Why UST Lenses?

Written by Lluís Milá, Product Marketing Manager Professional Projectors 

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I was absorbed in a noteworthy project within the auditorium and press room of one of Spain's major banks. While not touted as a groundbreaking venture, it bore the weight of practical challenges that demanded innovative solutions. 

The task at hand was to design a projection system for a sizable 10 x 6 curved screen, a standard requirement for corporate presentations and shareholder meetings. The unique twist lay in the bank's request for keynote speakers to stand and move freely on the stage, right next to the screen. It was a notable ask, and the solution we proposed was pragmatic yet transformative – two Ultra-Short-Throw (UST) lenses paired with 20,000 lm lamp-based projectors. 

Our approach was grounded in addressing a real-world need for flexibility and engagement. Ultra short through lenses were not meant for curved screens! But we presented a concept demo, and six months later, our solution was successfully installed and operational. The key players in this project were the PT-DZ21K projectors and the ET-D75LE90 UST lenses, proving that even in less "groundbreaking" projects, UST lenses could make a substantial impact. 

Picture shows ET-D75LE95

Looking back, it's interesting to witness the journey from that moment to the present. In 2015, our UST lineup consisted of only two types – the ET-DLE030 (introduced in 2013) for 1DLP models and the ET-D75LE90 (2014) for 3DLP. Now, nine years on, our range has expanded to 13 UST references, covering 1DLP, 3DLP and LCD technologies. Notably, among them stand the D75LE95 and DLE035, continuing the legacy of those lenses that initially set the stage for this evolution. As a curiosity it is worth saying that the bank still uses the same original projectors and UST lenses. 

Picture shows ET-DLE035

Getting Closer. The Essence of UST

Unlike their space-demanding counterparts, UST lenses offer expansive images from surprisingly short distances. They basically redefine spatial limitations, offering a transformative advantage in confined settings like museums, auditoriums, and any immersive application. They allow spectators to approach the projection surface without casting shadows, enhancing immersion and engagement. 

The D75LE95, for example, which is a mirror type lens, instead of traditional designs it uses carefully placed mirrors to create a projection that breaks the norms - and even allows you to hide the projector completely. 

Mirrorless UST: Others in the UST family skip the mirrors, opting for a straight design. They have a complex set of lenses – sometimes more than 20. Precision and wide lens shift range are their forte, offering an alternative path to breathtaking projections. 2 excellent examples in our lineup are the ET-DLE020 & ET-C1U100. 

Curved screen during SE Tech Days

Nice Performance of C1U100 in a curved screen during our SE Tech Days



Cutting edge technology

The entire technological effort lies in the search for a flat, uniformly focused, and bright screen, achieved through a complex combination of spherical lenses. However, such innovation requires time and dedication. Unlike standard lenses, the birth of a UST lens is a journey that spans an additional 4 to 6 months plus, which includes rigorous quality testing that ensures uniformity, brightness, heat resistance and even resistance to the inevitable tests of drop. 

The factory's commitment echoes through every stage: planning, design, implementation, and testing. To unlock the full potential of these lenses, meticulous installation, precise adjustments, and a constant pulse on market demands and customer feedback become imperative. 

That’s why I turned to industry experts – Jörg Eibach, Director of Sales at Lang AG, Sylvain Gorgette, Product Manager Projectors at Lang AG, and Ben Mitchell, Pre-Sales Engineer & Consultant at Panasonic Connect – to learn their valuable insights and perspectives: 

Mirror-Based vs. Straight UST Lenses: Installation and Adjustment Perspectives.

Sylvain Gorgette notes that the straight DLE020 lens can be a touch more intricate to adjust due to peripheral focus adjustments. However, once finely tuned, it emerges as a favorite for its focus precision. Ben Mitchell concurs, adding that mirror lenses demand a perfectly flat installation surface but offer the advantage of concealing projectors. The C1U100, in comparison to the DLE020, stands out as slightly superior and more manageable in adjustment. According to Ben, to achieve an optimal & sharp result even in curved surfaces is highly recommended to use the software with the GeoManagerPro tool, and mainly adjust the Geometry and Uniformity functions. 

Jörg Eibach emphasizes that, for customers, the paramount feature in UST lenses is the 'lens shift' rather than weight. A larger lens shift translates to heightened versatility—a crucial factor in optimizing the lens for diverse scenarios. 

Picture shows ET-D3LEU100


Rental Business Priorities, favorite lenses & perception of UST lens cost.

When it comes to prioritizing stock in the rental business, Jörg Eibach faces a challenging decision but leans towards UST lenses, recognizing their space efficiency as a significant asset. In terms of favourite lenses, Ben Mitchell's top picks include the C1U100 and D3LEU100 for their exceptional lens shift capabilities, improved contrast, and unique features. Ben also points out when a ST lens becomes UST: ‘Let’s define ST lenses as those with a TR:0,5 – 0,9:1, and UST as those with TR shorter than 0,5:1’. 

Picture shows ET-D3LEU100 at ISE Entertainment Corner

On the other hand, Jörg & Sylvain’s top picks are the D3LEW200 & D3LW300 respectively. 

Addressing the cost complexity of UST lenses, Jörg Eibach acknowledges their impact on project pricing. However, he underscores that when customers grasp the potential of USTs, they appreciate the value they bring and understand the capabilities of the technology. 

Picture shows ET-D3LEW200

UST in LBE & Immersive experiences

Don’t want to conclude without mentioning the Frameless Project in the UK (2022) and Simon Kentish (CTO at Frameless) words: "Once we saw the Panasonic 3-Chip DLP projectors in action, they were the clear leader in picture quality and reliability." 

Frameless, the UK’s largest digital immersive art experience, were planning 3 years ago their ambitious project to “set art free” at the 30,000 square feet venue in London’s Marble Arch. 

To create the incredible immersive effects, today our lenses are used with 80% of the projectors. These special lenses allow projectors to be hidden in the ceilings, so as not to distract from the immersive illusion, and to project at incredible angles to surround the visitor without casting shadows. 

The content creators have pushed the capabilities of the projectors to their limits and the incredible attributes of the Panasonic projectors and periscope UST lenses has enabled us to create completely immersive experiences across both large (up to 9m high) and challenging spaces,” said Simon. 

All this narrative isn't about monumental breakthroughs; it's about the pragmatic evolution of technology to meet specific needs. It's about the rise of Ultra-Short-Throw lenses and their gradual integration into the fabric of projection solutions, immersive experiences, proving a versatility that never ceases to amaze me. 

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