Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera – The cheapest and most versatile camera money can buy?

An interchangeable lens camera that can be made to whatever you want it to, for $50? Some mistake, surely? Nope, read on to learn all about the new Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera.

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Raspberry Pi’s previous cameras have spawned all sorts of great DIY projects, but the new Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera gives would-be project developers the chance to use interchangeable lenses.

The new camera module is available now for $50, with C-mount lenses starting at $25. Camera module’s aren’t new to the company. It had previously released a camera board in 2013 based around the Omnivision OV5647 sensor, which produced a ‘whopping’ 5-megapixels. This was followed quickly by the Pi NoIR board, which was sensitive to IR.

It’s easy to mock the low resolution now, but the board was put to use performing all sorts of highly useful tasks, such as plant health monitoring from drones. The board was discontinued in 2015, but was replaced in 2016 by a new 8-megapixel board, which used a Sony IMX219 sensor. It was popular, selling over 1.7 million units worldwide.

However, these boards had a problem. They were limited by fixed focus, and the sensors were absolutely tiny, so the performance wasn’t exactly stellar if you wanted to put them to use for, well, actual photography or video.

Enter the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

The new Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera takes things to a new level, offering the type of versatility that the system’s developer community will likely find some very clever uses for. The use of C and CS mount lenses, which are commonly found in security cameras, means that there will be a lot of choice in how to capture imagery at an incredibly affordable price.

Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera with C and CS Mount lenses
Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera with the two C and CS Mount lenses that are available from resellers at launch. Image: Raspberry Pi.

The new module ramps up the resolution to 12.3 megapixels, using a back illuminated Sony IMX477 sensor. This has double the pixel area of the previous one at a 1.55μm pixel size. There’s even an integrated back focus adjustment ring and tripod mount.

To go along with the release, the company has also printed a new Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide, which will give users all sorts of inspiration for how to use it. This is also available for free as a PDF download.

The module is compatible with pretty much all Raspberry Pi models, including the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B. The company notes that some of the very early boards from 2016 lack a camera connector, and some Zero users need the same adaptor FPC that is used with Camera Module v2.

In order to get people started, Approved Resellers will have a 6mm CS-mount lens and a 16mm C-mount lens available from launch, priced at $25 and $50 respectively.

So what’s it good for?

The limit is your imagination. It could be used as a high quality triggered wildlife camera, or for a smart doorbell, stop motion animation, a long term timelapse station. It’s tiny form factor means that it can be made to fit into spaces normal cameras can’t, and image quality can be kept relatively high. This image, for example, was taken by the camera.

Watch the video below for a full summary, or visit Raspberry Pi’s website. The new High Quality Camera Module gets the Vibliotech seal of approval. It wants one. 

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