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10 Best Document Cameras for Teachers in 2021 (Math and Art Visualizers)

10 Best Document Cameras for Teachers in 2021 (Math and Art Visualizers)

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The best Document cameras for teachers, remote learning, and classroom learning are very similar since the goal is to take a physical document and project it digitally to your classroom students.

Some document cameras are wireless, some are not. The wireless document cameras are typically more expensive than the wired document cameras (USB cord).

In this post, I’m going to cover the best document cameras for online teaching, distance learning, and for math, art and other subjects.

At a Glance- Top Picks

  1. IPEVO V4K: Best all-around document camera for teachers and schools
  2. Okiocam S usb: Best budget document camera for Zoom calls & distance learning
  3. IPEVO VZ-X 8mp: Best Wireless Document Camera for teachers
  4. Inswan INS-1 Tiny: Best USB document camera for Classrooms

A good document camera will have bluetooth or wifi compatibility making it wireless and will have a long battery life of over 9 hours long. Ipevo devices for example can last over 9-12 hours on their wireless model.

The doc cam will also have good doc cam app compatibility  as well as auto focus and high resolution camera quality. A microphone is also preferred by most teachers who use these devices.

What is a document camera for teachers

What is a document camera for teachers

A Document camera is a device used to present physical images digitally for many uses including teaching and remote learning. It is a powerful visual aid that projects an image of a written page, computer screen, or object directly into the classroom. 

An LCD panel flips to allow for overhead projection or documents can be laid flat on the projector stand for higher resolutions. Document cameras are also known as visualizers depending on where you are in the world.

Best Document cameras for teaching (Wireless & Wired)

Best Document cameras for teaching (Wireless & Wired)

Below, I’ll cover the pros, cons, compare different models as well as their previous models and how they evolved to give you a list of the top doc cams for teaching math, virtual learning, and even zoom & video conference meetings.

1. IPEVO V4K: Best all-around document camera for teachers and schools

IPEVO V4K_ Best all-around document camera for teachers and schools

This inexpensive, 8 megapixel (MP) camera will work with macOS, Windows, Chrome OS, and practically any third-party software or apps, making it an all-around good, affordable document camera that is just right for remote teaching and presentations.

It streams in full HD, giving you a lag-free live streaming experience as well as higher definition (HD) imaging.

The IPEVO V4K is powered by, and connects through a USB cable to the laptop or computer but not directly to a projector, which requires an HDMI port. You will need to use the computer as a medium to connect to the projector.

Its sturdy multi-jointed metal base allows you to take pictures from different heights and angles (the camera head can be disengaged from the stand too). The joints are also customizable to allow you to take photos of objects from different heights.

The joints were designed to be easily tightened using only an ordinary coin. Best of all, the joints can fold down so it the document camera lies flat for easy storage.

There are a few things you will need to remember when deciding whether this camera is for you. One, this camera does not have LED lights around the lens but its Sony CMOS image sensor more than makes up for that by capturing images perfectly even in low-light conditions and rendering them with reduced noise and great color reproduction.

See: 13 Best Online Whiteboards for Teaching, Remote work and Zoom

Two, you need to check system requirements. For example, this document camera will not run well on slower processors like the i3 processor of the MacBook Air. An i5 processor is recommended as the minimum for both macOS and Windows.

2. Okiocam S usb: Best budget document camera for Zoom calls & distance learning

Okiocam S usb_ Best budget document camera for Zoom calls & distance learning

The Okiocam S is a webcam and a document camera rolled into one. You can be in online meetings, recording online lectures, reading a book page, demonstrating a craft or specimen, or walking through mathematical calculations with your class. If the price point is a major consideration, this budget camera should do quite well as it is not only very affordable but also easy to use.

The camera connects through a USB cable to a laptop or computer hooked to a projector.

It works on Windows, macOS and Chrome OS and is plug-play compatible with video conferencing/recording tools like Google Meet, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, FaceTime, (Mac), native Windows Camera app, native Chromebook Camera app, and QuickTime player (Mac). 

While the camera is only 3MP compared to more expensive cameras with higher resolution, it is still full HD and is actually sufficient for classroom use since it is used mainly to project objects from the teacher’s table to a larger screen.

Related: 7 Best Digital Writing Pads for Online Teaching & Whiteboards

It has a foldable magnetic base plate with a detachable arm. A multi-jointed camera head rotates to easily capture images and videos from different angles.

