Whether you are a teacher or a business owner, if visually presentations are an important part of what you do for a living, then a document camera is a tool that you simply must have. A document camera works in conjunction with a projector, allowing you to project an object onto a big screen with ease. They are commonly used in classrooms and board rooms, as they are an easy and effective way to project images from textbooks or projects onto a screen, creating an attractive, clear and easy to see enlarged visual presentation.
A document camera can certainly be a handy tool; however, finding the best one for your needs can be a bit challenging. As you are shopping for a document camera, you will find that there are several options to choose from. While having a lot of options is a good thing, it can also make determining which document camera is the best option for you a bit difficult. To help you on your quest for finding the best document camera, we have assembled this handy buyer’s guide. In it, you will find a wealth of valuable information related to buying a document camera, including the different types of document cameras that are available, the factors that you should take into consideration when purchasing one, the different features these tools can be equipped with and the best brands available. With the information presented in this guide, finding the best document camera for your needs will be a breeze.
Types of Document Cameras
There are three main types of document cameras, which include:
- The portable document camera
- The desktop document camera
- The ceiling visualizer document camera
Each of these three types of document cameras offers different benefits. To determine which type will best meet your needs, understanding the difference between each type if essential. To better understand these three types of document cameras, please keep on reading.
The Portable Document Camera
The portable document camera is the smallest of the three types. They are also the most lightweight. Because of its compact size and lightweight design, the portable document camera is the easiest to transport and use in different locations. If you are a college professor, for example, and you want to use your document camera to provide a visual presentation in different classrooms, this type is an excellent choice for you. While its size and weight certainly makes the portable document camera convenient, the downside is that they usually aren’t equipped with as many features as desktop and ceiling visualizer models.
The Desktop Document Camera
A desktop document camera works similarly to an overhead projector and is roughly the same size and weight. Because it is larger, this type of document camera often offers more options and is more powerful than portable models; however, because of its larger size and heavier weight, the desktop document camera isn’t as easy to transport as the portable variety.
The Ceiling Visualizer
The ceiling visualizer document camera is the largest of all document cameras. As the name suggests, this type of document camera attaches to a ceiling and allows for larger objects to be displayed. This models does not boast any technical equipment that can restrict the views of the audience and the presenter, making it unobtrusive and the images that are cast easier to see. This type of document camera is ideal for making presentations in large rooms, such as conference rooms or lecture halls. Because they are affixed to the ceiling, these document cameras are stationary and cannot be transported. The ceiling visualizer document camera also tends to be the most expensive of the three types.
These three types of document cameras can either be analog or digital. Here’s a look at the difference between these two types:
- Analog document cameras – Analog document cameras produce NTSC video images. These images are transmitted in a manner that is similar to the signals that are emitted from a standard VCR.
- Digital document cameras – A digital document camera produces computer compatible signals. This type of document camera is usually more expensive than an analog version; however, they provide higher quality images and the offer more flexibility.
Factors to Consider then Choosing a Document Camera
You want to make sure that you choose the best document camera for your specific needs. In order to do that, there are a number of factors that you should take into consideration before you purchase one. These factors include the resolution, the color reproduction and the lighting that this type of visual presenter offers, among other things. By taking the following factors into consideration, you will be able to choose the best document camera for your specific needs. To learn more about these factors, please keep on reading.
The resolution that a document camera offers refers to the number of pixels that it displays. These pixels usually range from 800 x 600 to 1024 x 768. The higher the resolution, the better quality the image the document camera will produce. It should also be noted that digital document cameras usually offer a better resolution than analog document cameras. Keep this in mind when shopping for a document camera, as you want to make sure that you choose one that will create the clearest images possible.
The Color Reproduction
The color reproduction that a document camera offers is another important factor to take into consideration when choosing the best one to suit your needs. Generally, the majority of document cameras offer decent color reproduction qualities; however, if the reproduction of the colors that the document camera creates is highly important for your presentation purposes, then you really are going to want to determine how effective the color reproduction is.
