Document cameras are becoming more and more widespread, given their range of uses. They are used in classrooms, courtrooms, laboratories, universities, boardrooms and in broadcasting stations, to name a few. But how to choose a document camera that will work best for you?
Not only are they perfect for any kind of lighting – as there’s no need to dim the lights – but they do away with the need for transparencies. No more messy hands with markers and sheets of transparencies that slide to the floor!
Plus document cameras tend to be much smaller than their ancestors, the overhead projectors.
When looking for yours, be aware that they can go by different names. They are also known as visualizers, visual presenters, digital overheads, and docucams.
How to Choose a Document Camera – 10 Things to Look out For
Here are the top 10 things you need to look out for when deciding what document camera to buy.
1. Is this document camera portable?
If you are someone who needs to use your document camera on the go, check if it’s portable.
Some document cameras are lightweight and easy to carry. They also don’t require you to connect them to other devices, such as whiteboards, laptops or projectors.
Just make sure that you get a model that has an on-board adjustable zoom dial so that no matter what setting you are presented with, you can adjust accordingly.
2. Can it be mounted in the ceiling?
If you need a document camera that is discreet, consider getting one that can be mounted into the ceiling. Not only does a ceiling-mounted document camera provide an unobstructed view of your presentation for your participants, but it is also discreet.
If you are going to be using your document camera in the same room all the time, e.g., in a boardroom or other meeting room, consider getting one that can be mounted in the ceiling.
If you are going to present 3D objects such as engines, or large work surfaces, you will definitely want a document camera that allows for enough space for you to do that.
If you’re going to mount your document camera in the ceiling, make sure it comes with a rotating camera head and multiple output resolutions so that you can get the best angle possible.
3. Can it be connected to a whiteboard or computer?
If you are a teacher or other educator and you have an interactive whiteboard in your setting, consider getting a document camera that you can hook up to your existing setup.
Connecting a document camera to a whiteboard allows for more functionalities during your presentations.
Hooking up your document camera to a computer allows you to make edits and other changes on your computer while the projection is visible to everyone. This connection typically happens over USB.
Check the compatibility of the document camera for various operating systems. If you are using both Macs and PCs, it makes sense to get a document camera that works with both.
4. Does it have a zoom feature?
The zoom feature is what enables you to take anything very small and zoom in on it so that everyone can see. This could be the small print on a business card, a cell under a microscope, or the threads on a screw.
If you are presenting to large groups of people, you will probably want the zoom feature.
5. How high is the resolution?
Most document cameras provide 1080pHD (1920×1080 pixels), so you don’t have to settle for anything less. Some of the cheaper models do have a lower resolution, but those are becoming more and more obsolete.
6. Does it have a remote?
If you are likely to want to walk around as you present, you will want a remote. A remote also allows for more audience participation, as you can pass the remote to a participant. If you are a teacher, a remote enables your students to do their own presenting while you observe.
7. Does it have a scanner?
If you want to take pictures throughout of what you are working on, e.g., an experiment, you will want a scanner included. The pictures can be stored on your computer to be used later or sent to other collaborators, or the participants themselves as a reminder of what was covered in the session.
The pictures can then be used as a starting point for a follow-up session.
Some document cameras have the choice between auto-detection or manual selection of the area that you wish to scan.
8. Does it have the split-screen feature?
Having a split-screen allows you to show two aspects of what you are presenting at once. The left side typically shows the live image from the camera, while the right side shows an image of your choice.
Some document cameras have a split screen feature that allows you to connect two document cameras at the same time. This means you can show two live feeds, one on each side.
9. Does it have the video recording feature?
Some document cameras allow you to record a video of your presentation. Perfect for catching people up who weren’t able to attend the live presentation. This feature is also useful as an added way to document what you have done (e.g., for experiments or assignments that require evidence to be submitted).
10. Does it allow for picture in picture?
This feature shows a smaller picture of you on top of the large image. If you are doing any kind of distance teaching or presenting, your participants can see you talking about what you are presenting while having the document or other image visible at the same time.
Conclusion – How to Choose a Document Camera
There you have it, you now know exactly how to choose a document camera, depending on how you want to use it and what features you require.