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by Philip Greenspun, June 1999 (updated January 2007)

If you think you have too many friends, a good way to get rid of most of them is to insist that they come over to your house and watch every slide from your last vacation. Anyway, it worked for my parents...

Seriously, though, a slide show with a good story behind it can work pretty well. Try to pick the best 10 percent of your images to show; if there are 800 on the flash card after a trip, plan an 80-slide show. About half of the photos will be setup shots, not to be dwelt on. For example, you might flash a photo of a "Welcome to Vermont" sign for a second before showing some foliage and barn photos.

LCD Projectors for Digital Files

There are two kinds of LCD projectors:

  1. LCD projectors designed for business presentations, which means high contrast PowerPoint slides in a brightly lit room
  2. LCD projectors designed for watching movies, which means a wide range of tones and viewing in a darkened room

Of these two choices, unless you are going to be projecting in a brightly lit environment or have exceptionally high contrast images, the best product available for displaying photographs is a projector designed for showing movies. These are usually called "home theater" projectors.

What are the variables in home theater projectors?

  • resolution (higher is better)
  • brightness (brighter is better)
  • fan noise
  • portability

Any modern digital camera will be higher resolution than the best projector. Basically the highest resolution consumer-priced projectors are "HDTV 1080p" projectors with 1920x1080 resolution, a skimpy 2 megapixels. The next step down in price is a 720p projector offering 1280x720 pixels.

Brightness is measured in lumens. The bright projectors advertise 2000 lumens and are important to have if you're projecting in higher ambient lighting conditions or on a screen more than 7' wide. The dim projectors are down under 1000 lumens and have the advantages of lighter weight, greater portability, less heat and therefore less fan noise.

Our favorite projectors as of January 2007:


Are 35mm projectors dead? Not if you have a lot of old slide trays around. Nor if you want very high resolution without spending $thousands on an HDTV projector. Professional labs will print high-resolution digital files onto traditional 35mm slide film and then you can get excellent image quality with a $100 optical projector.

If you're going to organize your collection into slides, it is nice to be able to carry just the slides around and not the projector. Thus you want to have the same trays that everyone else has. In the United States, that means Kodak Carousel. In Europe, that means "European straight trays".

Which model of projector to buy? It barely matters. The autofocus feature is worth paying for. This compensates for the deformation of slides under the heat of projection, not for focus errors in the original photograph nor to set the lens for sharp focus on your particular screen.

If you are going to glass mount your slides, you can use a variety of fancy lenses ("flat-field"). Otherwise, you'll be pretty much limited to the cheap lens that comes with the projector (softish in the corners) or a Schneider "curved-field" lens (available from a variety of sources). The Schneider lenses sell new for about $250 and are much heavier than the lenses included with Kodak projectors.

You need a zoom and/or telephoto lens only if you are going to project in big auditoriums, the slide projector has to be way far back from the screen, and the screen isn't huge.

Medium Format

The Corkscrew, a slot canyon on the Arizona/Utah border, near the Glen Canyon Dam

In the glorious days of film, medium format projectors sold for between $1000 and $2000 and projected gloriously bright and high-resolution images. We will probably have to wait until 2020 before comparable image quality can be obtained from direct digital projection.

Quality came at a price, even in the old days. You usually had to painstakingly chop up the 120 chrome (slide) strips, clean Gepe glass slide mounts, and stick the delicate little images into the mounts. A 6x6cm image is too large to be left free to flop around in front of the lamp. Blunt-nosed tweezers and/or someone with good fine motor skills were helpful in getting the images into the mounts.

What were the high quality choices that you might find in the used market?

  • Rolleivision 66, taking straight trays. Original cost $1000 plus big $$ for a lens.
  • Hasseblad PCP-80 Carousel-type projector, looking like an inflated Kodak, for 6x6cm images. Original cost about $2000.
  • Mamiya Pro Cabin, which has the unique ability to project unmounted 120 chromes. You can just slide a strip through the projector! The Mamiya is also capable of projecting 6x7 images.

As of January 2007, the Mamiya and Rolleivision products were still available new at Adorama.

The Screen

Botaniska Tradgarden.  Visby, Gotland.

There are several different types of screens available. What you want is a flat or matte screen. This provides the sharpest image and widest viewing angle and is also the cheapest type of surface. You'll have to make the room reasonably dark. The other surfaces available screens are designed for MBAs who give presentations in lit rooms. The idea here is that nothing an MBA could possibly say would be interesting on its own so the guy has to have slides with bullets to show as well. Of course, even with the slides, the audience is liable to fall asleep when he hears the tired bromides that Mr. GladHand learned at B-school. So the the ambient illumination will be set fairly high. Rather than just project onto a white surface, what Mr. GladHand needs to do is project onto an array of lenses. These little molded lenses reflect more of the projector light back than a regular white wall or white fabric could. However, they also narrow the angle of reflection so everyone has to sit more or less in front of the screen. Worst of all from a photographer's point of view, these lenses reduce the available resolution of the image. No feature smaller than the little lenses built into the screen can be distinguished. There is no point in taking the trouble to use a digital SLR, prime lens, and tripod if your final goal is projecting onto a screen with little lenses.

