The Perfect Beginners Projection Mapping Projectors (2014)

The Perfect Beginners Projection Mapping Projectors (2014)
July 7, 2014 Brett Jones

Update: check out our newest post on this topic.

We are often asked, “What projector should I buy to start projection mapping / video mapping.” In reality projection mapping can work with any projector, it just depends how bright you want the image and how much money you have in your pocket.

So, a great way to start is to simply buy a projector, any projector, and start mapping. Here at PMC we’ve used a variety of projectors for our research, and we have some recommendations which we will start sharing weekly.

For beginners just starting out with projection mapping, we recommend a ‘short-throw’ projector. Normally, a projector has to be positioned quite far away from the display surface, about 2 feet away from the object for each 1 foot of display width. With ‘short-throw’ projectors it is possible to position a projector much closer to the display surface.

For instance, with one our recommended projectors, the InFocus IN122ST, the projector can display a 10 ft wide image at only 6 ft away from the object. (Pro tip: check out ProjectorCentral’s projector calculator, which can calculate the image size for any projector distance.)



This short throw is key for working in small workshop style spaces (or maybe your apartment). Also, it is less likely that viewers will cast shadows on your beautiful creation, as there is less distance between the projector and your object. Finally, these projectors tend to be brighter, as they are positioned nice and close to the display.

Here are our top pics for low-price short throw projectors.

1. InFocus IN122ST

f58e58f64ff7cbc4722b04f83c6ecc26_InFocus-IN120ST (1)

If you are just starting out and you are eating Ramen to save up for your first projector. Then the InFocus IN122ST is the perfect projector for you. InFocus just announced this projector at a mind blowing low price of $369. The projector is quite bright at 3000 lumens, so it should work well in moderate ambient light (a few lights on in the room, or limited indirect sunlight coming into the room. The largest downside of this projector is the 800×600 (SVGA) resolution. Its only available at InFocus’ store, so get it there.

2. InFocus IN126STa

If you have slightly more money, go for the IN126STa for $779. It is brighter at 3300 lumens, and 1280×800 resolution. We’ve extensively used the older model InFocus IN126ST, which we’ve found to be a good maximization of price, brightness and resolution.

3. BenQ W1080ST


If you are looking to optimize resolution over brightness, then the BenQ W1080ST might be the right intro projector for you. It is 2000 lumens, and 1920×1080 resolution. It also supports NVidia’s 3D glasses (which you will probably never use because the glasses themselves are quite pricey), and it looks nice. This is actually the projector that I have in my living room for watching media on a 10 ft diagonal screen. Generally, with projection mapping we’ve found to give preference to brightness / contrast over resolution when looking for a projector. However, we’ve used the BenQ for projection mapping, and the resolution really looks nice up close and personal. The BenQ W1080ST will cost you $899 right now.

Next week we’ll cover installation projectors – if you need to permanently install a projection mapping installation.


  • Sytec

    How can is this the “perfect” guide? it only recommends projectors, not how to map!

    • Igor Keel

      The title is, The Perfect Beginners Projection Mapping PROJECTORS.

  • Igor Keel

    I recommend buy a cheap 2k lumens projector for $100 off a local classifieds site, as well as an xbox kinect, and then rent a better projector for an instillation. Make all the content in 16:9.

  • RawRisk

    A Sony proyector with 3200 lumens – 1600×1200 its a good starting point?

  • imsofancier

    Hi, im looking for a cheaper option to the infocus 122st .. could you give any advice on what characteristics define that projector as a good cheap projector so i can use that as a starting point to look for some cheaper projectors.

    thanks a lot in advance

  • brittney

    Where can one rent a projector?

    • Stuart Brown

      There are a lot of Computer Projection Rentals Companies you have to find one local to you

  • Stuart Brown

    this is ok but as a Projectionist i can say that the projector you use is vastly dependent on what your projecting onto and where, I’m sure you guys have seen the large mapping shows all over the internet done with projectors 26k lumens and up, those are large scale and even on the smaller scale to do things like this outside or on a surface that isn’t a screen, you’ll be competing with other light sources so normally the brighter the better just keep this in mind when making your purchases because projectors are very expensive to be buying the wrong one.

    • Goose

      Would like to ask if it’s possible to change the osram 1300 lumens lamp with and LED 9000 lumens with external power supply that costs just 10$ on ebay. My projector is acer.

      • Stuart Brown

        It is probably possible but normally if you change to more lumens there are other components that also need to be replaced I’m not familiar with acer so for this particular switch I couldn’t tell you but if you do go along with your change please be careful. Giving the lamp too much power can cause it to explode and on rare occasion this explosion can take half the projector with it.

  • Elizabeth

    Very interesting! Have you released the article about the projectors’ installation? What do we need to know about installing outdoor projection? How many projectors could we need for larger building? Thanks a lot for your blog!

  • Andy

    I was wondering what the best projectors would be for a
    20×20 ft room. It will be in the room permanently and used specifically for projection mapping. I was looking at the $2500 range.