The lighting that the document camera offers is another factor that you are going to want to take into consideration, as it will directly impact the images that it projects. The majority of document cameras boast built in fluorescent lighting; however, some smaller portable document cameras do not. For that reason, it is important to determine if the document camera you are considering purchasing has enough external lighting available.
If zooming in during your presentations is important for you, then you are going to want to consider the document camera’s zoom capabilities. The zoom capabilities allow you to, as you have probably assumed from the name of this function, allow you to zoom in on items in your presentations. The better the zoom capabilities, the better the document camera will be at enlarging your images.
Depth of Field
If you are planning to use your document camera to display three dimensional objects, than the depth of field is another important factor to consider. The better the depth of field, the better your document camera will be at being able to focus on objects of varying heights and varying surfaces.
Everyone has a budget, so it’s important to factor in the price of the document camera when deciding which one to choose. Generally, the smaller and the less features document camera offers, the less expensive it will be, while larger document cameras that boast more features are usually the most expensive. Make sure you know how much you want to spend on the document camera before you start shopping so that you can be mindful of the amount you spend.
If you are going to be using your document camera in different locations, you want to make sure you purchase one that is lightweight and easily to transport. As the name suggests, portable document cameras are the easiest to transport. Desktop document cameras are larger and not as easy to transport than portable document cameras; however, they can still be transported. Ceiling mounted document cameras are stationary and cannot be transported.
Document Camera Features
Document cameras can offer a variety of features. These features are intended to make the document camera easier to use and improve its functionality. However, as noted above, the more features that a document camera boasts, the more expensive it will be. To determine whether or not you need these features and if it is worth spending the extra money, it is important to understand the intended purposes of these features.
Here is a look at some of the most popular features that document cameras boast.
A Built In Microphone
Some document cameras features built in microphones. If you plan on making presentations that will include audio along with video, then this is a feature that you will find very hand. Simply press a button and you will be able to record your audio so that it can be played while the camera projects its images.
If you wish to use your document camera to create an interactive presentation, look for one that offers an interactivity feature. Document cameras that boast this feature easily integrate with other solutions, allowing you to create a connected space and enhances the experience of the presentation.
A microscope adapter is a useful feature, as it makes the document camera an even more versatile tool. With this feature, you will have the ability to display even the tiniest details on a large screen, which can further enhance lessons or presentations.
A document camera that features an annotation tool will allow you to make markings over the pictures or videos that the camera projects. You can use this tool to jot down notes or to highlight important information on the images that you are presenting.
A Remote Control
A document camera that features a remote control will allow you to operate the camera with ease from multiple locations. If you like to move around the space while you are presenting, than this is a feature that you will find particularly beneficial.
Some document cameras feature a reference monitor. This feature allows you to preview live images, which allows you to see exactly what your audience will be seeing displayed on the screen. This feature is particularly helpful when greater accuracy for your presentations is needed.
The Best Document Camera Brands
There are several companies that manufacture document cameras, which is great, because it gives you a lot of options; however, having so many options can make it difficult to determine what manufacturers produce the best quality document cameras. To help you determine which brands will provide you with the best results, we have done some extensive research, including comparing user reviews and testing out several models ourselves. Our assessment has concluded that the following document cameras are the best of the best.
This company produces a range of high quality document cameras that offer various features. They are easy to use and they provide exceptional images.
Lumens is a highly regarded name in the electronics industry, and their document cameras stand up to their reputation. We liked the variety of document cameras that they offer and the range of features that are available.
Elmo document cameras are hailed as some of the best among the teachers and presenters that use them. They offer high quality technologies and excellent features that make their document cameras very easy to use and allow them to provide outstanding projection quality.
HUE is another manufacturer that produces high quality document cameras. This company uses the latest innovations and the most state of the art technologies to create outstanding products that deliver high quality results.