projection system covering all those aspect ratios. The solution is to use a PC with some software that manipulates the video image so it would create those different A.R.s. The cost of such a PC would start around £400 - £500.

What you want can be done, but your starting budget should be closer to a £2500 minimum and substantially higher if you want good resolution with 4:3 and colour to rival film.


Peter Parker

Distinguished Member
An Isco or Prismasonic anamorphic lens will give variable width - it takes the full 4:3 resolution of the dvd via the projector and stretches it out sideways to give the correct aspect ratio. Prices are quite expensive IIRC. Upwards of a thousand pounds.

Maybe then he can utilise the 10ft wide screen for scope movies, and the 6ft wide one for plain 4:3.

Something for the future though perhaps.

A Panamorph is similar, but keeps the width constant by squishing the image height from 4:3 to 16:9.


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