What kind of Document Camera should I use?

A document camera (a.k.a. ‘doc cam’) is a more modern version of an overhead projector. It’s useful for writing or diagramming about a topic, but also for the demonstration of a practice or technique. Although a standard webcam could also be used for this, a webcam may not have the beneficial features of a doc cam such as for mounting, extension, lighting, or zooming. 

NOTE: Although basic doc cams are designed to be connected directly to a projector, you will likely want a doc cam intended for use with a computer (e.g. for recording purposes). 

Whatever doc cam you choose, the following best practices are recommended:

  • Choose a level and stable platform with a presentation area larger than what you actually need (including the free movement of your hands/arms as well as for positioning writing tools, paper, etc. off camera).
  • Use masking tape to mark the base of the doc cam as well as the viewing area captured by the camera – doing so will make setup and use easier for you and more consistent for your audience. 
  • The desired features for a doc cam will depend on your need or intended uses, but below is a list of recommended features and technical capabilities. 

    • Camera light
    • Camera lens protection
    • Sufficient camera controls
    • Adjustable extension settings 
    • Independent power source

    Also, you should ensure that the doc cam:

    • Is tall enough (and extensions are long enough) to encompass the space required for your needs. 
    • Operates independently of proprietary software. 
    • Is compatible with your computer (operating system, operating system version/edition, and available ports). 
    • Includes at least USB port, but preferably USB and HDMI ports (if it only has a VGA port then it can only be connected to a projector, not a computer). 
    • Is capable of rotating/flipping what the camera captures.
  • Pricing will depend on brand, features, quality, and size, as well as shipping and handling. Before making a purchase please consult with colleagues about solutions they recommend. 

    NOTE: Depending on how your doc cam will connect to your computer you may also need to purchase appropriate cable/port adaptors.

    If you’ll only need a doc cam for a brief period you can request to borrow one for a short-term loan (3 days) from Media Services.

For other questions about using or purchasing a doc cam, please contact your departmental liaison or email Academic Technology.