What is a Document Camera
Often during a teaching process or at presentations, we face a problem when it is necessary to demonstrate a small object live for a large audience. Today, you can solve this problem by purchasing a special document camera. This digital device is a camcorder on a movable stand, which can demonstrate (scan) different files, documents, 3D-objects, processes, and movements in real time on a monitor, a TV set, an interactive board or a wide screen using a projector. In this review, we'll focus on the best document cameras presented on the market today.
If you need a device exclusively to scan printed paper documents, we recommend you to read our review on the best document scanners, and if you need a device for precise scanning of visiting cards, we'll recommend you to use a business card scanner.
What Features to Compare
When selecting a document camera, take into account the Quality of the Image displayed on a screen. To a large extent this parameter will depend on the installed sensor, specifically its size and resolution. Usually, document camera manufacturers equip their models with CMOS sensors with low power consumption, and rapid reading and light processing. It is essential to pay attention to the sensor size, the larger it is the more light can ingress there, and that will subsequently affect the image quality. A good sensor is considered to be the size of 1/3'' - 1/3.2''. Next, it is necessary to take into account the sensor resolution usually indicated by manufacturers in megapixels. The image resolution (zoom) depends on the number of these pixels. Top models can have an 8-megapixel camera, which can provide an image with a resolution of up to 3264 x 2448 pixels. Of no less importance is the frame rate per 1 second. The higher the frame rate is (30 fps and above), the more correct the video will be, with a smoother move and without blur.
The next important thing that should be considered while purchasing a camera is the Lenses Parameters. It is very important to check the document camera optical zoom. The optical zoom is what allows you to get closer to the object visually, to achieve a high-quality image with high detail of its enlarged portion. The digital zoom can only change a display scale but doesn't add visible details, so this value is of less importance. An important parameter of the lens is its focusing. A good document camera should have a capacity of automatic or manual focusing for prompt adjusting of image clarity and sharpness. Generally, the focus length is marked with a letter F, and it shows the distance from the front principal point to the front focus. The light amount which the lens ingresses can be controlled with a diaphragm. It is also important to note the exposure adjustment that characterizes the light amount per unit of surface and to take into account the white balance and its control: you can adjust colors and image brightness with it. One more important lenses feature is the captured area, that means how big the part of the image the lens is capable of displaying on a screen. The higher this parameter is the larger area the camera lens is capable of capturing and reflecting.
Having determined the lenses and image quality, we can move to such parameters as Interfaces and Compatibility of the document camera with other devices and operating systems. Cameras can be equipped with different connectors that allow them to be connected to a computer, a TV set, a projector, a microscope, an outer lighting and other digital devices. An extensive connectivity implies the presence of USB, HDMI, VGA, and RGB analog outputs, and a slot for an SD memory card. A great advantage is a Wi-Fi connection through which you can transfer information to other compatible mobile devices without cables, and the presence of RJ-45 connector allows connecting to an Internet cable. Having chosen the camera model, please, pay attention to its compatibility. For comfortable work with most computers, the document camera should have a support of Mac OS, Windows, and Chrome OS. For compatibility with mobile devices, the OC Android and iOS support are necessary.
And lastly, we should mention the device Peculiarities. Among the peculiarities, it is worth noting a built-in microphone which allows you to hold web conferences. Also, pay attention to a built-in lighting, which allows you to use the camera without regular light. The 3D module will enable you to view objects with 360° swivel provided you have 3D content. You will probably find it useful to move an image horizontally and vertically as well as the possibility to swivel and fold a stand if you plan to transport the device. Many models are equipped with special control buttons, for example, a "Pause" button to stop an image. Another useful peculiarity for the document cameras is a video recording onto the PC memory which helps discover many other possibilities.
Equilibrium Between Portability and Functionality
When connected to a computer, this model can be used as a three-dimensional printer, a close-up in this case is ensured at a distance of 2.7'' from the objects. Furthermore, the Elmo MO-1 document camera, as compared to its competitors, is equipped with a wide interface for connection with a variety of external devices, including a UBS port to be connected to a computer, an SD Card slot for data reading from an external memory card, an HDMI output for digital image display on various external devices like TV sets, projectors, computers, and an analog RGB output and a D-Sub Input terminal for image transfer. One more important feature we noticed is the Pause button you can use to freeze the image in any position you need. In addition, there is a possibility to swivel the image for its use in a portrait or widescreen format, as well as the capacity to swivel the camera head within 300º which allows you to scan from almost any angle. As for manageability itself, there is a focus adjustment and a white color balance in both manual and automatic modes, and a flicker correction option. In spite of such a great number of features, this model is also perfectly portable. The camera can be folded, and when it is, its size is comparable to a standard envelope. In fact, if you fold a document camera Elma MO-1, it can be easily placed in your jacket pocket, what can't be done with its competitors. Summarizing, we can say that the offered model is a device with perfect equilibrium between portability and functionality.
