Projectors are pretty much neck and neck with televisions when it comes to audio and video performance. It’s, however, safe to conclude that TVs have an edge since their displays are built-in, and the audio is also relatively more robust and feature-packed.
The display or presentation size has always been the forte of projectors and would remain so for the foreseeable future. But projector makers are not simply content with being able to cast massive visuals. They are keen to match or even supersede the TV in the picture quality department.
Auto iris is one such step in that direction. The feature has been there in Epson projectors for quite some time — along with it, some nagging concerns about their functionality.
So, what is “auto iris”? How does that lend to your projector viewing experience? And what are the concerns with it? Get the answers to all those questions and more in this article.
- What Does “Auto Iris” Mean on a Projector?
- What Causes Errors in Auto Iris in an Epson Projector?
- How to Fix Auto Iris Errors?
What Does “Auto Iris” Mean on a Projector?
“Auto iris” is a piece of hardware instituted between your Epson projector’s lens and bulb. It opens and shuts itself up based on the projected image’s overall luminance. The mechanism helps modify the amount of light that eventually gets projected. The task is done automatically or without any manual intervention.
For bright visuals, the iris opens larger to let in more light. It closes in or narrows down when working with dark images. In certain color modes, you may turn the auto iris setting on to optimize the image automatically depending on the projected image’s brightness.
Essentially, the auto iris feature helps your Epson projector boost its contrast levels or achieve the right kind according to a scene. This means dark visuals are fittingly dark, and bright scenes are well-lit, irrespective of the ambient light.
When the auto iris element in your projector is not working, the images will look desaturated or washed out, or the contrast ratio goes for a toss. For instance, if your projector has a 1000:1 ratio with auto iris enabled, it will likely decrease to around 700:1 when the auto iris is turned off.
If that drop in contrast ratio reads significant, you bet it is.
Auto Iris Apparatus
Based on the Epson projector model you have, the actual hardware that provides the auto-iris functionality would vary.
Generally, the component looks like a leaf shutter covering a camera. Based on the image’s requirements, the blades move in proper synchronization to decrease or increase the iris’ size.
Some other projectors (Epson or another brand) could use a wheel-like tool instead, with an aperture that shrinks gradually. It rotates to alter the opening’s size, thereby achieving the right contrast-enhancing effect.
Irrespective of the design, the primary working mechanism of the module (as explained above) is the same.
Auto Iris Modes
The auto iris feature in most Epson projectors, particularly in the affordable range, can either be turned on or off. However, in some projectors, the auto iris could come with different modes: High Speed, Normal, and Off.
As the name suggests, the Off mode turns off the feature. “Normal” is the standard iris setting and perhaps ideal for all ambient lighting scenarios. “High Speed”, on the other hand, is a bit aggressive and would shine through in the outdoors.
What Causes Errors in Auto Iris in an Epson Projector?
Your Epson projector could encounter auto-iris errors for a few different reasons. The following are some of the most common causes:
- Improper connection or the device may not have been plugged in correctly. The link could have come loose.
- Accumulation of dust and dirt could have caused the optical block or iris motor to get stuck.
- The auto-iris motor may have worn out, requiring repair or a replacement.
- The module could be defective to begin with — a rare manufacturing oversight.
Though not an error per se, the auto iris component could make some noise while in motion, which could be distracting or annoying and may force users to turn it off.
The iris shifting its position to accommodate the luminance of a given scene could also be a bit obvious at times. Therefore, some people may choose to turn off the feature and resort to manual iris adjustments instead or have the iris setting fixed.
How Quickly or Often Does the Auto Iris Issue Arise?
Though the auto iris issue is often a result of wear, at times, it could be a direct outcome of a defective motor. Therefore, the problem could arise a week or two after initial use or may take months or years to surface.
Anecdotal reports suggest some users encountered the issue for the first time after clocking 15,000 hours.
