As you begin to compare document cameras, you'll want to make sure that you are familiar with common components and differences between cameras. You can spend anywhere from $75 to $1000 on document cameras, and you need to make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck without overspending your budget.
Outlined below are some important terms you'll want to be familiar with and some questions you'll want to ask yourself before you purchase. In addition, you'll find a comparison chart of the most popular document cameras that we offer and recommend for the classroom.
Use your document camera for more than just displaying books and documents.
With time-lapse photography on her document camera, one of our customers was able to capture the hatching of chicks that happened during the night while no one was in the classroom!
Do More With A Flex Arm
The flex arm is an attractive feature for users who will be viewing more than just flat pieces of paper with their document camera as it allows you to turn the lens to view an item from any angle. Science and industrial tech teachers will find the flex arm useful to easily view models, organisms, beakers, construction and more from any angle.
Another type of flex arm would be a straight arm camera that pivots and will lock into a fixed position. If the only thing you will be viewing under your camera is documents from straight above, you may prefer the straight arm as it is easy to snap into place with a straight alignment directly above the document.
As you compare document cameras, look for a flex arm that will make your document camera a versatile piece of technology. If it serves multiple purposes in your classroom, you'll get the best bang for your buck!
How Many Lights?
The number of lights on your document camera is an important consideration as you compare document cameras, especially if you have a considerable amount of glare from overhead florescent lights.
If you teach in a room that is well lit at all times, you may never use your lights. So, windows will play a part in the amount of time you spend using the lights on your document camera.
However, sometimes multiple lights can be useful to balance out "hot spots" where overhead lights are creating a glare.
Video recording is a must-have component to get the very most out of your document camera. There are lots of uses for video in the classroom, and a document camera with this functionality only expands its classroom use.
Record poetry readings, oral reading, speech/language activities, news broadcasts, or demonstrations! Use your document camera to Skype with authors, poets, or specialists that are unable to come on site.
A band teacher we met was excited about using his document camera to record the embouchure of students (the position and use of the lips, tongue, and teeth in playing a wind instrument), something he often found difficult to describe to them.
The video above contains several examples of video recording in the classroom.
Software & Controls
It is ideal to have controls on the base of the document camera or somewhere that is easily accessible. This is especially true if you will be standing next to your document camera while you are using it.
If you will be placing something under the camera and then roaming about the room with an interactive whiteboard tablet like the MimioPad, it's another story. You will definitely need to have camera software installed on your computer. This will allow you to roam about the room while you manipulate the camera using the software and tablet.
Some document cameras can be connected directly to a monitor or projector without a computer using an HDMI or VGA cable. This may be favored by large districts who do not want to worry about installing document camera software on a very large number of computers.
However, there is less flexibility if that is the ONLY way a document camera connects, and there is no computer connection. Without the computer connection, there is no ability to control the document camera using a wireless tablet or interactive display software.
Both the HoverCam Nillo 100 and the HoverCam Ultra 8 can be connected directly to a monitor or projector without a computer using an HDMI or VGA cable but can also be used with a computer connected via USB cable to display live HD video. The Lumens DC 192 is another document camera model that can connect directly to a projector or monitor.
Document Camera Comparison Grid
To make it simpler for you to compare document cameras (at least the most popular selling cameras that WE offer), we've compiled a comparison grid detailing numerous technical aspects of each camera.
Use this resource to determine the best-fit document camera for your classroom!