I did however like the speed with which I could take the photos of the documents and the ability to digitize documents of really any size. So this got me exploring the concept of Document Cameras. Let me declare right up front that you can pretty much pay anything you want when it comes to document cameras, but $20,000 for a truly professional model was simply not in the budget. That meant finding a document camera that resulted in a quality image without breaking the budget! I performed the usual websearch and found dozens of cameras on the market, so it was clear that I needed to develop some requirements to help narrow the field. What I came up with was resolution, image type, ease of use, compatible software, and importantly under $500.
- Resolution - I wanted to be able to generate an image that was of sufficient quality that all readable detail of the original could be seen in the image. After looking at many different images I settled on at least 5 Mega-pixel. The concept of mega-pixels in cameras is probably for a completely different blog but one which I hope to cover in the future.
- Image Type - It was important to me to be able to generate a lossless digital image. I get the whole thing about .jpg's being the defacto standard of the internet, but each time you save an image as a jpg you lose a little bit of the quality. As such I wanted to be able to save the original image in a format that would not lose quality. If I need an image in jpg format I have the software to convert it. This was important to me, and ultimately I settled on the .tiff file format.
- Ease of Use - As soon as I started taking photos of documents with my Samsung Note I realized how much I liked the speed with which I could take those photos. With a scanner set at high resolution it could take 15-30 seconds or longer to process each page. this was fine if you had 1 or 2 documents, but remember I am looking at processing thousands, and the amount of time that was going to take was depressing! So whatever document camera I found needed to be able to focus and take the photos quickly and clearly.
- Compatible Software - Ok, confession time. I am a PC person. always have been always will be. I am not saying PC's are better than Apple (ok actually I guess I am), but whatever software came with the camera had to work on my Samsung Series 9 ultrabook, and Windows 8 operating system.
- Under $500 - as it turns out this was never an issue. $500 seems to be a natural pricing breakpoint. virtually all of the cameras I looked at fell under this price.