Picture Perfect

from Tech&Learning

Today's document cameras continue to evolve light years past the dinosaur days of the overhead projector. Check out the latest features of these document cameras to see how your tech-loving teachers can find even more presentation perks.

What to Look for in a Document Camera

FOCUS: Some document cameras include auto-focus, others require manual focus.

FRAME REFRESH RATE: As you move or rotate an object under the lens, the camera must refresh the image; a higher refresh rate (for example, 40 frames per second) provides smoother movement than a lower rate (such as 20 frames per second).

OUTPUT: In addition to direct viewing of objects through the document camera, many provide the ability to save 'snapshots' of objects in the camera itself, to a memory card, or directly to a computer's hard drive via a USB cable.

RESOLUTION: The greater the number of pixels, the better the projected resolution.

FLEXIBLE VIEWING: In order to view objects from all sides, a document camera should have the ability to rotate the head. Some have flexible gooseneck arms to allow precise manipulation.

ZOOM: It is important to be able to zoom in for a closer look at an object; some provide higher quality (and more expensive) optical zoom, others lower quality (and less expensive) digital zoom, and some offer both.

BRIGHTNESS: Some document cameras include extra lights to add brightness and eliminate shadows.


ELMO's TT-02s "Teacher's Tool" weighs less than six pounds. The camera easily rotates to line up precisely with a microscope eyepiece. It has a stable camera arm that requires only one hand for easy adjustment. It has a zoom lens and auto focus and can be connected to a digital projector, TV, VCR, or computer. In addition, it has a SD memory card holder and a USB port to download images to a computer for storage. (www.elmousa.com/applications-education.php; $769)

QOMO's QD700 Digital Processing Visual Presenter has a 22x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom, and a motorized camera head for hands-free operation. It also has LED side and base lamps, and can freeze the top eighth of the screen for presentation title display. It includes split screen capability, can save 7 images internally, and has ports for RGB, S-video, composite video, and RS-232 for flexible output. It comes with a wireless remote, as well as a USB port for connection to a computer. (www.qomo.com; $1,290)

The DC260 Visual Presenter from Lumens includes such features as a 1080p HDMI output for a large screen, flat panel, high definition display, an audio and video processor for full-frame video recording, built-in microphone, 3x optical zoom, SXGA output with extended gooseneck and a double lamp design to provide optimal lighting. It can record fullframe audio and video presentations and store them to an external SD memory card; information can be transferred to computer via USB2.0. The presenter can store up to up to 240 jpeg images internally and has a built-in slideshow capability. There is a "book" mode, which allows teachers to toggle from a full-page view to either a top or bottom-half page view in larger print without readjusting the original. Using the "Picture-by-Picture" mode, teachers can compare and contrast live shots against previously captured images side by side. (www.mylumens.com; $999)

The AVerVision CP300 Interactive Document Camera uses their patented 2x "AVERZOOM" technology allowing one to optically zoom in while preserving the ability to pan a document; it also has an 8x digital zoom/pan. Also patented is their laser positioning guide, allowing the easy placement and location of documents. The CP300 has split screen and picture-in-picture capability, built-in memory for 80 images storage, built-in AVerVision annotation software, and a 360 degree accessible remote control with a built-in laser pointer. Lastly, it has autofocus capability and the ability to share over a LAN. (www.avermedia-usa.com; $700)

Dukane's Document Camera 335 can capture and save images, and has an optional microscope adapter; the gooseneck design allows the lens head and light head to rotate 360 degrees to capture images at all angles. The autofocus lens and 16X zoom provide clear images; the unit has USB connectivity for connection to a computer, as well as televisions and projectors. The included software gives the ability to annotate, capture, and store images onto a computer through the use of the USB cable. Joe Steidl, a 5th grade teacher from St. Charles, IL, says his 335 allows him to do "things that are not possible with an overhead," such as examine crayfish up close; he says the camera "allows for flexibility in teaching your lessons." (www.dukcorp.com; $625)

SMART's Document Camera was developed to integrate with their SMART Board; it instantly incorporate detailed images into digital lessons using a SMART Board and their Notebook collaborative learning software. You can write over images, capture stills directly into Notebook software (or other applications), and capture work as images or videos to add to a Notebook file. It has auto focus and automatic brightness control, both optical and digital zoom, and a removable stage to write over documents anywhere or set up objects under the camera. The rotating head lets you adjust the camera to view an object at almost any angle or to precisely align it with a microscope eyepiece. It also has a SD memory card slot to save data onto an SD memory card. (www.smarttech.com; $849)

Canon's RE-455X "Visualizer" has a 12x zoom lens, twin fluorescent lamps, and can display objects or images as small as 1.2" x .9" and up to 12.1" x 9". It can be connected to a PC, giving the ability to switch between the RGB input from the computer and the image from the RE-455X for a single presentation. It has autofocus, and includes RCA, S-video, and RS-232C outputs. (www.usa.canon.com; $2,299)

Toshiba's TLP-XC2500AU digital projector has an integrated document camera included. It can display live video of hands-on demonstrations, 3D objects, fine-print text, and microscopic images. The projector is 2500 lumens, 1024x768 resolution, with a lamp life of up to 3000 hours. The document camera has 3 mega pixel resolution, manual focus, and auto/lock white balance. (www.toshibadirect.com; $1,559)