The best document camera

Camera & Photo

Some document cameras may be sold under other names, such as digital presenter, meeting webcam and visualizer. When shopping for a document camera, use an assortment of these and other keywords so you have more products to choose from.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which document camera is best?

If you need to present paper documents during a meeting or presentation, a high-quality document camera is a must. Similar to the overhead projectors once found in many offices and classrooms, document cameras are webcam-like devices that are used to project detailed images in real time. 

The Epson DC-21 Document Camera is the top choice because it delivers 1080p resolution and comes with a microscope adapter.

What to know before you buy a document camera

Uses for a document camera

Document cameras aren’t just for paper documents. Many science teachers will use the devices with a microscope attachment to examine samples with their class, while an instructor of American Sign Language may use a document camera to present new signs to their students in real time. A document camera can also capture detailed images of photos, maps and illustrations. This versatility is what makes document cameras so valuable to presenters and sets them apart from overhead projectors.  

Components of a document camera

  • Arm: The arm is the part that connects the lens of the camera to the base. These components typically feature some degree of adjustability so you can point the camera to a particular area of your documents. 
  • Image sensor: Similar to the sensor found in a digital camera, the image sensor is the high-tech component that converts the visual signal into an image that you can see. 
  • Lens: This crucial component typically lets you adjust the focus on the document camera. 
  • Storage: Many document cameras let you save image and video files so you can view and share them later on. This feature is particularly helpful for presentations, since it allows your audience to revisit images afterward if they missed anything. Some cameras require a connection to a computer to save files, while other devices may include a port for a USB flash drive. 

Connection

Document cameras need to be connected to a projector or TV before they can display images. Most cameras connect via USB, HDMI or VGA. When shopping for a document camera, think about how you’re going to display the images, and make sure that the device you choose has all of the necessary ports. 

What to look for in a quality document camera

Resolution and zoom

With document cameras, resolution is usually measured in megapixels. A higher megapixel count will produce sharper, clearer images, while a low megapixel count may deliver grainy or blurry image quality. Most document cameras are 2 to 10 megapixels. Depending on the images you intend to display, a powerful zoom is equally important. Look for a camera that provides 3x digital zoom or higher. 

Lighting

Many document cameras come with an LED light that’s positioned near the lens. This additional illumination is helpful if you want to display clear, detailed images. 

Software

If you want to record your lessons or presentations, look for a document camera that comes with some kind of video-capture software that enables you to edit and share your recordings. 

Accessories

There are many common accessories that you can search for when picking out a document camera, including microscope adapters, close-up lens attachments and even built-in microphones for times when your audience is particularly large.

How much you can expect to spend on a document camera

The cost of a document camera can vary widely depending on the features included. Cameras with limited adjustability and low resolution can be purchased for under $100, while high-end units with professional image quality and storage capabilities commonly exceed $200. 

Document camera FAQ

Why are the images from my document camera blurry?

A. Try adjusting the focus ring on your camera’s lens. If that doesn’t work, make sure that the lens isn’t smudged or dusty. 

Can document cameras be used during Zoom meetings?

A. Most document cameras can be used during virtual meetings as long as they are connected to a computer. Once connected, simply go into the program settings and select the document camera as your video source. 

What’s the best document camera to buy?

Top document camera

Epson DC-21 Document Camera

Epson DC-21 Document Camera

What you need to know: This high-quality document camera offers stellar image quality and is loaded with helpful features for teachers and business professionals alike. 

What you’ll love: Versatile and easy to use, this camera uses 12x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom and 1080p image resolution to produce crystal-clear images. It also comes with a microscope adapter, built-in microphone and a free software download. 

What you should consider: This model is expensive. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Top document camera for the money

IPEVO V4K USB Camera

IPEVO V4K USB Camera

What you need to know: Budget-friendly and reliable, this simple document camera connects via USB and is perfect for smaller classrooms and conference rooms. 

What you’ll love: This document camera is lightweight and capable of capturing 30 frames per second. It also comes with built-in macro mode, intelligent autofocus and custom software so you can save and share images. 

What you should consider: With its 2-megapixel sensor, this document camera is unsuitable in cases where high resolution is needed. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Document camera worth checking out

Lumens DC120 Ladibug Document Camera

Lumens DC120 Ladibug Document Camera

What you need to know: This stylish document camera is extremely adjustable and features wireless connectivity. 

What you’ll love: This model stands out because of its wireless capabilities. The camera also comes with a free software download, attached LED light and a 5.5x mechanical zoom feature. The company offers a five-year replacement warranty. 

What you should consider: This device is potentially less versatile than similar document cameras. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.