Why a smaller pixel pitch is not always a good thing

18 Dec 2019

When hiring or purchasing an LED display for your event, you’ll need to ask yourself several questions: how many screens will I need? How big should they be? What are we actually going to display on them? One question that is often overlooked, however, is the question of pixel pitch. This is what dictates the clarity of your display based on size and viewing distance and is particularly important for LED video walls. 

But whilst it is an industry-standard term, surprisingly few people actually know what a pixel pitch is and this could prove detrimental unless you’re working with LED display providers who know exactly what you need and why you need it.

So, in order to make sure you never opt for the wrong display and make the right choice, let us start by answering the basics of pixel pitch.

What is pixel pitch?

Sometimes also referred to a ‘dot pitch’, pixel pitch is the method of measuring how dense a collection of pixels in a typical LED display is and it’s calculated by measuring the distance between the centre of one pixel and the centre of the next in millimetres. As for how it’s marked - an LED display with 5mm between pixels would be listed as a P5.

You would obviously expect that the smaller the pixel pitch, the more focused and visible the image would be, but that’s not always necessarily the case, as we’ll discover below.

Higher or lower?

The benefit of a lower pixel pitch is that more tightly packed pixels can create a higher resolution with an image that seems to ‘flow’ together more. For example pixel pitch of P1.6 means the pixels are just over a single millimetre apart and would allow a resolution of up to 2710p (or around a 4K resolution), whereas a pixel pitch of P20 would mean the pixels are 20mm apart, allowing for a resolution of only 137p. This means a less defined and readable image, though it will also mean a less expensive display, as you’re spreading the image over fewer pixels.

Bigger can be better

A smaller pixel pitch will almost always result in a better resolution and it’s up to your LED display suppliers to make sure you’re getting the right pitch for your needs. That being said, it’s also important that you have some idea what you should be looking for.

When selecting the best pitch, it’s important to take into account not only what the display is actually being used for but the size of the display and the required viewing distance.  If the viewing distance is going to be around 30 feet, for example, on a billboard or larger outside display on a building, then a P16 pitch should be perfectly reasonable, though P10 is more common thanks to advances in technology. 

At an outdoor event, such as a trade show or a concert, meanwhile, the viewing distance is likely to be a minimum of around 20 feet so a P10 pitch should suffice in most circumstances. Of course, whilst P10 will be sufficient in the vast majority of situations, it will always depend on the content being displayed. If it is moving content, for example, you can always go with a larger pitch as the eye will naturally ‘fill the image’.

So, whilst a P1.6 would perhaps be a good investment for an indoor trade show where you really wanted the clearest and most striking image, it would be wasted money on a digital outdoor billboard. Even at an exhibition, it might prove prohibitively expensive, so most companies only end up using pitches of this size for situations like displays in receptions where smaller and more detailed text needs to be read and understood.

Ultimately, it’s all about knowing what you need, what you want to show, understanding the lingo and what is possible. Now that you have a decent understanding of the latter all you have to worry about is the former. Because that’s something we can’t help you with!

What we can help you with, however, is everything else, because Spectra has been in operation since 1989 and has spent the last 30 years developing our engineering expertise to offer the right solutions to the right clients. Our specialist engineers will always be on hand to suggest the right pixel pitch for your brand and your situation and help your displays get the message across without compromise. Contact us today to learn more.


Posted in: LED | led display | Comments Closed

Back to Blog