How to Calibrate a Projector

Get the best picture on your projector

What to Know

  • Optimize screen size by physically moving the projector and using Keystone or Lens Shift.
  • Adjust the hardware focus until the picture is clear and sharp.
  • Use the software settings to optimize contrast, color, temperature, brightness, and more.

This article takes you through the different steps needed to calibrate a project and get the best picture.

How Do I Calibrate My Projector?

To calibrate your projector and optimize the picture, do the following:

It’s best to have someone sitting down, where they’ll be watching, to let you know when the picture is clear. Get their feedback after changing each setting, especially if you are not looking at the display yourself, or if you're at a strange viewing angle.

  1. Optimize the size of the display to match your projector screen or the projection area. Move the projector physically forward, or backward, until your projector creates the desired screen size.

  2. Adjust the Keystone or Lens Shift—Lens Shift is available on more expensive projectors—to optimize the shape and location of the projected image. This is most important when the projector is resting on an uneven surface. If you are happy with the screen size and location, after moving the projector in step 1, this may not be necessary.

    Keystone adjustment dial highlighted on a projector
  3. Adjust the focus, usually a hardware dial, to optimize the sharpness and clarity of the picture.

    Projector hardware dials to adjust Focus and Keystone for visuals.
  4. Using the software settings on the projector, fine tune the additional video options. Be sure to review the following: Brightness, contrast, black levels, color, tint, temperature, sharpness, and screen ratio.

    Your projector may or may not be missing some of the software video options, or they may be called something different — like Dynamic Blacks versus black levels. Refer to your projector’s user manual if you don’t understand what a setting is, or what it changes.

Your projector should now be calibrated as-is. Remember, if you move your projector to another location, change the projection screen, or just go a long time between uses, you will probably need to recalibrate your device! Some people like to recalibrate based on what they’re watching or doing, like playing video games.

How Do I Get the Best Picture on My Projector?

Whether you’ve paid thousands of dollars for a high-end projector or grabbed a relatively inexpensive, generic brand from a major retailer, you'll need to calibrate it before use.

When we mention calibrating before use, we really mean it. Projectors are expensive and you're rightly expecting a great image. In order to get that, however, you need to take the time to set it up correctly, or else you'll be disappointed in the image you see.

Should I Calibrate My Projector?

If this is the first time using your projector then it must be calibrated. If it’s only been a few days to a couple of weeks since you last used your projector, check the picture. If you’re satisfied with the clarity, color, and settings, then you can skip another round of calibration.

How Much Does It Cost to Calibrate a Projector?

It costs nothing if you calibrate the projector yourself. Undoubtedly, you can hire AV professionals to do it for you, but there’s almost no reason for doing so. At some point, even if your projector has been calibrated previously, you will have to do it again.

How Do I Optimize My Projector?

Optimize and calibrate are often used interchangeably. That's not wrong, but it's not exactly right.

Optimizing your projector to produce the best picture possible is essentially a balancing act. You must calibrate the device before using it, which involves both hardware and software adjustments. You must continually change those settings until the picture quality is to your liking.

Since every projector is different, and everyone has a different preference for video settings, you’ll need to use your eyes to find what works best for your setup.

There are some guidelines to follow before calibration:

  • Always calibrate in the darkest setting possible.
  • Install or place the projector exactly as it will be used—don’t calibrate it and then move it.
  • The walls beside or around the image area will determine the darkness of the projector’s blacks.
  • If you are not using a projector screen make sure the image area is clean, unobstructed, and is as bright as possible (try not to choose a dark wall).
FAQ
  • How do I manually calibrate an Epson projector?

    Press the Menu button on the remote control, and then select Extended > Easy Interactive Function and press Enter. Select Manual Calibration and press Enter. Adjust the focus, if necessary, select Yes to confirm the calibration, and then follow the prompts using a pen to complete the calibration process.

  • How do I calibrate a Smartboard projector?

    To calibrate a SMART Board 6000 or 6000 Pro projector, open SMART Settings on the connected computer and select SMART Hardware Settings. Choose your display, select Advanced Settings, and then select Calibrate. Follow the on-screen prompts; when the calibration screen appears, use the pen to press the targets until the progress bar is full and you see the Calibration Successful message.

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