So, you’re watching a movie or gaming on your DLP projector and you notice that, when a person or object moves very quickly, there’s a strange rainbow aura around the object. Don’t panic! You haven’t been spiked with LSD – what you’re seeing is known as the “rainbow effect” and it’s fairly common with single chip digital light processing projectors. Read on to find out why this happens and what, if anything, you can do about it.
A WORD ON HOW DIGITAL LIGHT PROCESSING (DLP) PROJECTORS WORK:
Put as simply as possible, DLP projectors create images by projecting the lamp through a spinning color wheel and bouncing the image off a single chip (DMD) which is surfaced by microscopic mirrors. The colors are all made up from red, blue, and green, and are actually layered on top of each other, instead of being seen simultaneously like with a normal TV.
WHAT CAUSES THE “RAINBOW EFFECT”?
Because the colors in the DLP color wheel are being quickly layered, rather than being seen simultaneously, the rainbow effect occurs when objects or people on the screen move very quickly, or when viewers glance away and then refocus. It’s usually not a big deal and, to most people, it’s not even noticeable. However, if you’re eyes are particularly sensitive, it can cause eye-strain and even nausea. It is more noticeable on business or presentation projectors and is much less prominent on the latest gaming or cinematic projectors.
IS THERE ANY WAY TO ELIMINATE/MINIMIZE THE RAINBOW EFFECT?
The “rainbow effect” is the most-used argument by lovers of LCD. And, it’s true, LCD projectors don’t tend to suffer from this phenomenon. But projectors with LCD technology cost a whole lot more and, aside from the rainbow effect (which most people don’t even detect), you get exactly the same viewing or gaming experience. Personally, I wholeheartedly prefer the DLP projector experience. If you feel the same, here are a few little tips and tricks you can try to minimize the rainbow effect:
# 1: Reduce the brightness settings on your machine, or switch to ECO mode.
# 2: If there is a setting to allow it, try turning up the color wheel speed, so that the image processing time is faster.
# 3: Try dimming the ambient light in your viewing space.
# 4: There is software you can download which removes rainbows by adding a shadow effect, but many who’ve tried this say that it seriously diminishes the picture quality.
SUMMARY: ARE YOU “OVER THE RAINBOW”?
If you’re like me and you love the DLP projector gaming and viewing experience (and the fact that they’re A LOT more affordable!), a couple of little rainbows won’t make you switch over to the LCD camp. But, if you’ve tried a couple of my tips above and it’s so bad that it’s actually interfering with your viewing experience, it might be time to start saving your pennies for a better projector!
Many of the latest DLPs claim to have no rainbow effect at all. I recommend reading reviews carefully on any model you’re considering to see what people say about rainbows – gamers tend to have really high expectations and be brutally honest in their reviews. The BenQ HT2150ST, for example, has multiple reviews from people who say they’ve seen no rainbow circles at all, even when they’re specifically looking for them.
Hey, maybe you’ll even find a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow and be able to spend the dough on a high-end projector!