The variety and versatility of iPhone applications is not a new story. To paraphrase Apple itself, “There’s an app for everything.” I didn’t understand just how true that was until a colleague referred me to ProjectorCalc from D!HV Lighting.

For some reason, I never expected an app to target projection design so directly, but ProjectorCalc is spot on. The app allows you to set all the characteristics of the hypothetical projector: brightness, resolution, aspect ratio, lens, position, even flexibly set the zoom via a slider. It then obviously calculates image size, but ProjectorCalc goes a couple steps further. It estimates the image brightness in Nits (or candelas per square meter), which is much more useful than a projector brightness specification in ANSI lumens. It calculates pixels per inch, so you get a sense of how pixilated your image will be. It even generates a diagram of the image shape to give you an idea of the deformation of the image.

It can’t know everything; there’s no way to set screen color, and projector brightness specifications vary so greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer and over the life of the lamps and unit that the Nits calculation is a rough estimate at best. But there are very few tools more useful in this world for less than $10. A similar application, VideoCalc, is not nearly so well designed or flexible, but performs a number of the same functions, including the brightness calculation.