Take a Closer Look: Find the Best Document Camera to Meet Your Needs — 9 Best Teachers’ Choices

When it comes to document cameras, there are many choices. It might seem a bit challenging to understand the technical specifications, so I took a look at the doc cams available at different price points to find the ones that I can recommend for your consideration at various budget levels. Most people choose devices considering their budget so I also made a review of the best budget microphones which you can find here.

Now let’s see the best doc cams on the market.

My Top Pick

V4K from IPEVO

Features:

  • Offers high-definition and ultra-high-definition image capture.
  • 8 megapixels.
  • Includes a free download of Visualizer software.
  • Automatic focus and exposure.
  • Ability to set the focus manually.

Best for: This model is high-quality and professional grade. It is a strong value for its price.

Check price on Amazon →

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Check price on IPEVO →

This is one of the best doc cams on the market due to its awesome features. Read more about this product in my review below.

Also Great

INS-1 from INSWAN

Features:

  • Works well even under low-light conditions.
  • Offers ultra-high definition quality for live-streaming.
  • Compatible with PCs, Macs, and Chrome notebooks.
  • Small size (11.38” by 4.53” by 3.27”)
  • Includes an eyepiece connector for a microscope.

Best for: Biology teachers and those working in a lab who want to show images seen under a microscope.

Check price on Amazon →

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Two of these cams that I reviewed are nice choices for different purposes. I think the V4k model from IPEVO has an amazing image quality. I would choose the INS-1 model from INSWAN if I wanted to show students things with a microscope.

Buyer’s Guide: How to choose a perfect doc cam

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that will help you understand more about these devices.

How many megapixels should a camera be?

Megapixels are a measurement of a camera’s ability to determine the possible print sizes of images that are captured. One megapixel is equal to one million pixels. A higher number of megapixels help the cam capture more-detailed images that are needed for larger prints. Think of the resolution as the size of the view and clarity on a video display and megapixels as the details captured by the sensors to use for printing something. This will help you understand easier.

You might think that you would want to use the best capture levels all the time. However, there is a trade-off because when more details are captured, each image’s file size increases. When lighting conditions are low, using a camera with higher megapixels captures more unwanted “noise.”

How many megapixels should a camera be?
For printing large images (20 inches by 30 inches), you need 10 megapixels. This pick with more than 10 megapixels are used for specialty printing, such as extremely detailed blueprints, fine art lithographs, or huge advertising banners. If you are not planning to print anything, five megapixels is sufficient.

Refer to this megapixel scale for your reference so you can see that any number of megapixels from one to more than 10 provides an excellent low-resolution video display. For live streaming, a one-megapixel camera is sufficient. High-definition video needs around two megapixels. Five megapixels cams are super-high-definition. Ultra-high-definition is eight megapixels.

Should I get a portable document camera?

Portability is the kind of thing you may appreciate, even if you do not need it immediately. The trade-off is that the less-portable systems are heavier, sturdier, and more stable. They are more like workhorses. A non-portable system will be a better choice if the doc cam is in one location. Also, it is better to have a non-portable unit if it will have heavy use, such as using the document cam to scan many pages of physical books for a digital library.

Do document cameras connect to smartboards?

Yes. All you need to make sure is the systems are compatible. Smartboards connect to a computer, and a document camera also connects to a computer. Smartboards show what is on the computer screen, so if that image comes from the signal, it will show what it is recording.

Here is a video that shows an example of how to connect a document cam to a smartboard.

Do I need a camera with live-streaming?

This is a feature that is most important to educators, trainers, and presenters that conduct virtual sessions that offer live-streaming events. Almost all popular document cams now have the ability to stream video images. However, special-use devices, for example, those only used to scan the pages of physical books, do not need this capability.

How to use a document camera for distance learning (with Zoom)?

Zoom and other online conferencing systems have become extremely popular because they are so easy to use. Using a document cam with Zoom is a no-brainer. You connect your cam to your online computer using a USB cable, install the Zoom software on the computer, and then, in the Zoom software, click the “Share Screen” button in the meeting controls. Most picks double as a webcam. Some have a two-camera or camera focus feature that allows easy switching between the document view and a webcam view.

How to use a document camera for distance learning (with Zoom)?

Here are the devices I examined in a list and then each of the reviews follow.

Teachers’ Choices of the Best Document Cameras
V4K - IPEVO

This model is designed for professionals who know how to download the necessary software and set up a piece of equipment like this.

Amazon →Walmart →eBAY →IPEVO →
INS-1 - INSWAN

A great choice for usage in teaching science classes as it can be attached to a microscope.

Amazon →Walmart →eBAY →
S1 - iOCHOW

This doc cam is very helpful when scanning a physical book or pages of notes.

Amazon →eBAY →iOCHOW →
TT-12i - Elmo 1341

This is the perfect choice for Zoom lessons, scanning small images or text.

