For years, business professionals have been using digital projectors to give presentations from their laptop computers. Professional photographers and videographers, too, use digital projectors to give slide and video presentations at workshops and conventions.
Early digital projectors were about the size of a microwave oven. The quality was acceptable, but the projected images had noticeable grain. What's more, those early digital projectors started at around $5,000.
So, the size, cost and quality of early projectors made them undesirable accessories for advanced amateur photographers and videographers.
Today, that has all changed. Epson, HP, InFocus, Mitsubishi, Philips, NEC, Sony, Toshiba and Viewsonic all offer digital projectors capable of projecting high-quality images. Most companies offer models that can fit in a briefcase. Weight starts at about 3.2 pounds. The cost is still much higher than a 35-mm projector, with new models now ranging in price from $1,300 to $4,000. I say "new" models because you can find used ones on eBay (www.ebay.com). In fact, the last time I checked, there were two Kodak digital projectors listed for less than $1,000. (Kodak stopped making digital projectors several years ago.)
Image resolution, brightness, color and contrast control, keystone correction control, size and weight all affect the cost of a digital projector. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. So, it is important to consider those factors before you choose a digital projector.
Digital projectors offer photographers several advantages when giving a slide show. Because the slide show is prepared on the computer, using programs such as Microsoft's PowerPoint, the show easily can be modified, even up to the last minute. And because the pictures can be enhanced in the digital darkroom, dust and scratches on a picture are a thing of the past. What's more, the presenter never has to worry about a slide sticking in a 35-mm slide tray, a plight I've suffered many times.
Video shooters can benefit from a digital projector, too. Before the digital projector, the only option for sharing a video with a large group was to use a television set, which, unless it's a large-screen, high-definition model, has a lower resolution than a digital projector.
There is yet another benefit to owning a digital projector. If your children have games on their (or your) laptop, you can use a projector to view them on a screen or wall for giant-size fun.
You can compare digital projectors on the Web at the following Web sites:
Rick Sammon is the host of the Digital Photography Workshop on the DIY Network.