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.

Photographic Club Talk - Inverclyde 18th October

I will be at Inverclyde photographic club on the 18th of October, to give a talk about my photography. I'm sure if you want to come along, they will be very happy to see you. Last week I had a really excellent night at Perthshire's photographic club. Not only did I feel I got a well researched introduction, but the closing speech was also well informed, and the speaker even had a copy of my first book, which he had read thoroughly. It's so nice when I feel the club in question has put a lot of effort into finding out about me before I come to give a talk. It was a very pleasant evening.


The value of photographic clubs

Over the past four or five years, I've had the pleasure of visting many photographic clubs throughout Scotland to give talks on my photography. It's an immensely enjoyable experience to present to an audience (once you get over your initial nerves of doing so) and I often find the process gives me a chance to appreciate what it is that I do, and how much others can gain something from the presentation. midlothian-photographic-club

I think photographic clubs are great venues for people of all abilities and levels of interest to attend. I would say that although most clubs differ in some subtle ways, they are full of social people who like to meet others.

I feel that it's often easy to feel daunted by the effort to visit a club where you do not know people and where you may feel like an outsider upon initial contact. But every photographic club I've been to, is really eager to get your attendance. The sad truth of the matter is that they find it hard to attract members. When I meet club secretaries and chair people, they are often selfless in their aim to keep the club going. Often having to organise day out events, inter-club competitions, presentations and it's very time consuming for them to keep looking for speakers to their clubs as this is often done as a part time activity outside of their working lives.

The thing that strikes me most about every photographic club I've visited, is that there are usually not many young members there. By young, I mean 30 year olds. If I didn't know better, I would take the demographic of most clubs as an indication that photography is of interest to people who are more advanced in their years and that photography is not of interest to people in their teens, 20's or 30's. However, this is not the case. Photography is going through one of the biggest growths in interest it's seen ever. Everyone has a camera these days and cameras have become so cheap and ubiquitous, that people of all ages have the kinds of image capture quality at their disposal that a 17 year old in the 80's would have dreamed of.

So why are clubs failing to attract members?

I think there are many reasons for this. Firstly, with the availability of high quality information available now on the internet, a lot of budding photographers are staying at home and finding and sharing ideas through websites, blogs and forums. I also would dare to suggest that since photography is a predominantly male activity (yes, women like it too), a lot of men would prefer to find out information on a forum than attend a club. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a lot of people assume that clubs can or are very competitive and that you may have to be very good to be a member.

I find this a real shame. Because clubs are excellent places to meet others who like photography in your neighbourhood. It's very hard to find others who share the same interests in photography because by nature, photography is a solitary activity.

Through my own workshops, and even my two book launches where I had around 20 workshop participants attend, I found a few of them established friendships and continue to go out together to make photographs when they can find time in their professional lives. I know of three participants for instance, who met at my two book launches who I sometimes meet up with (Hi Joe, Niall, Omer!).

Photographic clubs are keen to have people come along and join. Many of them have been going for decades and have been run by very friendly and supportive people where the club is everything to them, and without it, they would feel a hole in their lives. I think by attending clubs, you can only benefit. It's just a case of trying a few out to find one that feels right for you.

By the way, I have been a member of Midlothian photographic club for a few years. I haven't attended in the past year because of work commitments, but I will be going to see them on March 18th 2014 to give a talk, and to catch up with the members. It's been a while since I saw them last, but there are some special characters to this club (which is perhaps one of the reasons why I joined in the first place).

If you're considering joining a club, or feel a little daunted by going along to one, what might be a good idea is to offer to come along and give a talk on your own photography. It will help the clubs by introducing new speakers to their yearly syllabus, and it will also benefit you also by getting to visit the clubs and find out more about them, and whether they are right for you and what you are looking for.