In 2012 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology an engineer Andreas Velten invented a unique technology which literally allows us to peek around the corner without moving. At some point, the inventor faced a problem of financing his idea but after a while, the development of the unusual laser camera was restarted thanks to the DARPA. Apparently, the amount of investment into the new project was $4.4 millions, which became an impulse for further development. Now a big team in Morgridge Institute for Research with Andreas as the head works on the creation of a camera. At first glance, the idea is simple, but as it turned out in practice its implementation was not so easy. The idea of the camera is that it sends a laser impulse reflected from different surfaces and objects which it encounters on its way. Some photons reach the camera's lens, and then the algorithm starts, which collects sketchy information obtained from these photons in a three-dimensional image of what there is around the corner. It's of interest, that the camera captures the occurring events every 2 picoseconds, so the distance covered by photons can be measured with incredible accuracy. According to the developers, the camera will be adopted by the US Army within a few years.
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Epson Duet 80-Inch Dual Aspect Ratio Projection Screen is a projection display with a diagonal of 80'' and a capacity of image presentation at an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 16:9, it can be also easily installed and has a patented innovative design.
Learning Resources LER4400
Simplicity and Versatility
Luna document camera can be used even by children of different ages and abilities as it is very simple to operate. The first thing we noticed among the main features of the camera is an SEN-switch designed for adaptation of students and school children with special needs. This means that you can use this camera for work with different children and students from the age of 5. Then there is its simplicity in use — it's quite easy to master. All you need to do is connect it to your PC via a USB. It's also important to mention that unlike other competitors' document cameras there is a 3.5mm jack, which helps you to ensure a sound output from the built-in microphone to the external device. We would like to note special 8 liquid-crystal lamps, they ensure high-quality lighting in no light. Moreover, these lamps don't need to be replaced throughout the whole period of their use. And the last advantage of the Luna document camera we would like to mention is a capacity to film from different positions as it has excellent stand flexibility and can be easily rotated. As a conclusion, we can say that this document camera has ultimate versatility with the extent of application in the educational process regardless of students' age. The device is very simple and intuitively intelligible.
Satisfying Every Child's Needs
A great number of children have difficulties studying at the same pace with their coevals. The Learning Resources Company manufactures goods for these children to help them in their studies and develop their talents making them happy about new victories and achievements. Children really have different cognitive abilities, so it's very important to find the right approach to each of them. The Learning Resources company, which manufactures toys and other educative goods, provides its users with a large collection of interactive products, thereby offering you many ways to help "reach out" every child and make an educational process more interesting and fascinating so that children study with greater pleasure. It's worth mentioning that the company has repeatedly been rewarded with recognition and awards, its products help children learn every day at their own pace and steadily contribute to a full disclosure of their inner potential.
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Uvistar Portable Projector - a perfect portable projector with which you can display an image of the scanned document on a wall or large screen. Projector definition is 800x480 and its brightness is 1,200 Lumens.
Ensuring the Best Quality
Ipevo Ziggi-HD Plus (CDVU-06IP) document camera ensures excellent quality of the displayed image despite its low cost. The camera features a CMOS sensor manufactured by Sony with a resolution of 8.0 megapixels, which ensures high image detail and quality in general. The on-screen image has a resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels while the number of frames per second is 15 fps and up to 30 fps with an image projection in full HD format, that ensures high smoothness and image sharpness during swivel or movement of the scanned objects. As for the resolution, it is one of the highest among its competitors. In addition, the twelvefold digital zoom allows working comfortably even with the smallest filmed objects. We couldn't ignore the close-up focus of the 3.94" lens, which ensures a comfortable adjustment of the displayed objects' necessary sharpness. Comparing this model to its competitors we paid attention to one more very important feature: a special stand used for it. You can increase the captured area up to 19.37'' x 14.37'', however, the stand is sold separately. If you want to achieve maximum image quality of your scanned documents, you should definitely consider buying the Ipevo Ziggi-HD Plus (CDVU-06IP) document camera.
The Fastest Auto Focus
Since we have already mentioned the lenses manufactured by Sony, we can't but share the following interesting information with you: Sony presented a new model of a mirrorless camera, which broke all the records of speed autofocusing. The A6300 model has the highest number of autofocus points in the world and in addition, it allows you to film a 4K video. Developers managed to achieve such results thanks to a new 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. In the words of the company representatives, they succeeded in increasing not only the autofocus speed but also photosensitivity using new advanced technologies. In the new model, the information processing occurs in the BIONZ processor. Plus, it is worth noting the importance of the photosensitivity itself, which now covers the range from 100 to 51,200 whereas in the previous model it was only 25,600. As for the autofocus itself, there is a new 4D Focus system, which in Sony's words ensures the autofocusing in just 0.05 seconds. It's worth noting that during autofocusing the new camera is supported at 425 points, which makes it a champion as well.
