The 7 Best Document Cameras
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If presentations are a key component of your job — whether in a classroom, training room, boardroom or even a video conferencing suite — you can incorporate exciting new visual technologies using one of these document cameras. These innovative electronic imaging devices can be used to display real three-dimensional objects, pages from a book, artwork, or even people. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best document camera on Amazon.
Interactivity On A Large Scale
This comes in particularly handy if you intend to make a presentation in a dark room.
Interactivity is a popular theme these days. When you think of interactive information, what comes to mind? Social networking services, for example, allow you to share thoughts with friends, fellow colleagues, and anyone else who's interested in you or a group of people sharing a common interest.
The internet is another prime example of high-tech interactivity at work, given that it connects people to one another through information that one would otherwise not be aware of or would have to research in a library alone. Modern mobile phones connect people not only through voice, but also through built-in digital camera technology that offers the ability to video chat and share experiences and snapshots using a small screen. Camera technology doubles as an interactive teaching tool to distribute knowledge and imagery to large audiences in an academic setting. It is this concept that leads us to the unique niche of the document camera.
Also known as a visual presenter or visualizer, a document camera is a real-time image capture device that has a main purpose of displaying an object to a large audience. The document camera is capable of magnifying and projecting images of both two and three-dimensional objects as well as information on overhead transparencies. Whether you're working in a classroom, video conference room, or even a courtroom, the document camera delivers interactive visual technology in a live presentation to a group of people. Most document cameras are mounted on arms and stands in order for their lenses to be positioned over a page in a book, a piece of artwork, or a three-dimensional object of some kind.
The main components of a document camera include the optics, the camera itself, the lighting system, and the motherboard. The optics define the resulting image quality of whatever is being shown to the audience. The unit's optics make use of an iris (or aperture), which regulates the amount of light passing through its lens.
The smaller the aperture, the greater depth and level of detail that can be shown for an object. Just the same, the greater the light intensity on the document camera, the more independent its operation can be from surrounding light sources. This comes in particularly handy if you intend to make a presentation in a dark room. The motherboard has its greatest influence on the produced image quality. As an object increases in size, it requires a higher degree of image resolution, which means that more data must be processed by the document camera at once. That said, the camera's motherboard must be powerful enough to handle that data.
Unlike an overhead projector, the document camera is capable of zooming in on the object it intends to project to an audience, which allows it to behave like a transparency by enlarging small print or text from a book in real-time. The camera can also be mounted on a ceiling to capture a wide angle of view, depending on what it is you're trying to present. Another fundamental difference with this technology is that document cameras are typically less bulky than their projector counterparts. Such projectors take up a lot of room. The document camera is thinner, lightweight, and easier to adjust. Finally, a document camera does not require dimming of the surrounding light conditions in order to make a presentation easy to see.
Document cameras can be connected to a computer via USB cable or to an interactive whiteboard. Either one of these options provides a method of central collaboration. Central collaboration is a fancy way of saying that a group of presenters (or an audience) can be engaged with a single topic at the same time.
A Brief History Of Document Cameras
The earliest attempts at creating document cameras occurred in the 1970s. These first cameras consisted of conventional video cameras placed onto copy stands with additional lighting added so they could operate in a dark room.
As an answer to the decline in popularity of overhead projectors in the late 1980s and as the need for presenting increasingly elaborate documents to large audiences became more important, both WolfVision and the Elmo Company developed the first document cameras at the same time. The cameras were both displayed at the Photokina trade fair in 1988.
The development and rapid advancements of both digital display and computer technology also helped to drive the adoption of the document camera over traditional projector technology throughout the 1990s into today's presentation market.
The Best Camera To Suit Your Needs
Because document cameras are so versatile in nature with respect to their applications, one must take into account how they plan to use a document camera when making a purchase. If you plan on presentations with extremely large objects, then perhaps a ceiling model with a rotating camera head and multiple output resolutions will be a good choice, since you'll need to move it around quite a bit to get the proper angle.
By contrast, if your primary need will be for office or classroom presentations, then investing in a smaller desktop model will probably suffice.
By contrast, if your primary need will be for office or classroom presentations, then investing in a smaller desktop model will probably suffice. An on-board adjustable zoom dial is another key feature to look for, as the clarity of your image will greatly depend on an object's size.
Compatibility and connections are also important factors to consider. If using a mix of both Macs and PCs, one must ensure the document camera is compatible with both the Windows and Apple operating systems and that it has a USB connection. Some of the most modern document cameras also have HDMI ports for hooking up to high-definition display monitors.
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