Amazon →eBAY →Elmo →
IPEVO VZ-X

If you want a device with a wireless connection and built-in Wi-Fi, this is an excellent choice.

Amazon →eBAY →IPEVO →
S3 - iOCHOW

This is the perfect device to take on the road if you need to capture many pages of physical books or legal documents.

Amazon →Walmart →eBAY →iOCHOW →
OKIOCAM S - OKIOLABS

It is a nice model to use for time-lapse photography, stop-motion capture, and live video streaming.

Amazon →Walmart →eBAY →
VZ-R - IPEVO

This model has USB and HDMI connectors to any computer and directly to a TV or projector without using a computer.

Amazon →Walmart →eBAY →IPEVO →
OKIOCAM T - OKIOLABS

This is a low-cost solution for home use and used in schools for those who don’t want to spend much money.

Amazon →eBAY →

1. V4K – IPEVO

With an eight-megapixel camera, the V4K model from IPEVO captures ultra-high-definition images. It can stream them at 15 frames per second. Alternatively, high-definition images at a slightly-lower resolution can stream at 30 frames per second.

V4K - IPEVO
If you want to capture and print high-quality still photos, do live conferencing, or give demonstrations in high-definition, this is a perfect choice for the document cam to use. Credits: www.ipevo.com

This model does double duty. It scans documents and can be used as an HD or UHD webcam. It is compatible with PCs, Macs, and Chrome notebooks.

Pros

  • The device has a microphone built-in.
  • Works with many popular video conferencing software programs.
  • Captures nice image quality even in low-light conditions.
  • The camera has a SONY CMOS image-sensing system that reduces unwanted image-capture noise with an excellent reproduction of the colors.
  • When switching to different materials, automatic refocusing is very fast.

Cons

  • No user manual is included. All product information is found online.
  • A free download of visualization software is necessary to get this pick to function.
  • Not plug-and-play, so you may have configuration issues when setting up this device.
V4K - IPEVO
Credits: www.ipevo.com

This video shows a comprehensive overview of this cam, what it comes with, and how to hook it up, with a demonstration of it being used to create a live stream.

Summary: This model is designed for professional use by those who know how to download the necessary software and set up a piece of equipment like this. It can be frustrating for amateur users because the only available tech support is sending a question by email to the company and then waiting a day or so for a response. If you never did this before, you may need some technical help from someone comfortable with the setup procedures.

2. INS-1 – INSWAN

The INS-1 model from INSWAN is a favorite with science teachers. This is the only camera that I reviewed that has the ability to show images of things under a microscope. You will have the class’s full attention when demonstrating the bacteria that can be found in a glass of drinking water.

INS-1 - INSWAN
Use this device in class to show images from a microscope. Credits: www.inswan.com

Another terrific and useful feature of this model is the LED lighting to help capture images in a low-light condition. There is also an anti-glare sheet to make the image clearer when turning on the LED light. It is also able to live-stream the images for virtual classroom sessions and record them for later viewing. I found it very easy to set it up, with the quick-start guide that is included.

Pros

  • Has a well-built, sturdy design.
  • Captures ultra-high-definition images for live-streaming at 30 frames per second.
  • Made in Taiwan, which is known for making excellent document cams.
  • Compatible with PCs, most Macs, and Chrome notebooks.

Cons

  • Not plug-and-play. It requires a download of the free Documate software to get it to work.
  • May have trouble working with the newest versions of the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
INS-1 - INSWAN
Credits: www.inswan.com

This video by Ryno Reviews shows the unboxing of the InSwan INS-1 document camera. The reviewer shows how to use it in low-light conditions and as a webcam.

Summary: This is one of my favorite document cameras that are priced under $100. You may want to get one specifically for its ability to be attached to a microscope. Many like to use it in teaching science classes. I am not a super techie so, when I was setting it up, I was happy to learn that the company offers manuals and online video tutorials for this item. Students get excited when seeing microscopic activity on a big screen or during virtual classroom presentations.

3. S1 – iOCHOW

The S1 document camera from iOCHOW is a high-definition (HD) scanner that can go almost anywhere. It uses a sophisticated OCR software program that captures text in many languages correctly. There is an automatic image capture feature that I find very useful called “intelligent picture shooting.”

S1 - iOCHOW
This item is very stable when mounted on its heavy base. Credits: www.iochow.com

The intelligent photo capture makes automatic corrections of images, such as filling in an incomplete scanned image edge and creating a merger of both sides of a captured photo identification card while eliminating the unneeded white space. You can set up intelligent capture for repetitive tasks to make the process go more smoothly and quickly.