A perfectly acceptable brand of screen is Da-Light. I like the ones that you mount up on your ceiling and then can pull down in an instant. Remember to get a flat or matte finish.

Put your address on the trays

Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park (Alaska)

If your slide tray is stolen from your minivan, you'll wish that you had written your mailing address on both the outside and inside of the box.

Readers' Comments

Add a comment

Glen Johnson , January 03, 1997; 11:35 A.M.

On Philip's recommendation, I went on and bought the Schneider 90mm f/2.5 CF lens for my Kodak Carousel projector. I have been using a 100mm - 150mm f/3.5 Kodak Ektanar (?) lens with this projector. I bought them both around 1970. The Schneider now costs $270 at B&H. A used one was recently advertised for $199, but it was gone by the time I called about it.

It is hard to make a direct comparison between these two lenses because the image size that you get with the 90mm focal length is actually quite a bit larger than the image size that you get with the 100mm focal length on the zoom. In order to do the comparison, I put the Schneider in the projector, viewed the slides, made my notes, and then installed the zoom and backed the projector up to get the same image size as had been obtained with the Schneider. I did a few slides with the reverse drill too.

My impression was that the Schneider is brighter (no surprize there - it is a stop faster, and the projector sits closer to the screen for the same image size). The Schneider is also sharper (once the slide has buckled under the heat). I examined the screen from close range very carefully with some brick and stone buildings to make this subjective judgement. Finally, colors seem more true, although this may be related to the brightness issue.

Regarding glass mounts, I went to a presentation last night where a professional slide show producer gave a talk on how he practices his craft. His perspective was that glass mounts were essential for any show that involves rapid transfer of images. He said that in music coordinated shows with multiple projectors, you don't have time to wait for the slide to buckle, or for the auto focus to work. You have to have accurate focus the instant that the slide drops. He said that glass mounts were the only way to have a highly repeatable slide plane for accurately focused instantaneous projection.

He also said that glass mounts were very important for shows where images were merged. The glass mount has registration pins to locate the image precisely in the mount. Images can shift with cardboard mounts.

Finally, he said that the typical charge to produce a simple 3 projector show coordinated to a music track is between $200 and $300 per minute of show. Charges for larger, more complex shows, will run higher.

Glen Johnson , January 03, 1997; 11:38 A.M.

One more tid bit on slide shows. He said that viewer feedback indicates that a very fast, multiple projector show is easier on the viewer when the slides are all either horizontal or vertical format. He said that with the glass mounts that you can use a horizontal format, but include vertical images with various masks. The glass mounts come with full opening, or with partial opening to the left, right, or center.

Glen Johnson , January 04, 1997; 09:16 P.M.

Since my previous "test" of the Schneider 90mm CF lens pitted it against an ancient Kodak zoom, it seemed like it would be fairer to Kodak to try one of their new fixed focal length lenses, so today I went to the local camera store and bought a Kodak Slide Projection CF lens with 102mm focal length and aperture of f/2.8. This lens sold at the camera store for less than $50, but it was a bright curved field lens and I thought it would be worth checking it out.

This evening I took a slide of a the Mac-O-Chee castle near West Liberty, Ohio and used it for comparison purposes. This castle was built in the 19th century, and at some point a brick chimney was added. The slide I used for the evaluation is a partial view of the upper part of the castle, which includes the chimney and its distinctive brick in the central portion of the image, with stone work throughout much of the remainder of the frame. There is an inscription on the stone in the lower left hand portion of this slide.

After the slide buckled, I focused on the brick using the remote controlled focus switch while standing about two feet from the screen. I then examined the inscriptions on the stone in the lower left hand corner. Occasionally, I viewed the slide by focusing on the inscription and then inspecting the chimney.

Both lenses were bright and color was subjectively good. The Schneider was able to provide excellent sharpness over the whole frame. It didn't matter whether you set the focus by looking at the inscription or the brick. Both snapped into focus at the same time.

With the Kodak, when the brick chimney was in sharp focus, the inscription was out of focus, and vice versa.

My subjective impression was that more detail was visible with the Schneider, even when projector placement was adjusted to provide the same image size with both lenses. Of course the Schneider is a third of a stop brighter, and it sits closer to the screen for the same image size, so this detail issue may be related to that.

I bought the Kodak with the intention of keeping it and returning the Schneider if it were able to perform reasonably close to the Schneider. I discussed this with the salesman at the time of purchase. Based on this test, I am going to keep the Schneider, in spite of the fact that it costs 5 times as much. the Kodak will be returned on Monday.

My impression based on past experience is that the slide projector is the great equalizer. If you use projector and screen as your primary method of viewing (as opposed to lupe and light table), then if you also use a cheap projection lens, you might as well buy the Sigma, Tokina, etc. lenses for your camera body. The differences between the aftermarket lenses and the brand name lenses is blurred by the lousy slide projection lenses that are typically stuck on most Carousel projectors.

Glen Johnson , January 12, 1997; 12:53 P.M.

