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How good of a projector do I need for projecting movies outside at night? Answered

Going to try to set up an outdoor movie theater in my backyard.  If I was only going to use the projector at night, how bright of a projector would I need?  From articles I've seen, 2000 lumens is the usual answer.  I'm just wondering if I could get away with 1000-1500 lumens because the projectors I've seen that can output 2000 lumens aren't that cheap....
So could I get away with less than 2000 lumens?  And can anyone recommend any projectors that work well outdoors that are on the cheaper side?

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bwrussell

2 years ago

Your brightness question is pretty well covered but the screen is important too. They make special screen material for out door use which is mildew resistant and has a higher gain than a typical screen. You should be able to find the material, or screens made from it, on Amazon or specialty retailers.

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Downunder35m

2 years ago

Back in my days we a a simple 40W globe in a dia projector and no problems seeing the images on the screen.
The "required" lumes are a thing based on surrounding light, type of screen and actual content.
If everyone is used to totaly darkness even 200 lumes will do to make things visible.
A simple white wall requires more mulen than a dedicated projection screen.
And of course size does matter here!
If you have a 2000 lumen projector and a 1000 lumen projector capable of producing the same screen size than of course the 2000 lumen model wins.
But half the projection size of the 1000 lumen model and it will appear much brighter.

IMHO your best option is to go somewhere where you can actually test some model in action, like a shop ;)
Check the differences in possible brightness, features and most importantly input options.
Another key feature is the options to correct the image - which in return affects how you can setup the system.
Makes no sense to get a projector that you need toinstall very high with a downfacing image if you can't correct the trapezoidal distortions.
There are also backlight screens available, which can be a nice option if the crowd would otherwise be blocking the projection path but they require a projector capable of mirroring the image.
So what is your planned scree size?
And if you can accept a smaller size the cheaper models will do fine considering a low light enviroment.
Just make sure you have all input options you need.

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Kiteman

2 years ago

Best thing to say is "it depends" - how much extraneous light (street lights, bonfires, torches) might mess up the show? Are your audience likely to be wandering in and out of a brightly-lit location and ruining their night vision? How big a screen are you trying to project onto?

The darker the venue, the more reflective the screen, the weaker the projector you can get away with.