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.
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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.
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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.