Pros

  • This device has a sturdy and stable build that reduces movement when bumping a desk or table it sits on.
  • There are built-in LED lights that can be turned on from four angles to create the perfect lighting conditions.
  • Has a eight megapixel camera for stills and HD images for live-streaming.
  • It can capture large images (11.6” by 16.5”) in ultra-high-definition mode.
  • The optical character recognition software recognizes and correctly interprets many languages.

Cons

  • Not compatible with Macs or Chrome notebooks.
S1 - iOCHOW
Credits: www.iochow.com

This video from Christ InfoGeek shows the unboxing, setup, and use of this model. There is no narration during the video, just nice piano background music.

Summary: I enjoy using the auto-photo feature. It works on a timer to take image captures automatically. This is very helpful when scanning a physical book or pages of notes. It allows time to turn the page and then takes a capture without having to press a button. I find this process an excellent timesaver and much easier than using other systems for physical book scanning.

4. TT-12i – Elmo 1341 model

The TT-12i – Elmo 1341 model is an impressive professional-grade camera that is loaded with excellent features. It has a built-in digital zoom that increases an image up to 96 times, perfect for scanning small items or zooming in close on images or text.

TT-12i - Elmo 1341 model
This camera is 3.4 megapixels, which provides a high-definition video that can be live-streamed at 30 frames per second. Credits: www.elmousa.com

The output resolution is adjustable for low Internet bandwidth conditions. I use it to record my live sessions and store them on a portable hard drive to take with me while also making a backup copy on the cloud for my students to view whenever they want to see it. If a student misses a class, the video is there waiting for them to access it on the cloud server.

Pros

  • The Image sensor is CMOS with 3.4 megapixels.
  • The arm on the stand and the camera head is fully adjustable, making is easier to get it at the best angle to capture an image.
  • It is compliant with the USB video standard of UVC.
  • The video output is 720p or 1080p, XGA, SXGA, and WXGA. This model works with the American NTSC broadcast standard and the European standard of PAL.
  • Serves as double-duty to capture images or as a web cam.

Cons

  • It is higher cost, at just over $700, than the others I reviewed.
TT-12i - Elmo 1341 model
Credits: www.elmousa.com

This video from Moravian IT College shows how to use the controls of the Elmo TT-12, which is found in many schools, colleges, and universities.

Summary: Many teachers already have experience using this document camera because it is prevalent in the educational system due to its sturdiness. Set-up is not difficult, and it is easy to use.

5. VZ-X – IPEVO

The VZ-X camera model from IPEVO excels in usability. Just connect it to any PC, Mac, iOS device, Android device, projector, computer monitor, or TV that accepts an HDMI digital input.

VZ-X - IPEVO
This system works with USB connections, HDMI connections, and over Wi-Fi connections too. Credits: www.ipevo.com

Using Wi-Fi makes it super easy to connect to smartphones and other wireless devices.

Pros

  • This model with 8 megapixels captures high-definition (HD) images at 1920p x 1080p and ultra-high-definition (UHD) images at 3264px 2448p.
  • HD images can live-stream at 30 frames per second.
  • It has a built-in LED light to use for low-light conditions.
  • The shooting area is quite large (11.14” by 19.72”), which is wonderful to work with, for example, when showing blueprints.
  • The battery life is up to 12 hours and the Wi-Fi range is up to 33 feet.

Cons

  • This model is a bit pricey, at around $590.
  • The instruction manual is online and does not ship with the unit.
  • The company only offers tech support by email.
VZ-X - IPEVO
Credits: www.ipevo.com

This reviewer in this video by GorillaPhysics likes this document camera that he calls a “visualizer.” He shows the controls and shows that it has Wi-Fi to use it wirelessly.

Summary: This model is a little costly due to built-in-in Wi-Fi. However, if you want a device with a wireless connection, this is an excellent choice.

6. S3 – iOCHOW

The S3 model from iOCHOW is a perfect choice if your main use is scanning physical books. It has software that automatically flattens the curved images of the captures of the book pages. Moreover, it has a finger-image removal function to automatically eliminate your fingertips in the image when you press down the page for scanning.

S3 - iOCHOW
It is priced well at just under $300. It would be my first choice to scan many pages of physical books to create a digital library. Credits: www.iochow.com

You can set the timer to allow page-turning, and then it automatically captures and corrects each image of a scanned book. It can scan about a page every 1.5 seconds.

Pros

  • This device has 17 megapixels, which makes it perfect to capture UHD images of up to A3-sized (11” x 17”) documents or book pages.
  • The optical character recognition software works with many languages.
  • Intelligent capture settings allow for continuous image capture.
  • The base is heavy to keep the device in the proper position.
  • It folds up and is portable.

Cons

  • This cam is not compatible with Macs or Chrome notebooks.
S3 - iOCHOW
Credits: www.iochow.com

This video from iOCHOW Official shows the unboxing and setup with an electro-dance-music backbeat and no narration.

Summary: This is the perfect device to take on the road if you need to capture many pages of physical books or legal documents.

