When I’m streaming on Twitch, I like to play a variety of games. Some games are really best played in handheld mode, and I once had lofty goals of doing some arts and crafts streams. But these content ideas required a thing that I didn’t have – an overhead camera.
There are lots of ways to set up an overhead camera. Many people opt for a normal DSLR or webcam on some kind of mounted rig. That’s probably the best way to achieve the overhead camera, but it takes up a lot of space, and could require a costly camera purchase. My home studio doesn't have a ton of space, so I wanted to think outside the box for a solution.
This brought me to Amazon, searching for some kind of smaller option. It turns out that due to the pandemic forcing teachers to work remotely, there had been an influx of smaller companies coming out with overhead cams intended as a ‘document camera’ for use with a projector at school, except connected to a computer via USB instead. I found the INSWAN INS-1 and thought that it might suit my needs just fine!
This compact little overhead cam is a foldable 8MP digital camera with a multi-joint boom arm that allows for a variety of angles. It also includes an Auto Focus button, and an LED light with adjustable brightness. The product page says it also has a microphone, but I have not used that feature. The biggest limit is the viewable shooting area, which is about 15×11 inches at maximum. For a document camera, that’s as big as it needs to be. But I was able to make it work for my projects as well!
I love the small size of this item, and it’s foldability makes it easy to stow away when not in use. The USB cord is kind of short (about 2 feet), but it’s long enough that I can place this camera on a table next to my desk and still plug it into the laptop easily. At the time of writing this, the INSWAN INS-1 was priced at $99, which I think is a fair price for a decent pixel resolution and built in boom. It’s very easy to use, I was able to plug it in and start using it right away on my PC. There is a slight lag when using this camera with my Streamlabs OBS software, but it wasn't a serious issue for the viewers.
I think the INSWAN INS-1 a very reasonable option for anyone doing sketches or crafting something with their hands. You don’t have a ton of space to work with, so keep that in mind when making your purchase. I will admit that I used this camera recently to do a video chat tarot reading for my friend, and the viewing area was not big enough to see all of the cards.
If you want to see the camera in action, check out this unedited clip from my Twitch livestream when I unboxed and did a quick demo of the Super Mario Game & Watch! (Warning: I curse like a sailor when I play Super Mario!!)
Do you have an overhead camera that you recommend? Let me know in the comments!