Two more comments on the 90mm Schneider curved field lens based on additional use.

1. In my opinion, the best location to sit while viewing slides projected with the 90mm lens is at approximately the same distance from the screen as the lens is located. With the projector set up right behind the sofa, the sofa seats are the best in the house. Moving the sofa closer to the screen, or moving the projector back farther from the sofa, provides the same sort of feeling that you get when you sit in the first 10 rows of a movie theatre, i.e, the image is to large to get a good look at the whole thing at once.

I have the projector stand located at a distance from the 6'x6' pull down screen so that the projected image is approximately 3.5'x5.25'. Both horizontal and vertical format slides can be projected on the screen effectively at this location.

With projection lenses that have 100mm or longer focal lengths, you can sit closer to the screen than the lens, and the image size isn't too big for comfortable viewing.

2. Viewing old slides projected by this lens gave the sensation that the slides were all new. This lens shows off the shortcomings and strengths of your slides as effectively as the Schneider lupe and light table. There is no question about whether the photograher got it sharp or not. Some slides that had always appeared to be focused "OK," were clearly not sharp compared to the best slides. Technical differences between slides were much more readily discerned than with the Kodak projection lenses that I have used.

Glen Johnson , January 21, 1997; 09:13 A.M.

The focal length of your slide projector lens should be picked to match your room and viewing setting.

If you intend to sit at about the same distance from the screen as the projector, a 90mm lens is a good choice. If you intend to set the projector up fairly far behind the place where you will sit, then you should consider a 100mm or longer focal length. If your room is fairly small, and if you can put the slide projector out in front of the viewing seats, then something like a 70mm or possibly shorter lens will be best for you.

The shorter the focal length, the larger the image that the lens will project for a giving distance between the slide and the screen.

One other thing - when you set up your screen, try to get the projector up to the right height to eliminate the keystone effect. For sharpest results, the slide and the screen need to be parallel. I've outlined how to make an inexpensive projector stand over in the neighbor to neighbor section. Use the money you save on the projector stand to get a good lens.

S Lissner , March 08, 1997; 10:27 P.M.

Kodak Ektagraphic slide projectors manufactured after the summer of 1996 have an improved lamp module, which can be added to most older Ektagraphic III and Carousel projectors. The benefit is greater brightness and better color accuracy. For even better performance, try the Navitar BriteLight lamp module, which dramatically improves color fidelity and brightness. Without an improved lamp module, Kodak Carousel and Ektagraphic slide projectors project green light, not white light. To see just how good your transparencies are, fit a good lens and lamp module to your old projector.

Clive Bubley , July 05, 1997; 06:52 P.M.

Here in the UK most professional AV photographers/producers use Kodak's Carousel or Ektapro projectors or the excellent French Simdas rather than the 'European straight slide tray' types. I think this applies in many other European countries. In fact my own Carousel projectors are often taken to different parts of Europe by my clients. To echo Glen's comments, we always glass mount our slides, usually in pin registered mounts, for positional accuracy.

Clive Bubley London

Glen Johnson , December 26, 1997; 08:19 A.M.

I recently had a chance to check out a Navitar 70-125 f/2.8 slide projector lens, and found it to be of excellent quality. In direct comparison to my own 70-120 f/2.8 Schneider Vario-Prolux, I would have to say that distortion and resolution seem similar, but the Navitar is definitely built to a higher standard. It is very rugged.

S Lissner , January 27, 1998; 11:06 P.M.

High-quality lenses for slide projectors not only offer higher resolution than Kodak's all-plastic, inexpensive lenses, but greater brightness, too. Murky picture areas turn into decipherable shadow areas with color and detail.

A major difference among the excellent lenses offered by Schneider, ISCO, Navitar, Buhl and the Tamron's discontinued line is color temperature. Some models are noticeably warmer (yellower) or cooler (bluer) than others.

So, it's best to evaluate similar lenses from different makers to see how your slides look.

In any case, the non-Kodak lenses, as well as Kodak's premium line of imported German lenses, will let you see just how good your slides are. It's hard to realize just how mediocre the standard Kodak lenses are.

Scott Knudsen , November 08, 1998; 09:13 P.M.

I recieved a Ziess-Ikon slide projector for a gift many years ago and it has never worked right (can't seem to pick up slides properly and jams) and I have paid more money sending it in for repairs than it was worth and it still dosen't work right!

John Lind , December 15, 1998; 02:51 A.M.

