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What Is Gain on a Projector Screen?

by Lisa Hayden
What Is Gain on a Projector Screen?

Screen gain is the amount of reflective brightness (lumens) from a projector to the viewer. The number of lumens determines the image’s quality and the width of the viewing angle. Gain is expressed by a ratio of reverse brightness from the screen, in contrast to the reverse brightness from a quality white reference board.

Projector screen gain expresses the number of lumens from the center of the optimal viewing point. For example, if you have a screen gain of 1.0, the number of lumens you view from the screen will be equivalent to the number of lumens on the reflective whiteboard.

You can control screen gain to direct light from a particular location or to decline light from certain angular zones. You can also reduce screen gain by tinting the surface using colors and dyes, like selecting a gray color to darken the white and improve its contrast.

Related:

Projection Screen Gain Calculator

The projector screen gain calculator determines the ratio of the amount of light being reflected from the projector to the viewer.

The primary gain ratio is 1.0; if your projector has a certain number of lumens, the reflected brightness by the screen will still amount to the same number of lumens. On the other hand, if your gain is more than 1.0 to 1.5 or 2.0 while your projector lumens remain the same, the number of reflected brightness lumens will be equivalent to ( projector screen lumens multiplied by the gain ratio).

E.g., if your projector screen has 1,000 lumens and the gain ratio is 2.0, then the reflected brightness will be 2,000 lumens, making it slightly brighter than the initial brightness.

Projector screen gain table

Screen size

(in inches)

Distance to screen

(in ft, Lambert)

0.5 gain  0.8 gain 1.0 gain 1.5 gain
100” 33 fl 16.5 fl 28 fl 33 fl 50 fl
110” 28 fl 14 fl 22 fl 28 fl 42 fl
120” 23 fl 11.5 fl 18 fl 23 fl 34.5 fl
135” 19 fl 9.5 fl 15 fl 19 fl 28.5 fl
150” 15 fl 7.5 fl 12 fl 15 fl 22.5 fl
200” 8.5 fl 4 fl 7 fl 8.5 fl 13 fl

How Do I Measure Gain on a Projector Screen?

Screen gain is measured from the center of the screen’s viewpoint, which is the projector’s brightest reflective point.

When you measure the screen brightness from the side, the light of the projected image drops off and becomes half brighter than the one viewing at the center, also called a half gain viewing angle.

Screen gain is also determined by the type of material used on your screen, and some materials can either increase or decrease the light on the projected image.

How Do I Measure Gain on a Projector Screen

Screen brightness is measured using foot-lamberts, or you can use the SI unit. The recommended brightness of a screen should be between 12fl to a maximum of 22 fl. A brightness of more than 22 fl is recommended for places with ambient light.

What Is a Good Gain for a Projector Screen?

The industrial standard gain of a screen is 1.0. This shows that the reflected brightness is dispersed equally on all sides and still clearly visible from various angles.

What Is a 2.0 Gain Projector Screen?

A 2.0 gain is when a screen reflects double as much light as the standard 1.0 screen gain. Alternatively, the projector image reflects in one direction towards the optimal view instead of in multiple directions.

The brightness becomes slightly brighter than the 1.0 gain, but not twice as bright. Due to this, screen images are not as brighter when viewed from the side, as the light aims more toward the center of the seating area.

Low Projector Screen Gain

Low gain screens minimize the projected image’s brightness; they carry a gain factor rate of 1.0 to 1.3. Low gain has a vibrant contrast and is suitable for places where ambient light is minimal, like home theaters and small rooms.

Pros of Low Projector Screen Gain

  • Have a better viewing range with lower bright lights, mainly with darker screens like gray.
  • Reduces projector brightness, allowing the viewer to have a clear view.
  • Have a fantastic home theater view, particularly when paired with high-lumen projectors.
  • Produces different colors.

Cons of Low Screen Gain

High Projector Screen Gain

High screen gain reflects more of the projector’s light power towards the projection path and less light power to the other angular zones. This reduces the brightness from the center optimal view range and the half gain viewing angle.

High-gain projectors cannot evenly reflect colors like blue, green, and red; this causes color alterations in images that are visible as you move in various viewing angles.

Pros of High Projector Screen Gain

  • Has clear and visible images in more bright settings.
  • The high gain screen makes dark conditions more visible when combined with a low-lumen projector.
  • The high-gain screen can reflect minimal light from the ceiling and walls.
  • The high-gain screen is ideal for eliminating light from portable fabric screens that resist general lighting.

Cons of High Projector Screen Gain

  • Despite having clear images, high screen gain has a slight viewing angle.
  • People beyond the optimal viewing angle receive minimum brightness; hence it requires you to sit opposite the screen to enjoy enough brightness.
  • Some screens experience adversity while producing colors, thus observable color depositions once a person shifts the viewing angle.
  • Not bright enough for a bigger audience due to the slight viewing angle.