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X-Acto School Pro Heavy-Duty Electric Sharpener - the electrical device for sharpening all types of pencils, indispensable at the university and at school alike.
Comparing this document camera to its competitors we realized that one of the main distinctions of the Ipevo Ziggi-HD camera is its excellent manageability in terms of scanning parameters and structure positioning alike. First of all we paid attention to the filming modes parameters provided by the manufacturer, which include an automatic and manual focusing, as well as a special exposure switch, which you can use to adjust the exposure according to your own preferences. The second important factor is the Multi-jointed Stand construction itself, which helps you to adjust the position of camera in various tilts, plus there is a swivel head for more comfortable capturing of the desired document. But that's not all. We mentioned separately special IPEVO Presenter software, which allows you to edit the scanned image online including a capacity to project an image from a tablet display. We made sure that the presented document camera is compatible with all the generations of the iPad family including a capacity to work with such popular Apple applications like: PhotoBooth, Google Picasa, Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, Google Talk, and many others. We also noted among the features the availability of a special anti-glare surface, that can be placed under the document for a better effect. Thus IPEVO Ziggi-HD is ideal for image projecting not only from paper documents, but from the tablet screen as well, having in this regard a capacity of complete control over the projection parameters and position of the structure.
As we all know all the modern projectors require an optimal minimum necessary distance between a projector and a wall, that isn't always practical because of the different premises area. LG developers, who as early as in 2015 presented the MiniBeam PF1000U projector, decided to solve this problem. The main feature of this projector is the use of Short Distance Focus technology, so one can project onto a wall a 100-inch image from a distance of just 38 centimeters, while projection of an image with a diagonal of 60'' will require only 11 centimeters. The advantage is that now you don't need to rack your brains ensuring additional minimum space between the projector and the wall. This means that now you can project a wide-screen image in a small space, like for example a small apartment, office etc. This effect has been achieved primarily thanks to the use of high quality mirrors, through which the projector displays an image directly. The projector itself is capable to display an image in Full HD format with the brightness of 1,000 lumens and the claimed longivity of the projector lamp is 30,000 hours.
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Ownta Tablet Holder Stand is an ergonomic stand to comfortably place your gadgets. It is made of aluminum and offers tilt adjustment.
Epson DC-06 Portable
Showing More Objects
In terms of documents image reflection, the Epson DC-06 document camera screen displays a great number of document objects. In fact, this model has a great advantage in the form of the largest filming area as compared to its competitors. The captured area of 10.7''x14.3'' ensures your ability to film large areas of paper and other objects, and you can see each of them clearly. The image parameters control including an automatic focusing and a white balance are really convenient. In addition to an excellently captured area, this camera can boast a Freeze Image feature, that will allow you to freeze the image in the position you need with just one touch. We couldn't but note the availability of the source search feature, which helps set up a connection with the image output source. For an easy image rotation, you can use a swivel feature rotating the image by 90º to select an optimal portrait or landscape view. In conclusion, it's also worthy to note an antitheft device secured by Kensington lock support connected to a device input. Summarizing we can say that the Epson Dc-06 document camera is ideal for use by teachers at school or university.
In Tune With The Time
Epson is renowned for their high-quality technology in the sphere of printing and display devices. But few of us know, that the company decided to enter a completely new market having presented in 2012 Epson Moverio smart glasses based on the Android operating system. Unlike competitors' devices, Epson Moverio was equipped with transparent glass and two micro projectors. The second generation model became a real breakthrough in entertainment, business, medicine, and manufacturing. In addition, you can use the smart glasses for watching movies, playing computer games, and browsing the Internet. In 2014 Epson have brought to the market another electronic device, a GPS sports watch Epson Runsense. These watches were designed for people who like jogging and skiing. The high precision GPS sensor in it enables you to track the route and speed. Interestingly, if the GPS signal is unavailable, a special smart accelerometer takes over its work, which saves and analyzes the athlete's manner of movement, for example, the number of steps, using this information later to restore the missing data about the route and speed.
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Balt Alpha Laptop Cart - a mobile workstation that can be moved from place to place thanks to wheels. It also has adjustable height. The station can be used to place document cameras, projectors, and laptops.
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6. Tracy Hare 3 Unexpected Ways Your Document Camera Can Save Your Sanity, The Art of Education.
7. Lauren Downs 10 Great Ways to Use a Document Camera, Edutopia. June 17, 2015.
8. Using the Document Camera, Baruch College.
9. Bryn Lutes Encouraging Critical Thinking with a Document Camera, The Teaching Center. August 3, 2015.