What Is Contrast Ratio and Why Is It So Important When It Comes to Projectors

The simplest way to explain what contrast ratio is would be the ratio that is reflected from an all black image and an all white image. This means that a 3000:1 contrast ratio in a certain projector will produce the white image 3000 times brighter than the black image. With higher contrast ratio, you’ll be able to see more details on the projected image, no matter it is pictures, graphs, numbers, or video. Thanks to the contrast, we are able to notice the color’s subtle shades. So it all comes down to seeing more details with good contrast.

Why Is Contrast Ratio So Important?

Regarding business projectors, a primary concern is lumen, whilst contrast is of secondary concern. However, home theater projectors would be the exact opposite meaning contrast is arguably the most important quality in your home theater projector. A projector with high contrast ratio produces a picture with neatly defined shadow detail and deep black level. In essence, contrast provides video images with “depth”. If you have a projector that boasts amazing contrast, a two-dimensional images will appear nearly three-dimensional.

Types of Contrast Ratios

There are two ways in which contrast ratios can be noted on a spec sheet of a projector. If it simply says “Contrast”, it generally implies On/Off contrast, and this is the ratio of the darkest black and the whitest white that a certain projector is able to produce. However, if contrast is reported as “ANSI contrast”, the contrast ratio has been defined by displaying a checkerboard pattern of black and white squares as well as measuring the relative brightness of both black and white squares.

A Dynamic Iris

This is a device that is built into certain projectors which is placed between the lens and the lamp. If the dynamic iris is good, it will enhance On/Off contrast, meaning bright scenes are going to appear brighter, while dark scenes are going to appear darker. The projector’s On/Off contrast rating will be based on the darkest black when the dynamic iris is closed, and the whitest white when the dynamic iris is opened.

Choosing the Right Contrast Ratio

When it comes to choosing contrast ratio, a universal solution does not exist. While it is important, environment in which you are going to view the content greatly affects the contrast ratio you need. If you are planning on viewing the content in a dark room, you will require less contrast ratio for best results, whereas bright, well lit rooms will require higher contrast ratio due to additional source of light interfering with the image. There is no perfect contrast ratio since there are no perfect circumstances in which the content is going to be viewed.

Dark rooms are needed for best results because every front projection system will look its best if there is no light in the room. If you introduce light in your room, it will make blacks appear more like dark gray. The result of this will be the reduction of the contrast of the image, which will make it look washed out or flat. Unfortunately, this will occur no matter of your projector’s capability.