Raspberry Pi upgrades its Camera Module with HDR, autofocus, and more

Raspberry Pi upgrades its Camera Module with HDR, autofocus, and more

Zoom / Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 Variants. Green is standard, black is infrared. And it’s implied that this photo is showing off some of the HDR capabilities of the new camera module 3 itself.

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Raspberry Pis will soon have many more camera-based projects available, as the latest camera module from the single-board computer maker allows for autofocus, high dynamic range, lower-light photos and more .

The Camera Module 3, starting at $25, lets you take “clear images of objects from about 5 cm to infinity,” Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton wrote in a blog post announcement. Standard field-of-view (FoV) camera modules cost $25, while wider FoV models cost $35 for the “more complex and expensive optical stack.”

The sensor comes from Sony and uses a back-illuminated IMX708 that offers a 12-megapixel resolution, larger pixels (1.40μm) and HDR support. Among other improvements from the Camera Module 2 released in 2016, this model allows for finer image detail, 16:9 HD video and better low-light sensitivity. Standard models capture a 66-degree field of view, similar to the previous module’s 62. Wide FoV models capture 102 degrees with a slightly lower angular resolution, but allow for new uses, including digital panning.

A standard FoV shot of Ely, Cambridgeshire, taken with Camera Module 3.

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A wide-angle shot of the same scene, taken using Camera Module 3’s wide-angle model.

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But autofocus is the really big improvement in the Camera Module 3. The lens assembly is mounted on a voice coil actuator, and autofocus relies on either sensor detection or the Pi’s algorithm. The Raspberry Pi showed off the autofocus features in a video demonstration.


Demonstration of the Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3’s autofocus operation capabilities.

In addition to a new small lens module, Raspberry Pi also launched a new variant of its $50 high-quality camera mounting system, which allows users to attach standard high-quality lenses to the Pi. The 2020 version allows C/CS mount lenses, while the new option allows M12.

There’s more to read about the Camera Module 3, including its HDR capability, in the Pi blog post. The module works with any Pi model with a CSI connector, minus the Raspberry Pi 400 and the release version of the Pi Zero. It is supported by the modern, open-source libcamera and Picamera2 beta libraries, not the older, closed-source version of libcamera. And if you don’t have a Raspberry Pi handy for a camera project, there should be more (of several models) coming soon.

Listing image from Raspberry Pi

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