Compact, light and portable at 0.59 lbs, the Okiocam S is one that easily fits in a bag. The camera has no LED lights around the lens so it may be a bit difficult to operate in a dim environment. A button located at the top of the camera head adjusts focus, exposure (brightness), and white balance (color temperature) automatically.

One note: Okiocam apps and extensions run only on Chrome (for Windows and Mac) and on Chrome OS (for the Chromebook).

3. IPEVO VZ-X 8mp Document Camera: Best Wireless Document Camera

IPEVO VZ-X 8mp Document Camera_ Best Wireless Document Camera

The IPEVO VZ-X is a high-end document camera with multiple connectivity options. 

This document camera gives you three ways to connect: WiFi, HDMI, and USB. With the WiFi feature, you can stream images, real-time, to your computer, Android/iOS devices, projector, smart TV, monitor, or Apple TV.

Alternatively, you can also connect through  a USB cable to a computer, or use HDMI to connect to a projector or monitor. Note: The camera does not come with an HDMI cable; you will need to purchase one separately.

The IPEVO VZ-X works wirelessly up to 33 feet. This should be sufficient to set a projector behind students seated a fairly large classroom (if you’re connecting via a projector).

One caveat: while the camera is connected to WiFi, your computer’s internet will be disabled; a workaround suggested by the manufacturer is to connect the computer to the internet using an Ethernet (wired) connection. 

The multi-jointed stand and swiveling arm of IPEVO VZ-X are made of glass fiber-reinforced thermoplastic which has the strength of metal without the weight.

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Positioning the camera at different heights, angles and orientations is not a problem at all with the movable arm. Buttons can be easily accessed along the body for real-time adjustment of images.

The Sony CMOS 8MP camera ensures clear, crisp images in full HD on any of the connectivity options. This model has LED lights around the lens to brighten the document area being displayed when in low light but under normal lighting, the light sensors work pretty well. The sensors take care of speedy focusing, noise reduction in low light, and accurate reproduction of colors. 

A huge plus for the IPEVO VZ-X is its battery life. The lithium ion battery, located on the base of the stand, can last between 9-12 hours, more than enough time for a full class day.

4. Inswan INS-1 Tiny: Best USB document camera for classrooms and time lapse (stop motion)

Inswan INS-1 Tiny_ Best USB document camera for classrooms and time lapse (stop motion)

The Inswan INS-1 Tiny has one of the smallest footprints in the document camera market, making it ideal for those who want to free up desktop space. It sports an 8MP Sony CMOS sensor that provides clear 2D or 3D images.

The document camera is user-friendly and works straight out of the box with little fuss. It connects through a USB cable to a computer hooked up to a projector or TV. 

The camera can be rotated for online meetings on Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and other similar platforms. A high-quality LED light near the lens allows you to brighten the area when in a low-light room. An anti-glare sheet, together with supplemental lights near the camera, can be used with glossy materials or shiny objects to prevent glare.

The built-in microphone allows you to explain, annotate, and describe lessons. It is also great for recording lessons that will be viewed at a later time by students doing distance learning.

Here’s something interesting for Science teachers. Microscope adapters are bundled with the Inswan INS-1 Tiny. That means you can project microscopic images. Imagine how excited your students will get when they see enlarged versions of microscopic specimen on their devices without having to crowd around a tiny microscope. 

The Inswan INS-1 Tiny works on Windows, mac OS, and Chrome OS.

5. CZUR Shine800 Pro Portable: Best document camera for Mac and Windows

CZUR Shine800 Pro Portable_ Best document camera for Mac and Windows

More than just a document camera, the CZUR Shine800 Pro Portable doubles as a portable scanner that one can easily bring around.

The CZUR Shine800 Pro Portable can scan a flat, A4 document in under one second per page. Scanning multiple pages will be easy and fast. Contracts, photos, receipts, IDs and similar documents can be captured easily.

An LED light around the lens illuminates the scan area when in a dimly lit room and the LED light’s brightness can be controlled by a button located on the stand’s base.  This camera also supports video recording.

The advanced OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software can recognize up to 186 languages. You can edit, crop, adjust sharpness and contrast, and convert/export them in different formats (JPG, PDF, Searchable PDF, Word, Excel, TIFF). Images are crisp and clear as this document camera comes with a CMOS 8MP lens.

CZUR is compatible with Zoom. You can annotate while presenting, highlight, scroll or click on the screen that you are sharing with the class.