7. OKIOCAM S – OKIOLABS

The OKIOCAM S model from OKIOLABS works either as a scanner or a webcam. It is a nice camera to use for time-lapse photography, stop-motion capture, and live video streaming.

OKIOCAM S - OKIOLABS
This camera sells for a low price of just under $70. Credits: www.okiolabs.com

It is a plug-and-play device compatible with PCs, Macs, and Chrome devices that is simple to set up and easy to use.

Pros

  • Low cost.
  • The resolution is 1920p x 1440p. Video streaming is 1920p x 1080p at 30 frames per second.
  • This device is lightweight at 0.59 pounds (269 grams).
  • Works with all the popular video conferencing software
  • Has a magnetic baseplate to hold it in position.

Cons

  • Made mostly from plastic.
OKIOCAM S - OKIOLABS
Credits: www.okiolabs.com

This video by DocumentCam shows the unboxing and setup of this item that the reviewer thinks is small and cute.

Summary: Use this device as a webcam, and you can talk during a live video showing your face and then turn the cam to take an image of something on your desk below.

8. VZ-R – IPEVO

The VZ-R model from IPEVO has USB and HDMI connectors. The USB output connects to any computer with a USB input. An HDMI connection is useful to connect directly to a compatible TV or projector without using a computer.

VZ-R - IPEVO
This document/web cam has 8 megapixels. Credits: www.ipevo.com

It captures either high definition or ultra-high-definition images.

Pros

  • This 8-megapixel device has a Sony CMOS sensor with an Ambarella video chip.
  • Captures 3264p x 2448p in USB mode and 1920p x 1080p in HDMI mode.
  • Can capture large images of 10.6” by 18.9”.
  • The auto-focus feature is fast and the color resolution is excellent.
  • It is compatible with the popular video-conferencing systems.

Cons

  • Automatic refocusing on the same image is annoying in low-light conditions. You can turn it off.
VZ-R - IPEVO
Credits: www.ipevo.com

This video by Quentin Stafford-Fraser shows this cam in use to scan documents on his desk and how the controls work.

Summary: This document camera works to capture images with any USB-enabled computer and is directly connected to a television, monitor, or projector using an HDMI connection.

9. OKIOCAM T – OKIOLABS

The OKIOCAM T model from OKIOLABS is a low-cost solution for home use and used in schools. I use it to share diagrams, drawings, worksheets, quiz results, and more during online lessons.

OKIOCAM T - OKIOLABS
This cam takes images of documents that are up to A3 (11” x 17”) size. Credits: www.okiolabs.com

This doc cam is slightly more expensive than the other OKIOCAM S model, which I also reviewed. I do not mind paying a little more to get a camera with a slightly better resolution. to take images of documents that are up to A3 (11” x 17”) size.

Pros

  • This model is plug-and-play.
  • Captures high-definition images of 1920p x 1080p.
  • Live-streams at 30 frames per second.
  • Compatible with the popular online conferencing systems.
  • Works with Windows, iOS, and Chrome OS.

Cons

  • Email-only tech support.
OKIOCAM T - OKIOLABS
Credits: www.okiolabs.com

This video by ThePenguinProf shows the unboxing, and the reviewer is a teacher who likes the budget price, plug-and-play setup, and portability.

Summary: The benefit I appreciate of this model over the cheaper one, made by OKIOLABS, is the ability to capture a larger area (11” x 17”) with the camera.

Other Essentials Chosen for Online Teachers

Here are some other suggestions for things that I think are useful accessories that online teachers will appreciate.

Anker 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub

Anker 4-Port USB 3.0 HubThis USB hub creates four additional USB ports for a device or computer. It comes with an attached two-foot cable. The hub works for devices with a USB connection. It supports PC or Macs.

It provides extra connections that are easy to use for flash drives and portable hard drives.

MOKiN USB C Adapter

MOKiN USB C AdapterThis adapter is designed to connect Macs and Apple devices. It works well with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. It offers 100W charging. Many types of connectors work with this adapter, including USB C, standard USB, HDMI, SD/TF Cards, and RJ45 for an Ethernet connection.

Zoweetek Portable Voice Amplifier

Zoweetek Portable Voice AmplifierThis is a small, easy-to-use, 10-Watt mini amplifier for a teacher in a larger room to make it easier for students to hear the lessons. It has a microphone headset that connects to the amp. It can be worn by being attached to a waistband. It is rechargeable and lightweight.

Useful Resources

Summary

Every educator, trainer, or online instructor will find that having a document cam is an essential part of the tools needed to provide quality educational and training experiences for virtual classrooms and online presentations. If you can afford it, get a professional-grade device for use in the classroom settings and a budget for use when portability is desired.

Due to the popularity of online learning, zoom-microphones are also in demand at the moment. Check out this article if you are in search of a microphone for zoom.

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