I will echo others' comments about using a white matte screen. Having recently switched over from my dad's old glass bead screen, it makes a dramatic improvement in image sharpness. Be ready to turn the lights down; there is a reduction in brightness. I would rather trade that, though, for the increase in sharpness. Critiquing my work is much easier. After switching screens I bought a standard Kodak 102-152 f/3.5 CF zoom to project onto the 50" matte screen from a distance of about 16 feet. This lens was somewhat disappointing compared to the standard Kodak 102mm f/2.8 CF fixed lens at about 12 feet. Focusing was more difficult to maintain between slides (I have to do this manually) and the image was not quite as bright due to the half-stop loss combined with the longer projector-to-screen distance. Detail was difficult to see in some of the darker shadows. I bought the Schneider Prolux 75-120mm f/2.8 zoom from B&H and its price (new) is not much more than the Kodak 102-152mm f/3.5 zoom cost. While the max focal length of 120mm is barely enough for the distance I use, the Schneider Prolux is a better lens. Refocusing between slides is now rare; the additional half-stop makes a modest, but noticeable, improvement on shadow detail; images appear to be slightly sharper; and its barrel construction seems to have greater precision. I wish I had known about the Schneider Prolux zoom when I bought the Kodak zoom. For home use, the Schneider Prolux is an excellent, inexpensive lens, and better than the Kodak. It does have a plastic barrel which may not make it suitable for institutional use if it's going to take a beating from harsh treatment. The Navitar zoom which has a metal barrel, but is much more expensive, might survive institutional abuse better.

David May , December 15, 1998; 09:52 P.M.

After upgrading from old zooms to professional and near professional Canon lenses, my light-box images were often terrific technically, but looked less good at 66 x 44 inches with my old Rollei slide projector, or with an old Kodak mid- range Carousel system. In France I read projector and projector lens reviews and rankings in the magazine "Chasseur d'Images". The best projector-lens system was said to be the Leica 600 projector with a Leica Super Colorplan lens. At B&H I purchased a Leica P300 projector(600 not available) and the lens. A factor in my decision was that I already had very many European slide trays.

Despite the Super Colorplan being a flat plane lens, in general I have obtained terrific screen images using plastic or paper slide mounts. Even 3 feet from the screen, the images still appear full of detail. With this projector, slides seem to pop only occasionally and belatedly.

None the less, for the best results, I was planning to mount hundreds of my slides in glass -- until I purchased both some Wess and some Gepe glass slide mounts. Disappointingly, out of the box both types are covered with dust on all surfaces, and the work to clean them and prevent dust from reappearing appears collossal. So my viewers may live with an occasional pop!

I'd like also to comment concerning screen surfaces: My surface is neither of those discussed in Philip's article. It is an aluminized textured vinyl, with a gain of about 2.2 for center veiwing (that is, 2.2 times as bright as matte vinyl). It gives an image almost as detailed and side-viewable as the matte. It has much better resolution than the glass beads, but does need to be under tension. Glass beads and matte do not. For projection to 44" x 66", using my old projection system, the image on a matte screen would have been too dark.

This screen now works well in the day, but with my new, very bright projection system, in darkness the image has become too bright. (My inexpensive solution has been to "stop down" the lens at night by inserting in the lens housing a rubber washer.) Matte would now do for me. But if you have a less bright projector, and also wish to use a large screen, carefully consider almuinized vinyl. At least one major manufacturer will provide detailed specs and samples of all screen materials.

Paul Forlenza , January 29, 1999; 09:38 P.M.

I just upgraded from 2 Kodak projections and a Vivitar Disolve unit to the Rollei 600P - which is a twin projector and integrated disolve unit. Programming the disolve manually looks to be a giant pain. However, there is the capability to do the programing on a PC and then download. Anybody know where I get the software and cable from? Rollei in NJ has not replied to my inqury. Any tips to pass on if you have used this system before? thanks

Ian Binnie , February 24, 1999; 12:24 P.M.

I'm not sure that I agree with Philip Greenspun on two points: that a Kodak carousel projector is the only North American alternative, and that the projector body isn't nearly as important as the lens. After doing a fair bit of research (which started with this site, thank you), I recently purchased a Leica P600 and Super-ColorPlan 90/2.5 through a local dealer here in Toronto. (The price was actually slightly better here than at the NY mail-order houses.) It's early days still, but I think that this was a very sound choice. The projection quality is excellent. Absolutely excellent. Part of this can be accounted for by the top-end lens, but the rest seems due to the condensor and mechanical systems. I'm no optical or mechanical engineer, but the build quality does appear to be much higher than on the comparable Ektagraphic (particularly the condensor assembly). The autofocus mechanism is also much more accurate and quieter. The downside is straight trays and saleability. I don't care much about the trays, since the projector is really only for my own use. (I can't remember ever being invited to bring a Kodak carousel to someone else's house!) The saleability doesn't worry me either, since I intend to keep the unit until it dies of old age. (It is a consideration, however, since the Toronto dealer indicated that he sold a relatively small number of units per year.) For other people, these last two points may be of greater concern.

Siegfried Boes , February 25, 1999; 09:49 A.M.

I guess the Rollei projector is the same as one which is sold as MSC 300P in Europe. if so then the link:


could help. I came across this information when I made my decision between the Rollei and the latter mentioned Leitz P600 (which I ordered at the end).

John Keistler , April 06, 1999; 09:12 P.M.

I have used both Carousel and straight trays for a number of years. I use Leitz at home with straight trays because often I don't project a lot of slides, plus it's much sharper and brighter than any Kodak. Now that Leica has re-introduced a Carousel-type projector I plan to look seriously at it, as the trays can be used for public work and at home.

