One of the advantages of the Point 2 View USB Document Camera is that it does not need its own light source, unlike overhead projectors or certain types of other document cameras. However, there may be times when you need to operate in a low-light environment. These scenarios include a darkened presentation room when visibility of the viewing screen is most important, or demonstrations of devices with LCD screens, such as smartphones or the iPad.
In the special situation of the LCD screen, the star of your show is the screen itself, so any additional lighting may or may not be helpful. It’s important to understand that your Point 2 View is constantly adjusting itself to arrive at what its computer brain thinks is the best exposure for the image. And it’s pretty darn good with even just a little light. In the case of most LCD screens, your Point 2 View will be smart enough to adjust exposure accordingly for the best image quality.
Ratcheting down the brightness level on your demonstration device, for example, will cause the Point 2 View to “open up” and let more light in, resulting in an image that’s just about the same either way. Similarly, the Point 2 View will respond to increased brightness by letting in less light, and again the image is about the same. In any case, make sure your device fills up as much of the Point 2 View’s screen as possible. The bigger your device appears, the better your Point 2 View will be able to “guess” at the proper exposure.
Next, let’s tackle three-dimensional objects and text. We mentioned that the Point 2 View is very good at picking up your subject with even a little light. But it can’t make something from nothing, and if there’s too little light, it will lose details. In a darkened room, consider using a separate, portable, directional light source. An ideal source is a pharmacy table lamp featuring multiple joints for maximum flexibility in placement—much like the Point 2 View’s stand itself.
Your goal is bright, even coverage, but not too bright; remember, cameras don’t have the dynamic range of the human eye, and something that looks great to your eye might look blown out on the screen. For that reason, a lower-watt bulb is recommended, something like a 40W or 60W incandescent bulb (9W or 13W if you’re using fluorescent bulbs).
As for the position of the lamp, you’ll want to place the bulb at a high angle above the object or text. This minimizes shadows and gives you nice, even coverage. However, don’t place the camera body between the bulb and subject, as it will create a nasty shadow.
One more tool you have at your disposal is the exposure adjustment in the Point 2 View‘s interface. The second tab on the interface is for exposure, and you can darken the image (by selecting -1 or -2) and brighten the image (by selecting +1 or +2), with Exposure 0 meaning there is no artificial exposure change. This is a good option for fine tuning.
In any case, trial and error is your best friend. Experiment with different light placements, light strengths, and brightness/exposure settings prior to your presentation. It’s always better to figure out the optimal setup beforehand. Remember, don’t trust your eyes: trust what everybody is going to be looking at, the projector screen!