A Beginners Guide To Nits, Lumens, And Brightness

Are you looking to hire or purchase a new projector, plasma, LCD, or LED Video Wall and it’s been quite a while since you last researched any technology? It’s easy to find yourself out of the loop and more confused than ever.


The amount of new tech terms which seem to have sprung up seemingly overnight has left many people scratching their head.


Luckily, you don’t have to be a ‘tech geek’ or put all your faith in a salesperson while hoping everything works out for the best while making a selection!


This beginners guide to Nits, Lumens, and Brightness will have you feeling like a pro in no time.

What are Nits?

It’s easiest to think of a TV as emitting light directly, in much the same way as the Sun does. Nits are simply the measurement of the level of light (luminance) in a given area which the TV sends to your eyes.


The Nit can be considered a unit of visible-light intensity which is often used to specify the brightness level of an LCD.


One nit is equivalent to one candela per square meter, where the candela is the amount of light which has been emitted by a common tallow candle. To get technical, a Nit is the quantity of radiation which is emitted by 1.667 x 10-6 square meter of a blackbody which is at the melting point of platinum.


As a comparison,  most consumer desktop LCDs have Nits of 200 to 300, the average TV most likely has an output capability of between 100 and 200 Nits, and an HDR TV ranges from 400 to 1,500 Nits.

What Are Lumens?

Lumens are all about lighting.


Lumen is used to describe light output, and about video projectors, it is commonly referred to as ANSI Lumens. Simply put, lumens is how to find out how bright a LED display is. The higher the lumens, the brighter to display!


Technically speaking, a Lumen is the SI unit of luminous flux, which is equal to the amount of light which is emitted per second in a unit solid angle of one steradian from a uniform source of one-candela intensity radiating in all directions.


Confusing right! Well – Lumens is the equivalent of brightness.


For a video projector, the minimum output should be 1000 Lumens for home theatre use. However, most home projectors average between 1500 to 2500 lumens. Multi-purpose video projectors used for business, education etc. may have an output of up to 3000 lumens.

Nits Vs Lumens

The easiest way to explain the difference between Nits and Lumens is that one Nit represents more light than one Lumen does. For everyday use, for example for a video projector, 1 Nit is approximately equal to 3.426 Lumens.


Convert Nits To Lumens
To work out a comparable number of Nits to Lumens, you need to multiply the number of Nits by 3.426.


Convert Lumens To Nits
If you know the number of Lumens, and wish to know the Nits, simply divide the number of Lumens by 3.426.


Some examples are:


Nits                             Lumens

100                              342

200                              685

500                              1713

1000                            3426

2000                            6852

What about Brightness?

So what is the difference between light output and brightness?

For Video projectors and TV’s, both Lumens and Nits are used to measure light output, or luminance.


But how does that relate to brightness?


Brightness can be thought of as how the viewer can detect a difference in luminance, and can also be expressed as a percentage which can be increased or decreased from a subjective reference point. A Video projector adjusts the amount of black level which is visible on the screen to control the brightness being displayed.


Simply put, brightness is a subjective representation of how luminance is perceived, regarding less bright or more bright, and does not generate luminance itself.



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