Alexander Klaiber , June 19, 1999; 08:45 P.M.

I would like to add to Phil's comments on projection screens: I recently bought a Da-Lite screen and, at the insistence of the dealer, tried one of the textured, silver-coated ones. In short, my experience is that, as Phil suggests, this type really does not offer the resolution you want if you shoot with anything but 400-speed or faster film; my nice Velvia slides just did not look right: vaguely fuzzy and it even seemed like the color was off in the whites. The extra brightness really was not worth the loss in image quality; I'd rather make sure the room is sufficiently dark. I exchanged the screen for a good old-fashioned matte one, and I am much happier with the results.

Cuong Tran , August 15, 1999; 02:44 P.M.

I bought the Leica P2002, currently a close-out at greater than 50% discount, plus the super colorplan 90f2.5 and the bright light kit. The projected image on DaLite matte screen is stunning. The image is at least as good as that viewed with Fuji loupe. Very minimal pop with cardboard mounts. The details, brightness, contrast, and color accuray is just eye-opening. Can't sing enough praises about this projector!!!!

Murray Lord , August 16, 1999; 08:03 P.M.

I am unhappy with one aspect of my projector and would be interested in receiving feedback on whether this is a problem inherent in all projectors, and what (if anything) people do to overcome it.

I own a Leica P150 projector. When I bought it it just had the standard cheap Hektor lens worth about $30. I was unhappy with the quality, and decided to get a Colorplan C2 lens. Whilst the quality improved I still have one major problem (which I had also noticed on the previous lens); I am as often as not unable to get the entire image in focus at once. If I focus on the centre the edges will be out of focus, and vice versa. Obviously if the entire picture can be brought into focus at different times the ultimate cause is that the slides are not mounted perfectly flat. However it seems to me that the projector's tolerance for slides that are not perfectly flat is extremely poor; perhaps worse than a cheap projector's.

I have had the projector examined by the very helpful agent I bought it from, who looked at it and agreed with me that certain slides just could not be focussed properly. We agree that it is inherent in the design of the projector and is not because of any fault of my projector in particular.

As a result of this I tested a Colorplan P2 CF lens (designed for "popped" slides), which had a far better ability to focus slides that were not mounted perfectly flat. However the trade off was that a "normal" (ie flat) slide could not be brought into focus properly. Hence unless I am prepared to buy both lenses and switch them on a slide by slide basis it does not offer any help.

I realise that mounting the slides in glass would help. I am an amateur photographer and I do not want to have to spend the sort of time (and money) that would be involved in doing that. I don't think it's unrealistic to expect to be able to project slides in the state they come back from being developed!

It seems to me that if I could get, say, an f 4 lens (and a brighter globe to compensate, which apparently you can't use in a P 150 anyway) then this problem could be solved because of the greater depth of focus that lens would have. Yet no one seems to produce such a lens as far as I can tell. Why is this? Am I the only person in the world that has this problem with projecting?

Turbo Mecca , August 28, 1999; 03:18 P.M.

Murray: I use a Leica P300 with the same lens as you (Colorplan) and I experience the same problem. But the pictures seems to be sharp as long as it not "pops". I don't know if the cooling is better on the P300 but it takes at least 6-8 sec before the slide pops, so I feel that I get the time needed to look at each slide. I was a bit worried about not getting the CF version of this lens, but later when I read about it at the Leica homepage they said that the CF only was for carboard unglassed slides. And I use plastic unglassed frames. I don't know whether there is a difference between carboard/plastic frames. If it's not too expensive for you, maybe you could check if the P300 (or higher in Leica's range)is better in this respect.

Michael Meyer , October 07, 1999; 10:59 A.M.

what about big big MF slides? i am possibly planning on shooting a trip to south africa totally 6x9 (with a fuji). i have fallen in love with the big slides and would like to do a slide show of the trip. any suggesstions?

Wayne Crider , November 25, 1999; 10:07 P.M.

For a nice small customer presentation projector or slide viewer, check out the Minolta Mini 35 if you can find one.. Only found used, it's small and portable. Manual only. Mine has a 25/75mm lens that you screw out for focus. It's definetly cool.

John Tureli , January 09, 2000; 01:26 P.M.

Well many of you forgot to mention that the economy Leica projectors and Kodak are in a different class. The basic Leica is like 150W, and the Kodaks have 300 or 400W lamp power. This is like a full f stop in the lens. Mind you there are millions of slide projectors that are not being used in American households. If you have the chance, you may pick up a much better Kodak slide projector than a new Braun or Leica basic model for a song, around $1-10. Heck, even the bulbs cost more than that! BTW, there are outfits on the web that can supply any type of projector bulb so do not think you need a new projector because you cannot find its lamp locally!

I also think that somehow Kodak cheapened the lens quality in the slide projectors. If you can find, try a late 70s to mid 80s slide projector lens from Kodak. I especially like the 102mm f2.8 Curved Field (CF) Ektanar. Another favorite lens is by Raynox, 102mm f2.8 Flat Field (FF). THe latter looks suspiciously like the quality Kodak lenses and can be bought cheap new or used for a song.

