Comparing two units of brightness can be confusing when they are measured in differing units. Here we look at a common comparison of lumens vs nits, required to correlate between different sources of a screen or display, to understand the difference and relationship between the two.
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A lumen quantifies the amount of visible light emitted from a given light source.
The ANSI Lumen rating is the most common measure of brightness used by projectors, and it’s generally considered to be the most accurate method to compare different projector models.
Lumens are a unit of measurement that directly affect the brightness of your projector or screen. The brighter you need your image to be, the higher its lumen rating should be.
The nit is a unit of measurement that quantifies the luminance of an object or how much visible light an object emits and is being seen.
1 nit is equal to 1 candela per square meter (cd/m2).
1 NIT = 1 cd/m2
The unit of a NIT is derived from the latin word ‘nitere‘, meaning ‘to shine’.
The brightness of a digital display or screen and how it appears to the human eye are often quantified in nits.
Nits are important because they directly affect the perceived brightness of a screen. The higher the nit rating, the brighter your screen will appear.
Lumens or ANSI lumens are used as a measurement of how much light is being projected whereas the Nit unit defines the luminance or brightness of an object.
Both are used to quantify optical output but Lumens are a unit of light created, whereas Nits are a unit of measurement for how much visible light is being seen.
In terms of displays, lumens measure a projector’s output and nits measure the screen’s brightness.
Although Nits and lumens are two different units of measurement, there is a way to convert between the two to assist in a comparison between different sources, such as comparing the brightness of a projector with a TV or display screen.
The ratio for the difference between Nits and Lumens is:
Therefore, 1 Nit is perceived as brighter than 1 Lumen.
Comparing lumens to nits is ultimately a brightness comparison so you can understand which value will be visibly brighter.
For example, when comparing the brightness of a projector to a TV or display:
So in terms of choosing displays, TVs and projectors, the difference between light output and ‘brightness’ or the luminance of a screen, can be calculated and compared.
However, you must remember that perceived brightness is not entirely defined by a value but dependent on other determining factors, such as the size of a projected screen and its distance from the source, the viewing conditions, ambient lighting levels, and most importantly contrast.
Brightness is a subjective measurement of how bright or dark something appears, and although we use it as a description of luminance, ‘brightness’ does not produce luminance, merely how we perceive it.
So when trying to compare the brightness of two light sources, you must consider all relevant factors to ensure an accurate comparison.
The comparison of ANSI Lumens vs Lumens will also help you make better informed brightness decisions.
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