Difference Between Front and Rear Projector Screen Gain

Front projection screens reflect light, while rear projection screens transfuse the light. Generally, rear projection screens do not express reflection but a wave of the rear-projected light that is viewable from the front. The light is called transmittance. The rear projection comes in various materials, which you can also use for front projection.

Rear projectors have a better concentration of color and contrast in surfaces with extreme ambient light, while more lumen vanishes. When using the rear projector, you are likely to use fewer lumens than the front projector since it is near the screen.

Since rear projectors are located near the screen, they will require a short-throw lens for the screen to be filled. They also require a particular type of screen that will let the light go through it.

On the other hand, front projection screens tend to be brighter when used in darker rooms. Though the brightness will depend on the screen gain and projector output, the front projection is more viewable, but the space is minimal.

In front projection, the projector is positioned away from the screen in a central place. The space can be behind or above the audience, allowing most light to be thrown back to the audience to give a proper visual.

A front projector can briefly obstruct visuals on the screen as people move around in front of it. It may result in placing the projector on taller stands, which can be more expensive and have poor visual clarity. Also, the fan causes noise that can be a problem for the people seated near the projector.

Comparison between the front and rear projection screen; 

Features

Front Projection

Rear Projection

Ambient light Requires darker rooms since the light sources hold the projector’s output. Have a better concentration of color and contrast in places with ambient light.
Contrast Projector screen gain does not affect contrast, while ambient light affects the contrast.

 

Rear projection is barely affected by other light sources; thus, the contrast is better in the presence of an external source.

Since ambient light comes from a different direction than the projector, the light will pass through the screen instead of being reflected; thus, ambient light will not affect the contrast like in front projection.

Space The front projection has more floor space since it does not require the area behind the screen. In rear projection, the space behind is determined by the size of the screen.
Viewing angle In front projection, the viewing angle highly relies on the gain. The higher the gain, the more confined the optimal angle of view. The viewing angle depends upon the quality of the material used to spread the light across the viewing. space. Darker materials tend to scatter light more equally.
Brightness In front projection, the screen gain and projector output determine the brilliance. Front projector screens tend to be brighter in darker rooms. Rear projection lumens are lost due to light being spread on different sides. Thus causing a counterbalance in high ambient light.

Best Screen Gain Rating for Outdoor Projectors

The best gain rating is the 1.0 standard since it allows the projector to reflect light perfectly without destroying the image’s brightness. A higher gain than 1.3 will negatively influence the viewing angle and poor hot spot. It is essential to balance gain, so use that with a ratio of 1.0 to 1.3.

How Does a Projector Gain Increase Picture Quality?

By increasing the brightness, the quality of images produced by a projector screen becomes brighter and distinct. Brightness can be increased by adding higher light output or projector lumens rating.

How to Increase Projector Lumens? 

  1. Start by cleaning the projector lens to remove dirt that obstructs the light from emerging from the lens to the screen.
  2. Use the button to increase the projector lamp light output to the highest setting. Also, avoid keeping it in its brightest form to prevent the lamp from burning out.
  3. If your projector has a detachable air cleaner, remove and clean it. A projector generates more heat on its highest light output, requiring more airflow to stay cool to project clear images.
  4. Go for a projection mode that has a high light output. For brightness, choose bright, standard, or presentation lumens; for a darker view, select the cinema, eco, video, or movie projector.
  5. Consider changing your projector bulb if you have used it over an extended period to avoid dimming due to wear and tear.

Related: How Many Lumens for Outdoor Projectors?

How to Increase Your Projector Brightness Output? Darken the Room

If your projector is dimmer than you can handle, make the room darker and let the only light come from the projector, giving you sharper images. During the day, you can close the windows since direct sunlight reduces projector brightness even at 4,000 lumens.

Shift to a White Projector Screen

Darker screens like gray consume most of the light released by your projector, causing the images to appear darker. On the contrary, a white screen reflects all the light cast.

Consider Using High-Gain Screens

High-gain screens have exceptional surfaces that improve the effectiveness of the light released, thus producing higher-quality images. Although you can only view the images from a perpendicular angle, viewing from the sides will degrade the images.

Gain on a Projector Screen FAQs

Is 1.3 Gain Good for the Screen?

A 1.3 screen gain is in the range of standard recommended gain, and there is only a slight difference in the brightness from the initial 1.0 gain factor.

What Is Half Gain Projector Screen?

This is when a viewer advances to the side from the optimal central angle of the screen, and the brightness of the screen images drops off to half of the brightness emitted at the center of the viewing angle, this change in brightness is called half gain.

How Bright Should a Projector Be?

The level of brightness will depend on the purpose of the projector. For an indoor projector, the number of lumens should be between 2,000 and 3,000.

In comparison, outdoor and highly lit rooms should be 3000 to 5000 brightness.

Conclusion

The ideal projector screen has high screen gain when you want a projector to use outdoors.

On the contrary, the low gain projector or neutral setup will be better if you need to watch from a darker room.

Making the correct choice will be based on your viewing conditions, the way your projector has been applied, and the available space. Take proper care of your projector to ensure the brightness stays the same.

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