Projector Buyer’s Guide to Color Brightness by Model

Derived when presentations consisted of a black font on a white background, the old lumens metric only measures white light. Lumens, or brightness, tells the projector buyer little about the brightness of colors in photos, videos or graphics. Fortunately, a newer metric gives projector buyers a measurement for the brightness of colors. Color Light Output, or more simply Color Brightness, quantifies the brightness of Red, Green and Blue; the primary colors of light. The photograph below shows two projectors setup side-by-side, set in their brightest mode. Both offer similar resolution, price and white brightness levels.

The projector on the left exhibits low Color Brightness; only a fraction of its white brightness. The one on the right shows equal amounts of Color and White Brightness. Colors on the right are much brighter, providing more impact. This document starts with a listing of projectors where the manufacturer specifies both White and Color Brightness. Second is a table containing projectors measured for their Color Brightness level by a 3rd party laboratory because the manufacturer did not specify the color brightness. Insist on brighter colors. When selecting a projector,consider both the brightness of White as well as the brightness of Color.

Low Color BrightnessHigh Color Brightness

Table 1: Models with Manufacturer specification for Color Brightness
Table 2: Models tested by 3rd party laboratory for Color Brightness

What’s behind this new Color Brightness metric?

 Color Light Output, or simply Color Brightness, measures the illuminance of the color
primaries Red, Green and Blue. The technical details of this measurement methodology
are defined in the newly available Information Display Measurements Standard published
by the Society of Information displays. The authors of this important standards document were volunteers from all corners of the display industry. These experts carefully examined each of the nearly 200 display metrics
in the document to make sure each was relevant, scientifically valid, and worth including in
the document. The Society of Information Displays (SID) is a globally recognized organization working to
help educate technical members of the display industry. SID was founded as a Professional
Society back in 1962. SID is made up today of about 5,000 display professionals.
More information about this document can be found at:

Why does the metric only measure Red, Green and Blue? What about all the other colors?

Computers and media players define colors as relative levels of Red, Green and Blue. For example, yellow is stored inside the
computer as bright red, bright green and no blue. Regardless of how the projector may create its image, the standard input signal is based on Red, Green and Blue and therefore it’s important to measure these standard color primaries.

What does the Brightness metric we’ve used for years represent?

Brightness, or technically Light Output, is only a measurement of white light. To measure brightness, projector makers will
take nine brightness readings. The nine readings are made across the entire image. The average of the nine measurements
is then multiplied by the screen area in square meters to determine the projector’s lumen output.

How is Color Brightness measured?

Color Light Output is measured almost exactly the same way as “Brightness” or white light output…but instead of measuring
white light, the primary colors are measured. Instead of just nine measurements, there are total of 27 measurements taken, with the three sample images below. The brightness of Red, Green and Blue are averaged, summed and multiplied by the screen area to determine the total
amount of Color Brightness.

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