If you only want a small slide projector but do not mind 150W lamp or Carousel tray compatibiliry. I advise you the Bell&Howell (B&H) cube slide pojectors. These have decent quality standard and zoom lenses, their tray system is very compact and can be used easily. The best part is that you can get a 16 slide cube package for $50 new from Porters, and perhaps $1 from a garage sale. I think it is hard to beat the B&H projectors from a value standpoint.

Carousel trays are elegant but simply take up too much space. I think a stack loader for Kodak projectors could be used similar to the B&H or Leica straight trays but editing and use is not as practical as a B&H.

I think that investing money in the screen is probably a better idea than jumping in to get a new slide projector. Especially because the recommended Leica cheapie projector suspiciously looks like a Reflekta, Kinderman or Vivitar slide projector definetely not in the league of the well trusted and reliable Kodak or Ektagraphic lines. If you guys are serious on performance, you should also look at the European Kodak slide projectors.

Piotr Mikolajczyk , January 14, 2000; 10:55 A.M.

Re Leica projectors and lenses above:

Indeed, Leica Pradovit P-300 has an excellent cooling system.This seems to be a general trait of Leica projectors (maybe except the P150 with its 150W bulb, all other models have 250W bulbs) as some of my friends who are also happy Leica owners, have the same to say. Indeed, it takes way longer for the slide to "pop" or "buckle" than with any other projector I've tested.

Two, I don't see much difference between cardboard and plastic mounts. I know that "cardboard" appears both on the Leica page and BH catalog. However, when you look at paper Leica catalogs, they're more descriptive in saying what I also observe: the point is whether the slide plane is flat or curved, no matter what the frame material. My slides are all mounted "glass-lessly" in various frames and they are curved. Super Colorplan is a heck of a lens but I find my Colorplan-P2 CF (i.e. curved field) 90/2.5 also VERY satisfying. Yeap, if I suddenly have flat slides they would look worse through my CF but I don't expect it to happen any time soon. And the "simple" Hektor lens is no lemon either (it's Leica, mind you) so I can always use it as a backup.

Good luck using your Leicas, they're great!


George Kronfli , January 24, 2000; 03:19 A.M.

I have tried most projector lenses, including the ones you mentioned, and have found the sharpest and brightest by far was the Leitz Colorplan 90/2.5, not the CF version which kept popping in and out of focus. It also has superb 3D modelling. There is a new Super Colorplan 90/f2.5 lens which is supposed to be even better, but I have not tried it. There is also a Colorplan Pro which I think fits Kodak Carousel projectors. Whether its available in the US is another matter. BR GFK.

Thomas Donn , January 30, 2000; 01:06 A.M.

What would be a recommended slide projector to start with? Currently I am borrowing a Kodak Ektagraphic III AMT from the library, but find it noisy and werid to use. I am interested in the Kodak Ektapro series, but only the higher end models are available in the US, which have multimedia/dissolve features which I won't need. I am tempted by the price of the Carousel 4200, but it looks cheap and has the same werid chasis as the ektagraphics. I am also considering the Leica P150, since its price in my aera is about the same as the 4200, and includes a lens ($240). Has anyone encountered problems with the two projectors?

Does anyone know if Kodak and Leica make the projectors themselves or buy the components from other manufacturers? I noticed the body shape, remote and certain specifications for the Ektapro line and the Leica RTs/m projectors are amazingly similar...



Vadim Makarov , July 12, 2001; 11:50 A.M.

Scanned from manual for Leica Pradovit series projector

This table helps you determine how big a screen you need, what projector lens to buy and where to set the projector in your room. See also a bigger and more legible scan.

You can expand this table using focal length calculator. Shooting with a camera is no different from slide projection as far as object distance, size and lens focal length go.

Remember that to avoid image distortion and uneven focus, the projector should be set up against the center of the screen, pointed squarely at it. This usually means that the screen is hanging vertically and the projector is at the height of the center of the screen. I'm using a home-made "tabletop" for my tripod to elevate the projector to the required height.

For a projection screen, I simply use a large thick sheet of matte white paper. I think this is about the best screen for home slide projection, and easy to make, too.

Jan Mattsson , July 30, 2001; 12:40 P.M.

As a reference for people who have the same problem as Murray: there are projection lenses that can be stopped down so a popped slide can be in focus. Braun, Kindermann and Rollei all make them.

Percy Wegmann , August 25, 2001; 05:50 P.M.

Note from an inexperienced slide photographer: I viewed my first two rolls of slide film on a Kodak Ektagraphic projector at work. The machine had a 100-150 mm lens (or somewhere thereabouts) and the screen was one of those hanging roll-down screens. I was, overall, disappointed by the brightness and sharpness of the projected images. I just bought a Vivitar 5000AF slide projector (w/ 85 mm lens) and an Apollo Tripod Screen. This combination produces far clearer and brighter images from the same slides, and in all cost me about $350 (new), less than the Kodak projector would have cost without lens! Ritz (a.k.a Kits and apparently now Wolf's) Camera sells the projectors for $170, which is competitive with the cheapest online retailers, and projection screens of usable quality are available at the major office supply chains.

