To put it simply, the videoconference camera uses a chip that converts light and image into a digital image. These chips, one called a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) and another called a Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS), in the camera work to create a digital image in high resolution from the data picked up by the lens on the camera. Think of the chips as the film in the camera that accepts an image and recreates it in a different media. These days, users want to start at a 1080p resolution with their units. Several manufacturers, like Vaddio, offer models with a resolution range from the standard 720p to 1080p.
The camera’s lens, its eye, has to take in large rooms, with wide views and shoot down to a single person, or item on display. And though users have seen zooms as low as 4 power, and regularly a minimum of a 10-power zoom unit, most manufacturers offer a 20 power as standard specification. Polycom’s Eye III begins at 12 power.
Look at the lens aperture opening range numbers. These are the F-stops. The lower the number, the smaller the lens opening and the less light admitted to the sensor; the larger the number, the wider the lens opening, and the more light admitted to the sensor. The opening and light admitted improves views of small items viewed up close, but is not always critical in general open room conferences. How conference planners use the camera determines how much F-stop flexibility they want, if they need any at all. For anyone familiar with SLR cameras, you will appreciate this spec. It tells you how much light the lens will admit each time it opens. The greater the range, the greater the unit’s flexibility in a variety of lighted conditions. And the greater the price.
Test drive your choices. The manufacturers’ spec pages pretty much tell similar stories. For example, the cameras resolutions might vary by as much as 10 power, 10 being the lowest, and a number of them start in the 20 power range. Don’t get caught up in camera-envy. Buy what you need. If most of your videoconferencing is between two people, the 10 power will return all you need.
Test drive your selections. Price does indicate how much you will own. Take a look, and think about how much you’ll need. That’s the best reference you will ever get.