Document cameras are great for inclusive, interactive learning in the classroom and for large-screen projection at the office. But in low-light situations — particularly when you’ve turned the light off to provide a better view of the projection screen — lighting your subject can be a problem. Here are 11 solutions to that problem. After all, capturing text, objects or devices is only effective when you have the proper exposure. Otherwise, you and your audience are in the dark.
1. Desktop Lamps
Let’s start with the most obvious. An ordinary lamp can provide plenty of good light in a pinch. You’ll have to experiment with the position and angle that gives you medium-level exposure without too much glare, which is a particular problem with shiny electronic screens like tablets and smartphones.
2. USB LED Lights
Directed, even LED light, can help light the way when you have a computer and USB port handy. As a bonus, most of these are poseable for even more customization.
3. LED Bike Lights
Hey, if it can light the road ahead for your bike, it’s up to the task when it comes to your doc cam. These are usually also small enough to give you some versatility for setup. And afterward, you can clamp it to your bike for the ride home. Now that’s multitasking!
4. Keychain Lights
This category covers not just lights on keychains, but any of the portable, one-bulb LED lights that you can find in a variety of contexts. Just make sure you get one that can switch on and off… you don’t want to keep having to press the light in while you’re trying to give your presentation!
5. Clip-on Lights
These are ideal for targeted light when you have a table or similar feature to clamp the light to. If you’re using something like a Scan Kit to mount your documents upright, you have a perfect surface for a clip-on.
6. Book/Reading Lights
These lights, which also clip onto surfaces, provide a low, even light and are nice and small. If you’re finding that other solutions are blasting the subject with too much light, try one of these.
7. Ring Lights
Smaller ring lights might do the job with a little know-how and creative improvisation. And if the light is placed around the document camera lens, you’ll be dealing with little to no glare problems.
Point 2 View was mentioned as a favorite new tool of Dr. Hitoshi Kozu, M.D. who runs a medical clinic bearing his name in Tokyo. Dr. Kozu fitted an LED ring light onto the head of the camera so the throat would be well-illuminated. Source: http://blog.ipevo.com/?p=4566
8. Light Boxes
Most of us are familiar with these in the context of X-rays at the doctor’s office. But light boxes can also be used in conjunction with doc cams. These provide great light for documents, but aren’t very helpful for objects or books.
Light box used with P2V in dental inspection. Source: http://honeyb119.blog86.fc2.com/blog-entry-868.html
9. Phone Lights
The ordinary light coming from your phone could do the job if you’re out of other options, plus there are dedicated “torch” or “flashlight” apps that provide bright, even light. This option is best paired with a phone stand so you won’t need to physically hold the phone in place.
Kind of the same deal as #9, plus there are many more stands available for iPad than for smartphones, plus iPad provides a larger area of light. Again, bright and even light is the key (and one that doesn’t turn off every 30 seconds; tweak your settings). This is probably a no-go for longer sessions, as battery power starts becoming an issue.
11. Helmet or Headband Lights
If you don’t mind looking like a dork, this can be a pretty clever solution for hands-on demonstrations (such as a science experiment or showing off an iPad app). Sorry in advance for the pun, but you’d really be using your head if you tried this out.
We probably haven’t exhausted everything that’s possible, but you get the idea: when it comes to proper exposure, it’s whatever works! And your audience will thank you when they can see what you’re talking about.