Dean Goldsworthy , October 22, 2001; 10:29 A.M.

Here's an update on what's available for projector lenses that will fit Kodak carousel-type projectors:

I'm fairly certain that Schneider doesn't make the 90mm f/2.5 CF lens anymore. I found no sign of it on their website or for sale new at B&H, Adorama, or Camera World. This is the lens Philip G. recommends in his intro to this section. However, the Schneider Vario-Prolux 70-120 f/2.8 is still available, about $140 (mailorder price).

Also, I've verified with Leica that their PRO series projector lenses will fit Kodak carousel-type projectors. This series comprises 11 lenses including the Colorplan Pro 90mm f/2.5, the Super-Colorplan Pro 90mm f/2.5, and the Vario-Elmarit Pro 70-120mm f/2.8. I believe the Super-Colorplan Pro goes for about $200 (mailorder) and, judging by the high praise it has received in this list of comments and based on Leica's reputation, would make a good substitute for the Schneider 90mm Phil G. recommended. The only indication on Leica's website that this lens will fit Kodak projectors is the statement that PRO series lenses have a standard 52.5mm diameter and "a grooved tube that fits all current projectors for round slide trays".

Thomas Hundt , November 27, 2001; 05:17 P.M.

Go Digital?

Seems to me that, with all the debate about archiving digitally vs. in the wine cellar, and Kodachrome vs. everything else, and fading of slides due to projection, and carousel vs. Euro tray, and glass mounts vs. going naked (see Forum articles, for example), plus the integration of one's analog and digital image libraries for projection, the real answer to all these problems is this: Scan everything and get a digital projector. (As a bonus, you can offer your friends a movie after the slide show. :-)

Kevin Qu , July 02, 2002; 11:14 P.M.

Given the sky high price of those digital projectors, not to mention their poor resolution, it is gonna be a while for most of us to go digital projection. Just my 2 cents.

martin wright , September 18, 2002; 10:13 P.M.

i just bought a brandnew kinderman diafocus 1500e that takes three types of slide tray automatically it came whith a f2.8 100mm lens a bit plasticy 150 watt bulb and only a wired remote that i extended to 9 meters it has auto focus that seems to work well i do cine work so i own a 6 foot silver screen with black borders a eight foot white screen and a 16 foot cinema scope screen called a side winder i filled up the middle of me scope screen whith it was fine filled it right up with picture to give a 16foot croped image they were ok but it had to be verry dark in the room becouse the bulb was only 150 watt the silver screen was verry bright i made my own tape auto changer hooked up to the wire remote so i can record a pice of dialog on a cassett record a puls on the other track so when the dialog finishes the projector hears a bleep the ordience dose not hear the bleep of corse and the slide projector works verry well whith the setup i think that this projector was a verry good buy from jessops for a mere 89 pounds english currency the focusing detail seems to be pin sharp a good all round projector from kinderman germany. can any one tell me what they thinbk of kinderman id realy like to know

Detlev Horst , December 19, 2002; 08:07 A.M.

It should be mentioned the Leica Pro RT series projectors are nearly identical to Kodak Ektapros - build by Leica with Kodak's permission, I assume. I can't say to what extent the Leicas are modified. The 2,5/90 mm lens can be obtained by a group of producers, e.g. Docter, Leica, Enna, Isco ... - it's always the same lens but with different labels. Todays Leica P 600 was sold five years ago as Zeiss Ikon Royal AF. I think both Leica and Rollei projectors are manufactured at the same facility at Braunschweig, Germany.

Chris Mearns , December 19, 2002; 01:15 P.M.

digital projection of slides. Is it credible that within 2 or three years, digital will offer comparable quality to a top end Leica projector? should I not try to find a used P2002 for near £500? Hate to make a lifetime investment if something up ahead looks better. I'll certainly still be shooting Provia or whatever.

Fazal Majid , December 24, 2002; 05:07 A.M.

One thing to keep in mind: not all slide films react gracefully to projection. Kodachrome fades alarmingly fast when projected intensively, whereas it is the longest lasting slide film when conserved in the dark.

Vajirune Chandrangam , January 20, 2003; 06:09 A.M.

I think it will take quite some time for digital projector to match the traditional projector's image quality, in terms of true color.

We have been using a few brands of hi-end digital projectors but have never been successful in calibrating it to project image color to match such color on a notebook's screen or a PC's.

I don't know what it is called technically, but there is a lot of color deviation. I think, as of present, the light bulb still gives best true color quality.

Charles Clemens , March 07, 2003; 11:27 P.M.

I have a Rollei P66s projector and I love it; but it had a bad autofocus problem that must be common to many if not all P66's.
I found the solution, and wish to share it with all. I made a small web page about it at:

John Svoboda , January 02, 2004; 11:50 A.M.

