Key Considerations in Choosing Document Cameras


Document cameras, also know as video visualizers, visual presenters, or pad cameras, have become an essential part of today’s classroom and boardroom. These real-time image capture devices allow for display of documents and 3-dimensional objects to large audiences. This product category has begun to replace traditional overhead and slide projectors. Although typically connected to video projectors, they may be used with computers and other display devices (i.e. televisions or monitors). Here a few key points to consider when evaluating your need for a document camera:

  • Frame rate—this measurement represents the number of times an image refreshes per second. It is normally stated as fps or frames per second. While not important for viewing still images, the fps is a key consideration for displaying motion. The lower the fps the slower the reaction when an item is moved below the camera. Cameras with 20-to 30 fps provide the most fluid video motion.

  • Resolution—your choice of document camera will determine the quality of the displayed image. It is ideal to match the native resolution of your other display device(s). These cameras are categorized in the same fashion as projectors: XGA, SXGA, etc.

  • Zoom—a document camera may have digital or optical zoom capabilities or a combination of the two. Digital zoom is a less expensive feature since the enlarging of images is done through electronics. Image quality can suffer with a large digital zoom. On the other hand, optical zoom has less image degradation and tends to be more expensive because it involves the physical movement of optics/lenses to create the enlarged image. Still, other cameras have neither form of zoom but utilize a gooseneck arm that can be physically moved closer to objects.  

  • Style/Form—there are three basic forms of document cameras—ceiling mounted, full-sized or portable. Because of their smaller size, ease of connectivity and lower price, portable cameras are ideal for many applications. Full-sized units tend to work well for higher education and the corporate environment. Although not used as frequently as the other two types, the ceiling mounted style camera is invaluable for specialty applications.



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