What’s your illumination type?

Use our selection tool to determine if lamp or laser is right for you

​Are you looking for projection technology and a little unclear about what option best fits your application?

With a better understanding of factors such as where and how you’ll be using it, the type of content you’re showing, the brightness you’ll need, the illumination lifetime, the installation, and budget, you can determine the best fit for your needs.

If you've had a chance to read Illuminating ProAV: A how-to guide to choosing the right projection application, then you might find yourself closer to making a decision about which projector is right for you. Our Illumination Selection Tool can also help you make that decision as it walks you through some key questions to narrow down the right Christie® solution for your project.

If you need reminders about some of the key criteria to selecting the right light, refer to this page for a refresher. You can jump in and out of the tool and start back where you left off at any time.

Lamps or lasers: Helping you make the choice

Performance: Brightness

Making the comparison between the different technology options can be confusing. Understanding how the different measurements stack-up means you’ll be able to compare apples to apples when it comes to lumens.

How bright is bright?

Here's how the different technology options within the categories of lamp and laser stack up on brightness.

RGB pure laser 20-60K
Xenon lamp 10-45K
Laser phosphor 1-30K
Mercury lamp 1-30K
Laser phosphor hybrid (Laser and LED) 15K

Lumens (K)

Confusing technical terminology can make comparisons challenging. For example, the industry reports brightness in three different ways - ANSI, ISO and Center - each based on different criteria with different tolerances. Here's how the brightness of a single projector would translate into each of these different measurements. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to lumens.

Market specification
Minimum allowed performance
Lumen specifications

Performance: Color space

Achieving proper color balance for accurate reproduction, without sacrificing brightness, is the holy grail of color fidelity. However, not every situation demands the same depth of color.

A presentation, spreadsheet or video may be adequately served by Rec.709 (equivalent to HDTV) delivered by a lamp or laser phosphor projector, while projection mapping could need RGB pure laser because it opens up the color palette for powerful visuals.

Color volume comparison


Rec. 2020

RGB pure laser is the only projection technology to approach full Rec. 2020

Significantly expands the color palette

Provides freedom to create colors on screen previously impossible

Provides intense color saturation making it look significantly brighter than all other light sources


Xenon lamps

Some laser phosphor

More color palette than Rec. 709 means slightly more realistic and lifelike colors

Rec. 709

Mercury lamps

Some laser phosphor

Aligns perfectly with the HDTV standard

Rec. 2020
Rec. 709

Installation: Contrast ratio

Contrast ratio, in its simplest form, is the ratio of the light reflected from an all-white image and an all-black image. The higher the contrast ratio, the more detail you can see on the projected image whether its numbers, pictures, graphs, text, or video. Contrast is what makes it possible for us to see the subtle shades of colors, which means good contrast is all about seeing the details. So a projector with a 3000:1 contrast ratio means that the white image is 3000 times brighter than the black image.

Choosing a high contrast ratio may not mean you’re choosing the best for your application. A lower contrast ratio may be exactly what your environment needs. One of the ways you can determine this is to consider the amount of ambient light you are dealing with. Ambient room light is the enemy of contrast. It only takes a small amount of room light to drop contrast dramatically, regardless of the contrast ratio of your projector. This is why you want to be sure you’re choosing the right projector for the right environment.

Installation: Key factors

Deciding whether to choose lamp or laser illumination depends on many factors that relate directly to how you will be using your projector.

  • What is the projection surface?
  • What is the lowest brightness level you’re willing to accept before refreshing your light source?
  • What are the total hours of use required for the lifetime of the projector?
  • Will you be turning it on and off frequently?
  • What amount of ambient light are you dealing with?
  • Will the projector be easily accessible for maintenance?

This comparison chart can help you stack up your options as you decide which is best for your application.

See how they stack up

After you have your application well defined, you can assess how the features and benefits of lamps and lasers map back to your needs.

Lamp-basedLaser phosphorRGB pure laser

Form factor

Small, light and quiet

Slightly larger and louder than equivalent lamp-based, but smaller and quieter than RGB pure laser

Larger and noisier than LaPh for the time being, but new technologies are quickly shrinking in size and reducing cooling noise


Get back to full brightness at any time quickly, easily and cost effectively

Typically 500-4000 hours between lamp replacements

Mid-high brightness

Degradation follows a slower decline (50% @ 20,000 hours)

Some designs allow you to boost initial brightness, but sacrifice the 20,000 hours to 50% lifetime

Game-changing brightness and color/contrast performance

Extremely slow and stable degradation than lamp or LaPh (80% @ 30,000 hours)


Lowest purchase price

Great for dual budgets (purchase/maintenance)

Demands initial price premium over lamp-based

Cost-effective entry point into high-brightness laser illumination and reduced costs over lifetime of projector

New generation of products are very affordable and the price premium over laser phosphor is small and continues to rapidly drop in price


Purchase and install new lamps and filters at a cadence dependent on usage

No lamp maintenance or consumables (some may require filter changes)

Good for hard-to-reach applications

Ultra-low maintenance

Cadence of new filter purchase and installation depends on usage

Whether you still have questions or you’re ready to make your decision, contact one of our experts for more information.