I've used a document camera for capturing handwritten lectures. To be more specific I solve exercises for my students by writing on a blank sheet of paper while explaining. So far I've been using an auditorium for this, but I'd like to do the same in my office. Thus, I need a webcam which I can mount above my desk. The biggest problem is budget, and that I work only on Macs (few webcams support OS 10.9. I've been searching for webcams and there are only a few 1080p HD cams available in nearby stores. But would a 720p HD camera be ok?

What would the experts recommend?

1 Answer 1


For online delivery and viewing on laptops/tablets, 720P should be sufficient for capturing the entire sheet in a legible way, but resolution isn't the only factor to consider...

A 1080P camera would capture higher-resolution images, but a 1-hr lecture at that size would probably result in a file size around 1GB. Assuming the intended delivery is online, the resolution/quality should probably be reduced anyway for ease of viewing/upload/download - the benefits of a better camera would likely be lost.

I'd also suggest that proper lighting & contrast are greater concerns than camera resolution.

A webcam may have issues if the room is too dark, or if the paper is too brightly illuminated (or not illuminated enough). Similarly, a black marker would be much more legible than, say, a ballpoint pen, but you can't fit as much writing on the page.

Exposure/contrast would also vary depending on if you only intend to include the white paper/writing in the frame, or yourself lecturing as well. This would be the 1 area where resolution might matter - how much of the screen is actual writing?

I'd recommend buying the (presumably cheaper) 720p one at a store with a 30-day return policy & do some test lessons in the actual environment. Play with lighting, camera position, etc. If students are happy viewing them, you're all set. If not, try 1080p :)


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