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One difference between this document camera and some others we have covered is that the arm is not as flexible as those with multi-joints or a gooseneck which allow for material to be scanned from different heights and angles. The arm of the CZUR Shine800 Pro Portable folds out 90 degrees from the stand. A foot pedal, bundled with the camera, lets you scan pages swiftly and hands-free.

CZUR is ideal for scanning flat pages. It does not do as well when scanning books because the OCR has difficulty making out the words near the curvature of the book closest to the spine.

This will probably matter more for those trying to convert scanned words into text but if you are just projecting the book pages for illustration or reading purposes, it should not be a big issue. 

The CZUR Shine800 Pro Portable runs on macOS as well as Windows. While it is not compatible with a Chromebook, your presentation can still be seen by your students running Zoom on Chromebook.

6. iCODIS: Best document camera & scanner for paper scanning & live camera calls

iCODIS_ Best document camera & scanner for paper scanning & live camera calls

First off, the iCODIS document camera/scanner is only compatible with Windows (so take note of this if you are a Mac user, Mac users will want to grab another option)

The iCODIS is a sturdy document camera and scanner. The base is heavy enough to keep the document camera steady but is light enough to be portable. The arm that contains the camera head folds out in a 90-degree angle. The arm height is fixed and the camera head cannot swivel.

To prevent documents from moving while being scanned, the iCODIS comes bundled with a rubber mat. The 8MP camera head gives very clear scanned images. Its 4 LED lights are great for keeping documents well lit in dim rooms.

An edge that the iCODIS has over several other document cameras is that it has a larger scan area – up to A3 paper size.

This is very useful if you have larger documents or need a larger screen area when conducting lessons requiring a lot of space for annotating or illustrating.

The iCODIS is loaded with features. One, although you can manually scan, it also has an intelligent continuous shooting option that lets you set a time period for automatic, continuous scanning of images.

Two, its OCR technology can scan documents and convert the images into different formats, including PDF/Word/txt/jpg. Three, it can scan bar codes and QR codes. 

7. ET18 Pro: Best document camera for converting docs to searchable PDFs

ET18 Pro_ Best document camera for converting docs to searchable PDFs

The ET18 Pro is a professional and elegant-looking document camera and overhead scanner in one.

This document camera/scanner is a class above the usual document cameras/scanners available as it packs more features for educators who need a portable device for remote teaching, online presentations and illustrations, as well as a high-speed scanner. 

The ET18 Pro comes with a whopping 18MP Sony CMOS camera, one of the highest-resolution document cameras in the market today.

Never worry about blurry images because you will always get crisp and clear images every time. You will not need those bulky flatbed scanners anymore when you can have a portable, high-resolution scanner built into the ET18 Pro.

The flattening curved book page technology makes the ET18 Pro an excellent choice for converting scanned book pages into searchable PDFs. It emits 3 laser beams forming horizontal laser lines along the book’s pages. The software does angle computations to derive a 3D spatial curve of the laser lines and virtually “flattens” the book page.

It can also edit out your fingerprints as you hold the book open during scanning. Some users who have used Acrobat swear that the ET18 Pro is far superior when it comes to creating searchable PDFs; it turns books into searchable PDFs faster than Acrobat, processes it faster, and has more accurate OCR software. It can also split scanned open-book pages into two.

Most document cameras connect through a USB cable to a computer which, in turn, plug into a projector; on the other hand, the ET18 Pro has WiFi capability, making it that much easier to transfer scanned images remotely to a computer, smart TV, or wireless projector attached to the same network. 

The ET18 Pro can scan or project images in A3 or A4 size, or smaller. This covers practically all documents like exam papers, textbooks, magazines, blueprints, and large books.

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The overhead light on the camera head makes image projection in a dim room possible. An added bonus is two supplemental lights on the sides of the camera that eliminate glare from glossy pages. Just turn off the overhead light, turn on the supplemental lights, and you will get clear, non-glare images.

Some users say that they miss printed scanning software instructions that should normally come with premium document cameras. Instead, one has to watch a video with instructions on the manufacturer’s website. 

8. Joyusing V500: Best document camera with microphone & autofocus

Joyusing V500_ Best document camera with microphone & autofocus

Compatible with macOS, Windows and Chrome OS, the Joyusing V500S is a midrange document camera with built-in microphone and autofocus lens. The 8MP camera has a 100x digital zoom function with support for macro focus, giving 2D or 3D objects a scanning range from full shot to close-up view as well as a scan area almost as large as an A3 paper. 

