Choosing the Right Pixel Pitch

Monday, February 18, 2019



A common source of confusion is the distinction between “resolution” and “pixel pitch,” so let’s first define our terms. Most people know resolution from its use in describing TV screens and digital photos. We intuitively understand that “high resolution” means a lot of pixels. However, since TVs and photos tend to come in predictable sizes, people have come to associate high resolution with tightly packed pixels (and therefore a sharp image) but that’s not necessarily the case. A 300x400 pixel photo might look sharp at six inches wide, but blown up to six feet, the same image would look blocky.

The term we use to describe the distance between each pixel is “pixel pitch.” If you’re considering an LED video wall, settling on a pixel pitch is one of your first decisions. Here are some guidelines to help you make that call.

Rule #1: Consider the Viewing Distance

Tightly packed pixels are more expensive. They look fantastic even up close, but you don’t want to invest in quality that will go unnoticed. Human eyes can discern about one millimeter in pitch for every eight feet of viewing distance. From 16 feet away, a two-millimeter pitch delivers the best observable image. Anything tighter than that is overkill.

Rule #2: Consider Your Content—and the Real Estate

You intuitively understand that high-resolution video would be wasted on a low-resolution display. That would mean lost visual information. The resolution of the content and the display should match up. Whether you’re repurposing existing video or developing fresh goods, you will want to know what its resolution is going to be, because that will determine how many points of light you will require from an LED display.

Here’s the thing: once your content resolution is set, your pixel pitch will govern the size of the overall display. With more pixels packed into a super-fine pitch, less wall space is needed. Modules with lower pixel densities will cost less but also take more space (and more modules) to do the same job.

Nowadays, content is reaching ever-larger resolutions. You’ve heard of “4K,” right? (It’s actually a bit of a misnomer. At 3,840 pixels across, the 4K UHD standard is just shy of 4,000.) So here’s an easy-to-follow example. Using D3’s ultra-premium NView 1.6 modules, a 4K display would be roughly 20 feet wide and 11 feet high. Using less densely packed NView 2.0 modules would likely lower your overall cost, but it would also increase the display width by five feet and the height by three feet. Finally, for a comparable visual experience, we would want to apply Rule #1 above: position viewers of a larger display (wider pitch) roughly three feet further back than viewers of a smaller display (tighter pitch).

There are many factors that go into the design of an LED display, but remembering these two basic rules will make it easier for you to decide a logical starting point for your display’s pixel pitch.

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