Raspberry Pi launches 12MP camera module with autofocus

Raspberry Pi launches 12MP camera module with autofocus

Almost 10 years after the introduction of its first camera module, Raspberry Pi this week launched Camera Module 3.

Available in four variants(Opens in a new window), the tiny technology promises higher resolution, bigger pixels and more field of view options than previous iterations. It also has powered autofocus, high dynamic range and compatibility with all Raspberry Pi computers (minus the Raspberry Pi 400 and 2016 Zero).

The original camera module, released in May 2013, was the Raspberry Pi’s first official single board computer (SBC) accessory; capable of producing 640 x 480 pixel, 720p and 1080p video, it was soon followed by a NoIR infrared-sensitive form. Three years later, the UK Raspberry Pi Foundation unveiled the Camera Module 2 – an 8MP shooter that uses a Sony IMX219 sensor, and in 2020 it released a 12.3MP high-quality camera with support for C and CS mount lenses.

“But time and CMOS image sensor technology move on,” says Raspberry Pi Trading Manager Eben Upton(Opens in a new window). The update includes options that are sensitive to visible light and infrared, with either standard or wide field of view (FoV). “And instead of the fixed-focus optics of its predecessors, Camera Module 3 provides powered autofocus – as many of you have been asking for, so you can take sharp pictures of objects from around 5cm out to infinity,” he says.

The latest model uses Sony’s back-illuminated IMX708 sensor for 12 megapixel resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, a larger and more sensitive pixel design and support for HDR imaging. In addition, it moves away from the Raspberry Pi’s previous fixed-focus optics, allowing the lens to shift back and forth relative to the sensor until a selected area (the center, by default) is optimally focused – even while recording video.

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The cherry on top (according to Upton) is high dynamic range. The imaging technique simultaneously captures multiple images of the same scene, but with different exposures, and combines them to create one image with the most balanced lighting.

Standard FoV Camera Module 3 variants are now on sale from authorized resellers for $25; the wide-angle options are priced at $35. Raspberry Pi also launched a version of the high-quality camera with a built-in M12 mount, available for $50.

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