I am a home theater installer and video calibrator, as well as a fan of slide projection, and I have a couple of comments on digital projection versus slides. The best resolution you can get as of this date and under $10,000 is in the range of 1.5 megapixels, with an LCOS projector that has excellent fill (no pixelization), but poor contrast. Over $10k (maybe over $50k) you can run a home theater PC scaling to maybe 4 MP with a 9" liquid-cooled CRT projector (actually an analog set) with great contrast. Even that will not equal my Elmo with Navitar lens (total cost used, xlnt condition: $200). The CRT projectors are high-maintenance and going the way of the Dodo. If you do go the digital route, regardless of what projector you use, get it calibrated by a trained technician (See Imaging Science Foundation website). It can vastly improve the performance, particularly color accuracy, of most projectors (adjusting controls in the service menu). Also, virtually all digital projector bulbs push blue badly. My interest in photography has had a nice carryover in that I now use a color correction filter in most of my installs- better colors and contrast becuase the projector no longer fights to compensate for the skewed spectrum of the lamp.

Manfred Mornhinweg , April 22, 2004; 11:21 A.M.

Fifteen years ago, when I was on a pretty tight budget, I purchased my first slide projector. I went to a good store, taking a few good slides with me, and asked them to show me all the affordable projectors they had. I put the slides into each, and a while later left the store with a Liesegang projector. All plastic, with autofocus, 150 Watt lamp, straight trays, cable remote, while the picture quality was better than that of similarly priced Kodak and Kindermann models. Anyway I didn't want a Kodak, because of the caroussel trays which waste so much space.

Of course, the quality was not really good, but I couldn't afford anything better back than.

Now, with a somewhat better budget, I was looking to improve my projection quality. The projector was holding up well, 150 Watt is enough for the rather small size I typically project my slides, so I decided to try just a good lens on the old projector. I went the full way and bought the one that gets the best reviews: The Leica Super Colorplan. It has the same mounting diameter as the Liesegang lens, even if the focusing thread is different, but it can be forced into compatibility... :-)

The results are excellent! The original lens could never reproduce all the detail on screen which could be seen with a loupe on the slide. The new lens can do that easily, and I would dare to say that I see more on screen than under the loupe! The contrast improved very much, too! The original lens could never reach a well-defined focus point - it was equally blurry over some adjustment range. The Leica reaches a distinct point of sharpness.

In short, what I would like to stress is what you all know anyway, but some people tend to forget: That the lens makes the image, while the rest of the projector just has to hold, illuminate and cool the slide, a task that even cheap projectors usually do quite well.

I do have problems with warping slides. Not just with popping slides, but more so with slides that are slightly warped in their plastic mounts even when cold. Since I don't want to undertake the task of re-mounting my 12,000 slides in glass, I guess I will have to live with that. I just dream of a projector that passes a parallel collimated light beam through the slides, rather than the converging one used by all common projectors. As I understand it, that could make the slide position uncritical, and thus eliminate warping problems, but the optics required would be rather expensive! You would need high-quality image-forming lenses larger than the slide diagonal...

So, let's keep dreaming, but in the meantime let's enjoy those slide shows too! This is a field where the "digital competition" is still very far behind (their best resolution is still worse than that of the worst spot of a warped slide on screen!), and this is my most important reason to keep shooting film!

Bryan Weng , August 25, 2005; 12:07 P.M.

After viewing the comments, I have to say Kodak made a bad decision by not providing a good lens and bright lamp or providing a cheap/bad lens when selling its projectors. Try using Navitar/Buhl lens and EXW lamp, you will know what I mean.

Mandy Sampson , December 07, 2008; 11:32 A.M.

Bryan, thanks for the advice on the Buhl lens and EXW lamp. I’ve tried that combination and it works great. I’m actually in the market to find a new projector for my Vancouver photography studio. Does anyone know what’s coming out in 2009 that’s worth getting? Thanks, Mandy

Bill Riggins , April 10, 2009; 02:16 P.M.

Happened across this thread today folks. If anyone still needs slide items we are the largest supplier left in the USA & usually have the best prices on projectors and supplies. With most projector models, almost all of the lenses discussed above (over one thousand slide lenses in stock), Extra Bright Light Modules (Kodak and Navitar), wireless remotes, lamps, etc we have what is needed to replace your unit or improve brightness/picture quality. Just click my link here on Photo.net & I'll send along my contact info or answer most any slide related inquiry. Thanks! Bill

Stefan Lindgren , June 11, 2009; 05:03 A.M.

I just made my own little review and my conclusion is that I will not revert back to slide projection again, digital is clearly now and the future. Digital projectors has more pros than cons than it's analog counterpart in fact the price might be the only issue that I found relevant but even this aren't really true in all cases as a digital projector may replace a setup with 2-4 Kodak carousel projectors! My review and head to head comparable test to a Leica slide projector cn be found here: Panasonic PT-AE3000 vs Leica P150

Xavian-Anderson Macpherson , February 07, 2010; 11:15 P.M.

Would someone please point me to where I can find the focal lengths for DLP lenses? I just purchased a Minolta DLP lens that I want to use for photographic purposes. And while I don't actually need to know the focal length, it would help with estimating what my maximum lens speed is and how much distance there will be between the back of the lens and the image plane (not the screen).

Xavian-Anderson Macpherson


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