Raspberry Pi reveals this new $50 high-quality Pi camera with interchangeable lenses

The High Quality Camera can turn your Raspberry Pi B into a driveway monitor that automatically reads license plates.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera with interchangeable telephoto and wide-angle lenses. 

The RPi HQ Camera is available today for $50 from Raspberry Pi distributors. In the US, Chicago Electronics Distributors is selling the Pi HQ Camera Telephoto Lens for $50. It's got a 10-megapixel resolution with 16mm focal length and F1. 4-16 aperture. 

The Pi HQ wide-angle lens costs $25 and has a 3MP resolution with a 6mm focal length and F1.2 aperture. The lenses are required for the Pi HQ Camera to take photos and video. 

SEE: Six in-demand programming languages: Getting started (free PDF)

But buying the camera kit at a minimum of $75 means the add-on would cost at least twice as much as the $35 2GB Raspberry Pi 4. 

The HQ Camera is an alternative to the $25 Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2, which has a fixed-focus lens that takes shots at an 8MP resolution. 

The HQ Camera includes a circuit board with a 12.3MP Sony IMX477 back-illuminated sensor, an FPC cable for connecting to the Raspberry Pi Model B 1 through to 4, an aluminum lens mount with a tripod mount, a focus adjustment ring, and a C- to CS-mount adapter.

"We expect that over time people will use quite a wide variety of lenses, but for starters our Approved Resellers will be offering a couple of options: a 6mm CS‑mount lens at $25, and a very shiny 16mm C-mount lens priced at $50," said Raspberry Pi Foundation senior principal engineer, Simon Martin. 

Martin says the HQ Camera is designed to address several shortcomings in fixed-focus modules, chiefly that they can't be switched. 

"Versatile though they are, there are limitations to mobile phone-type fixed-focus modules. The sensors themselves are relatively small, which translates into a lower signal-to-noise ratio and poorer low-light performance; and of course there is no option to replace the lens assembly with a more expensive one, or one with different optical properties," said Martin. 

Raspberry Pi Press has also published a new 132-page official camera guide for the HQ Camera, which explains how to turn a Raspberry Pi into a powerful camera that can take stills and video footage. 

One interesting application is the Car Spy Pi, which explains how to use the HQ Camera and Raspberry Pi with open-source automatic number-plate recognition software. 

Users could, for example, set it up in a waterproof enclosure on a wall outside the house and aim the HQ Camera at the driveway to automatically recognize vehicles arriving in it.

SEE: Raspberry Pi sales jump: Here's why the tiny computer's in demand in coronavirus crisis

The guide also has instructions for accessing the camera in Python programs rather than the command line, which can be done using the built-in Raspbian picamera library. 

Other application examples include building a Minecraft photo booth, a wildlife camera, an underwater camera, a smart door with a video door bell, and a home security camera. The book costs £10 ($12.50), but the free PDF is available for from The MagPi magazine website.    


The HQ Camera includes a circuit board with a 12.3MP Sony IMX477 back-illuminated sensor.  

Image: The Raspberry Pi Foundation

Approved Resellers will be offering a 6mm CS‑mount lens at $25 and a 16mm C-mount lens at $50.  

Image: The Raspberry Pi Foundation

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