As far as specific models or series of projectors afflicted with the auto iris failure problem go, it’s across the board and quite random. In other words, a premium Epson projector is as likely to develop an auto iris problem or could be immune to the issue as much as a lower-end model would be.
Turning Off Auto Iris Doesn’t Help
By turning off the auto iris function and rebooting, your Epson projector will usually start in the normal iris mode or auto iris enabled since the system needs to do a proper check-up each time a boot up is done.
And if an auto iris failure is detected during the system-wide scan, your projector won’t turn on.
Suppose you have an Epson projector that hasn’t encountered an auto iris error (yet). If you’ve permanently turned off the feature to avert the issue or not deal with an impaired projector in the first place, the strategy won’t work, unfortunately.
Your Epson projector would either never have the issue or eventually be inflicted with it any time. It’s just a waiting game.
Disabling the auto iris feature during usage would put a slight strain on the hardware. The motor would wear considerably less as it would not constantly switch between dark and bright scenes during projector usage.
That could mean a lower likelihood of the auto-iris failing or the error message not popping up on the screen during bootup.
How to Fix Auto Iris Errors?
Since there could be different causes for an auto iris error, there’s no single solution to the problem. Here are a few remedial measures you shall employ:
Unplug and Reboot
Unplugging and rebooting your Epson projector often solves the issue (albeit temporarily) — like how the action revives every other electronic item, such as smartphones and laptops. You might, however, have to do this multiple times over a period.
For instance, users have reported to unplug and reboot their Epson projectors once a month or two every time the auto iris error surfaces. And they don’t mind that provided it helps set the projector back in order or a trip to the service center is negated.
Kindly note, unplugging and rebooting must be employed only as a stopgap solution. With every instance of disconnecting and restarting the projector, the issue would only worsen ever so slightly, until the restarting action helps no more and the projector pretty much dies.
Not to mention, the frequency of the error message displaying would increase too.
Disassemble and Clean
If that doesn’t work, you may have to dismantle the device and clean up its innards. Take off the projector’s cover and look for dust particles or other impediments blocking physical movement of the motor.
If you live in a busy neighborhood and you use your projector outdoors from time to time, dust buildup is quite likely. Even indoor usage with the windows open (for ventilation) could result in minute particles settling and accumulating inside the device and around the auto iris motor.
Inspect the different gears constituting the motor and ensure none of them has cracks. If there are signs of fissures, no amount of cleaning would resuscitate the auto iris. A replacement would, therefore, be inevitable.
Suppose the cleaning doesn’t help or the projector is brand-new to accumulate any severe amount of dust already and there are no visible signs of damage. In that case, the issue could lie in something more technical that you may not be aware of.
If you are not handy with projectors, it’s advised you get a professional on board. Even if you are good with electronics, it’s still recommended you talk to Epson for expert assistance.
Get the Projector Replaced
The methods mentioned above usually help rectify the auto iris error. But if the issue has been persistent and the projector is under warranty, consider getting the projector replaced. A replacement would arguably be the ideal solution to the problem.
Luckily, Epson has a good return/replacement policy for defective products. So, make use of it while you can. The replacement projector may not be new but would most likely not be plagued with the auto iris issue.
And if the replacement unit has the same problem, get it replaced with a fresh unit (hopefully). There’s no cap on the number of times you could put in a replacement request for a piece of faulty hardware.
Kindly note, Epson also has a 30-day money-back or return policy with no questions asked if you are not happy with the device.
The auto-iris instrument in your Epson projector is a moving component, and like every mechanical part that moves, the auto iris motor is bound to encounter issues.
The good news is that the problem could be fixed, at home or through Epson’s direct intervention.
The goal of this article was to provide you a 360-degree understanding of the component, so you know how it works, what it achieves, and measures to resort to when things break down. Hopefully, the message has been effectively sent across.
Catherine Tramell has been covering technology as a freelance writer for over a decade. She has been writing for Pointer Clicker for over a year, further expanding her expertise as a tech columnist. Catherine likes spending time with her family and friends and her pastimes are reading books and news articles.