Digital Projection

Canon XEED WUX500
Canon XEED WUX6010

I think I'm a pretty passionate guy when it comes to wanting to display my work as best as I can.  Any good photographer should care very much about obtaining the best environment and materials to show their work. It is why some of us have personal preferences for the papers we print on.

For a long while I had been looking for a digital projector that would give me the equivalent image quality as what I see on a well calibrated computer monitor. I also needed a good digital projector for my workshops as we tend to sit in a room during the afternoons for around three hours doing image reviews / critiques and also some editing approach work. I needed a good digital projector for this also.

 Canon WUX500 digital projector.

Canon WUX500 digital projector.

Way back in 2007 when I started to look into digital projection I found that the Canon LCOS series of projectors were the closest one could get to the quality I was seeking. Indeed I owned a Canon Xeed XS-50 and then a Canon Xeed SX-800 in my pursuit for the best image quality I could obtain. They were pretty good but they suffered in lack of dynamic range and in particular, they couldn't really display the detail in the shadows that an LCD screen conveys.

 Canon WUX6010 digital projector.

Canon WUX6010 digital projector.

Over the past month I have bought two new projectors. The Canon Xeed WUX500 and Canon Xeed WUX6010. Both have an improved contrast ratio of 2000:1 as apposed to my previous projectors which had a ratio of just 900:1. They are also much brighter sitting at 5000 and 6000 lumens respectively. They are also full HD projectors with resolutions at 1920 x 1200. The resolution is so good that I can't see the pixels at comfortable viewing distances, and indeed, I am now able to see the film grain on my images now :-) 

The WUX500 is much quieter than the 6010 and also smaller. It is my preferred choice of projector for classroom work, while the 6010 is ideal for a larger venue as it allows for custom lenses to be fitted. Whereas the WUX500 has a fixed zoom lens (ideal for small rooms to medium / large scale rooms), the 6010's standard lens is designed for longer throw distances and therefore larger spaces. The 6010 has many lenses that can be fitted from wide angle (short throw) to telephoto (very long throw and therefore very large room).

The colour reproduction of both projectors out of the box is accurate. I do not need to calibrate them. They are also capable of showing image detail in the shadows - the biggest complaint I had about Canon's older projectors. Also, I notice that highlight detail is spot on also. Years ago I would find I had to play with the gamma setting on my old projectors to try to squeeze out the subtle highlight information present in some images. Not now - the WUX500 and WUX6010 both are capable of showing every detail that I see on a good quality LCD monitor straight out of the box.

If you are on the look out for a projector that is going to give you the closest reproduction to a high quality LCD screen, with full HD capability, then I can't recommend the Canon WUX500 enough. I think this is the projector to get out of the two I've mentioned: it is quieter, smaller, and just as bright as the larger 6010. Use it on 'Photo/RGB' mode, and turn the lamp to 'Power saving'. The lamp at full-power is too bright for most classroom work, and moving it to 'Power Saving' makes it more comfortable for the eye, and has the added bonus of making the projector so quiet you don't notice it.

I love digital projection. To me, it is similar to the beauty of looking at a transparency on a light-table. There is something wonderful about using light to illuminate photographs. It makes them more alive.

I would imagine this post today will be of interest to photographic clubs or professionals that are looking for the best reproduction they can get for their images. The price point of both projectors does not allow for these to be bought for amateur use (unless you are just as nutty as I am about projected light). I hope this review will be of good use to those that are looking. 

In a nutshell: digital projection has come of age. For a long while it was always the case that a projected image never looked as good as one displayed on a good quality LCD screen. This is now not the case any more. Digital projection can offer the same quality. You just have to choose the right projector and pay more for it than you would for an LCD screen.

The Canon XEED LCOS projectors - specifically the WUXGA models (1920 x 1200 pixels) are in my opinion strongly recommended.