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A complete review of selecting the appropriate USB web conferencing camera for rooms where you plan to use cloud based software like GoToMeeting, WebEX and Zoom.US

Part 2 - Making Camera Selections based upon the Specific Needs of Your Meeting Space

Part 2 - Making Camera Selections based upon the Specific Needs of Your Meeting Space

 

Resolution:

This one is easy as “more is always better”, as long as you can use it effectively. While 720p cams were the norm in the recent past, advances in web conferencing software, video compression, imaging chip cost reductions and network bandwidth improvements have placed the benchmark squarely on 1080p-30 (1920x1080 @ 30Hz). This means that you should make sure that your camera is able to natively capture this resolution. This is the resolution typically used today by high cost hardware solutions, like Cisco, Polycom and Lifesize, so the images you capture for web conferencing will be right on par with these high-end solutions.

Zoom Range:

Cameras typically offer 2 types of zoom, with some offering both. Optical zoom is the only one that matters, as digital zoom basically robs you of resolution by simply cropping the image to show the “zoomed” pixels only. True PTZ cameras will have optical zoom with a motorized lens that adjust for wide and telephoto shots. The amount of zoom, typically specified, for example as “3x” indicates the variation available as the lens distance from the imaging chip is adjusted. While this gives you a rough idea of the amount of zoom available, a better and practically useful specification is the Horizontal Field of View Angle (HFOV) range. This is typically specified, for example as “5 degrees to 45 degrees”. This range, (if accurately specified by the mfg/marketer!) should allow you to figure out exactly what any camera will capture throughout its zoom range.

USB Camera Field of View Options

Small Rooms:

Where attendees are close to the camera, will need a wide angle HFOV. For instance a camera with a wide angle of 90 degrees will capture anything within a field twice as wide as the distance from the camera. This would effectively capture people seated at the front of the table. A camera with a wide angle of 45 degrees will only capture within a field that is 82% as wide as the distance from the camera. This is only 41% of the wider camera image and would not capture people seated at the front of the table. See the graphic below for examples

USB Webcams for Large Rooms

Large Rooms

Where attendees or presenters may be far from the camera, will need a narrow angle HFOV. For instance a camera with a tele angle of 5 degrees will capture an image 26” wide at a distance of 25 feet from the camera (e.g. the head of a Boardroom table). This allows a good headshot with great focus on the speaker. A camera with a tele angle of 22.5 degrees will capture an image almost 10 feet wide at the same distance. This would not produce a headshot of any type and prevent focusing attention on an individual speaker. See the graphic above for examples. 

Part 3 - Selecting the Right Zoom for Your Room

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How do I select the right camera for my USB conferencing needs? -Part 1

 

How we got here:

Web cams that clip on top of your PC monitor have instigated a revolution in desktop video conferencing made up of a whole array of great web based video conferencing tools, like Skype, Oovoo, Google Hangouts, WebEx, Cisco Jabber, Microsoft Lync, ClearOne Spontania, Zoom.US, Polycom RealPresence, GoToMeeting and many others. These software solutions originated in the consumer market but were quickly adopted by the commercial and professional markets, when their ample benefits were recognized. With this wide ranging adoption of desktop video, the next thought was “Why can’t we use these great solutions in our meeting spaces as well?” And the answer was “You can.” Early adopters of this trend ran into a few issues however. The web cams and audio pods designed for the laptop and desktop were not quite up to the task of capturing the action in a larger meeting space.

Where we are today:

Today we have an answer to the webcam dilemma with an array of USB connected PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras, allowing you to effectively use web and cloud based videoconferencing in meeting spaces of all sizes. This abundance creates a new problem for the user. “Which camera is right for my needs?” 

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