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I wonder if anyone can offer some advice, please.
I belong to a camera club that has just received a grant from Awards For All – the Lottery. We have a total of £1300 to spend on a laptop computer and a digital projector. Photoshop, a screen and a projector table are funded separately within the overall grant.
The setup will be used primarily for projected image competitions, viewing slideshows and videos and running digital imaging workshops. Obviously we need kit that is suitable for photography rather than just business Powerpoint presentations.
My experience with laptops and projectors has been somewhat woeful. They never seem to quite agree with one another. Either the laptop or the projector displays the image correctly while the other shows an image that is squashed or stretched. Presumably this is due to them wanting to display different pixel dimensions / aspect ratios.
So the question is this: Please can you recommend a good laptop and a good projector that will both show the right image and will cost very close to £1300?
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Pity you're so restricted on what you can spend it on. If it's anything like my local camera club laying on a few courses on "An Introduction to Digital Cameras" would be useful. Lol!
Pretty much any laptop should do the job, you don't need anything special. Spend the money on a decent projector - that could take the whole of the £1300, in fact.
As CB said, you are a bit limited on budget.
One other thing you may need to consider is that the laptop / projector will need calibrating, so unless a club member has a suitable device you may need to factor that in as well.
Our club were lucky enough to get £10K lottery grant a few years back and we spent around £3000 just on the projector at that time. Even so, unless the thing is properly calibrated the images can be ruined by projection, a real problem when you get involved in inter-club comps and others haven't bothered to set their projectors up properly.
We are looking at buying new kit soon (using our own money) and are struggling with budget. We are looking at getting an HDMI / High Def projector next time rather than the canon xeed sx 600 we already have (bulb replacement is between £300 - £400 ouch!) and their prices seem to have come down a bit, but we haven't selected one yet
The latest size requirements for projected digital images, in photographic exhibitions, seems to be 1400 x 1050. It used to be 1024 x 768. Obviously the light output needs to be good to fill a large screen.
I wouldn't skimp on a cheap laptop. Buy one with at least 3gb of memory and a separate 1gb graphics card. Many cheap laptops use up system memory and have an on-motherboard graphics. Don't forget you will probably have a requirement for audio visual shows, once you get the kit.
Can I make a suggestion that you also buy spare bulbs for the projector as well out the money. They can be very expensive to replace when they go!
Thank you for the above. I wasn't involved in making the bid and I know full well that there's a lot less here than I would have asked for, but hey, we are where we are. We know we'll not get perfection.
I hoped somebody might mention makes and models .... and how to ensure that a circle on the laptop is also a circle on the projector screen, given the comments I had made in the original post.
Quote: and how to ensure that a circle on the laptop is also a circle on the projector screen, given the comments I had made in the original post.
with our system that is simply a case of making sure that the laptop screen resolution and projector image resolution are set to the same ratio
Don't forget to budget for a ColorMunki. The calibration of the projector is crucial, especially if you are projecting images that will be judged in competitions (and make sure the judge uses the same profile on his PC/Mac monitor when he is doing his homework).
As has been mentioned you're going to be limited by your budget and I can't really speak about laptops (though I suspect most modern laptops should do the job) but regarding digital projectors, Canon XEED's are generally considered the gold standard but out of your price bracket I'm afraid. Alternatives I've seen mentioned are: Optoma DLP, Epson TW3500 and Infocus X17 (these may not be the latest model numbers). This company might be helpful but caveat emptor: http://www.projectorpoint.co.uk/Camera-Club-Projectors.htm.
I'd also recommend getting a calibration device. Whilst the Colormunki is probably one of the best, the Spyder 3 might be more affordable for you. Whilst it's good advice to buy a spare lens for the projector, I think you'll struggle to buy that along with a laptop and calibrator.
Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
Thank you, Simon. Very helpful answer. I was not aware of ProjectorPoint - their website was very informative. I'll see what we can sort out with them, but I'll keep an eye on prices, of course.
My club bought a projector and laptop 6-7 years ago using a Lottery Grant but sadly we could not get a grant for the replacement kit 18 months ago which the Club funded. We bought an Lcos projector because the DLP projector we already had was not good enough for competitions. Many large Clubs use the Canon XEED SX80 projector now for competitions and, after much research that is what we bought. However, it cost £2,400 though Canon did give us an EOS 1000D as a discount. It is difficult to set up projectors even with the right kit and we have had several discussions with canon and others about this. Although the LCos projector is a huge improvement on the DLP projector, it is still diffcult to manage highlights to the expectations of our members and have manually reduced the brightness a little (a tip from Canon). I do not think that you need to spend more than £500 on a Laptop and we bought a Dell Studio 15 which has the necessary two channel graphics card; you may be able to get away with less than this.
Given that an LCos projector really looks out of range for you, you will have to look at a DLP projector but setting them up is not straightforward. We learnt an awful lot about using a DLP projector but it took nearly 4 years to do so. Did you ask for more originally as you can certainly request at least £5,000?
Many thanks, Dave. I wasn't involved in the original bid, but I believe we got all that we requested. Looks like we'll have to make the best of what we have. John
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