Joyusing V500S’s was designed for flexibility. It has 2 arms, with joints swiveling at 90-, 180-, and 270 degrees. Your classes will be more interesting as you zoom in on objects for a close-up view, rotate the camera head for different angles, or zoom out for maximum view. If the display window is still not large enough to capture the entire document or object, just swivel the camera head or pan it from left to right. 

Pictures and objects are clearly captured in full HD. Plus, it has functions that allow you to add text, lines and annotations. 

Students will love the split screen feature that allows picture-in-picture (PIP). You can be showing them a live demo of a project, for example, while the PIP screen shows what the finished product (an image from your computer or external drive) looks like.

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The video capture function lets you record videos and store them on the computer for playing in class at a later time. It is also easy to record student presentations for replay at a later time when you are evaluating and grading their presentations. In addition, the document camera’s file management feature groups captured data according to time, subject, and importance.

The Joyusing V500S is lightweight and portable, making it easy to bring from classroom to classroom. When not in use, it folds down and occupies very little space. This is ideal for small classrooms where space is a premium.

9. Thustand: Best budget premium document camera

Thustand_ Best budget premium document camera

The Thustand document camera is a great choice for budget-conscious educators. It has the basic features you need for live broadcasting, real-time presentations, whiteboard or blackboard illustrations, close-up specimen examinations, and videoconferencing. 

The software that comes with the camera is compatible with Windows and macOS only; you will need to download third-party software for the camera to work with Chrome OS and Linux that have UVC support for video streaming. 

The USB-powered 8MP camera has fast focusing and captures images in full HD. At maximum zoom out, it can cover an area about the size of A3 paper; on the other hand, you can zoom in to objects as close as an inch and still get a well-focused, macro image. The camera is good for flat images but not so much for 3D scanning.

The Thustand document camera is plug-and-play compatible with most streaming, video conferencing and webcasting software like Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Twitch, YouTube, etc. No wonder it is often a popular choice among teachers for distance learning or simply to project an object from the teacher’s table to computers on students’ desks. The base plate is aluminum with all-metal brackets. This can be heavier than some other document cameras but it also makes the stand sturdier.

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The camera rotates 360 degrees but with the arm at a 90-degree angle from the stand, the camera is always facing down. To use it as a webcam, you will need to unscrew the camera, rotate it to face you, and screw it back on. This document camera also does not come with built-in LED lights so think of adequate lighting when using it.

10. ET16: Best high-end document camera & book scanner for teachers 

ET16_ Best high-end document camera & book scanner for teachers

The CZUR ET16 Plus is a premium document camera and overhead scanner with a powerful 16MP Sony camera that works with Windows and macOS through a USB cable.

This camera does rapid scanning at high-quality output — perfect for high digitization requirements in color, black-and-white, or grayscale. It can scan an area as large as an A3 paper under 2 seconds, scan 2 open pages of the book in one scan, and convert scanned pages into other formats (editable Word/PDF/TIFF or JPG).

To top it all, it comes with a foot pedal for rapid, hands-free document scanning.

Regular document cameras that scan flat documents normally have difficulty handling bound books as the OCR software cannot handle curved words near the spine.

The CZUR ET16 Plus, on the other hand, has the same robust, patented flattening curved book page OCR technology as the ET18 Pro. 

Three laser beams form horizontal lines along an open book’s pages so that the scanning software can compute the curvature angles and basically “flatten” the book page so that the words can be read and converted into searchable PDF.

Illuminating the scanned area is not a problem. The camera has 10 LED lights and 2 supplemental lights around it. The camera can produce shadowless images — a great plus for teachers showing physical objects in 2D or 3D and don’t want distracting shadows.

The ET16 Plus works very well with online meeting platforms, particularly Zoom. You can share your screen, annotate, highlight, scroll or click the screen.

Pros and Cons of using a document camera in the classroom

In the classroom, a document camera is an excellent teaching aid. It allows students to see the images projected onto a screen. Using a document camera in the classroom allows teachers to present materials in a more engaging way.

Documents can be projected and enlarged which enables learners to read them with ease.

By making notes or writing on the projected image, learners have another way of remembering what they have learnt.

Document cameras can be wireless or wired and have LED lights, high res megapixel cameras to capture characters of text accurately for pdf or presenting. 

Cons: They can be clunky and expensive compared to using an old iPad or iPhone, a Stand, and a document camera app

Benefits: Document cameras are portable, versatile and have great resolution images to display to your students and classroom

How to use a Document camera as a teacher

In a  virtual teaching setup, a document camera can be used to allow teachers to digitize and present information that is tangible to use with the latest technology.

Many teachers use a second bigger screen to project their doc cam images like textbooks or algebra/calculus lesson plans. 

How do you use a document camera for remote teaching

For remote learning you can use a document camera with the ipevo document camera app to connect to zoom, or other online whiteboard or video conferencing tools.

Heres how to use a document camera for remote teaching:

  1. Ensure your document camera is compatible with your computer or laptops operating system
  2. Install the manufacturers document camera app or download a third party do cam app of your preference such as ipevo iDocCam.
  3. Connect the document through wired USB or wireless (Airplay or miracast)
  4. Choose to cast to a second monitor by mirroring your screen on your laptop and present your scanned document to your classroom in real-time or by video recording your presentation

How can a document camera be used in the classroom

To use a Document camera in a classroom you can use an Apple TV or any smart TV that is on the same bluetooth to mirror your doc cam. You can either connect your doc cam to the computer or directly to the network you are on.

Here’s how to use a doc cam in the classroom on Mac:

First, go to the apple menu, next locate system preferences and choose display

Next, Check off the show mirror option on the bottom left side of the screen.

Then, you can then choose your display to micro or use as separate display.

Using as a separate display will allow you to use the document camera for remote learning in the classroom.

Your document camera app from the manufacturer will give specific directions depending on which brand you choose.

How to use a doc cam on windows for classroom teaching

For using a doc camera on windows, you can do the same type of doc cam presenting as Mac, only you’ll want to use the windows miracast option instead of AirPlay. These steps will allow you to make presentations using the document camera

Buyers Tips

Here are our tips from experts and teachers on what to look for in a document camera.

How to choose a Document camera for teaching and distance learning

When choosing a document camera you’ll want to look for portability (wired or wireless), how large the doc cam is, if it has a microscope adapter, the brand name reputation, what type of LED lighting you need, webcam compatibility, resolution and price.

Portability: You have the option of going wireless and choosing a smaller size doc cam if you’re in a smaller classroom or value a less bulky setup for remote or in-class learning.

Brand Name: Ipevo is a popular brand name, be careful of third party alternatives without fully researching if they’ll have the proper resolution, durability, portability, and document camera apps you need

LED Lighting: If you’re using the document camera in the dark, then you will want to consider the proper amount of led lighting and is something to look for when choosing the right doc cam for your distance learning or online tutoring session.

Price: Price will be higher depending on if you choose a higher resolution doc cam with more features such as a web cam, led lighting, bluetooth technology, and wireless connection to other devices like laptops, monitors, and smart displays.

Wireless Vs Wired Document Camera

Choosing a wireless document camera/scanner will allow you to connect to a laptop,PC, Android, iOS, and other devices such as chrome books or smart TV’s & monitors.

If you have an Apple TV or Roku, you can also project or micro your doc cam presenting to these devices.

Alternatively, you can use a cheap, good document camera by simply choosing a wired option; which will allow for USB or HDMI setup. more modern doc cams will provide usb-c compatibility.

Document Camera Apps

There are various apps to connect your document camera that will allow you to draw, annotate and do many other things such as present and turn your physical papers with writing on it into a pdf to edit.

While most document cameras have a doc cam app that comes with the device, you can also use an iPad or iPhone document camera app for more features such as split screen, zoom, virtual learning, and controlling your iPhone or iPad as a document camera.

Here are the top document camera apps:

  • IPEVO Presenter
  • iDocCam
  • Aver Education
  • IPEVO Visualizer

What is a Visualizer?

A visualizer is also known as a document camera or document scanner that captures images and presents them to an audience such as classroom or students. This is possible both in class on a second monitor and remotely.

Teacher use visualizer devices for online learning and projecting objects in your class. a Visualizer can be utilized to project this image on a large format display. You can use it for modeling, anatomy, or taking something thats too small or difficult and showing to the entire class.

Conclusion

Overall, the best document cameras for the teaching online, distance learning, online tutoring, or in the classroom are the devices that include a webcam, wireless connection, LED light built-in, long battery life and autofocus. Portability, size, and connectivity also should be considered before buying a document camera.

Popular document cameras include the Ipevo scanners and visualisers. Alternatively you can use an iPad as a document camera.

The document camera is a great way to present physical documents or turn them int oa PDF to edit and annotate for your students. There are many different doc cam apps you can use and alternatives to getting a dedicated, standalone document camera include the iPad, iPhone, or other brand name tablets with a compatible doc cam app.