Raspberry Pi has announced Camera Module 3, a new series of camera systems designed for use with the company’s line of compact DIY computers. There are four different variants of the Camera Module 3, each of which now have autofocus, improved resolution, HDR capture and more.
The Camera Module 3 is available in both a standard field-of-view (FOV) version with a 29mm equivalent focal length and a wide FOV option with a 17mm equivalent focal length. That comes out to a 66-degree horizontal FOV for the standard model and 102-degree horizontal FOV for the wide model. Each of these models is available in visible-light and infrared-sensitive variants, making for four total models.
|Normal FOV module. Image by Raspberry Pi.||Wide FOV module. Image by Raspberry Pi.|
At the heart of each Camera Module 3 is Sony’s 12MP (4608x2592px) Type 1/2.43 (5.6 x 4.2mm) IMX708 image sensor – the same found in the ultrawide camera module in Oppo’s Find X2 smartphone. The module also has a 3MP HDR mode that uses the sensor’s Quad Bayer technology to capture multiple exposures at the same time and merge them together for optimal dynamic range, even in high-contrast scenes.
|An illustration from Sony showing how its HDR technology works in its mobile image sensors.|
Video can also be recorded at 1080/50p, 720/100p and 480/120p. While this is limited, there have been hacks in the past to get even higher framerate video from past Raspberry Pi Camera Modules, so it’s likely possible we’ll see DIY hackers get even better video performance from Camera Module 3 in the future.
Also new to Camera Module 3 units is autofocus. The lens assembly inside the camera module uses voice-coil actuators to focus the camera on the subject. By default, Raspberry Pi says the sensor is tuned to focus on the middle of the scene, but DIY creators should be able to implement various autofocus modes should it be required. Below is a demonstration video of the autofocus performance in action:
Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) is used by default, but Raspberry Pi says the camera will fall back to the company’s Contrast Detection Autofocus (CDAF) algorithm ‘if a high-confidence PDAF result is not available.’ The minimum focusing distance is listed at 10cm for the standard Camera Module 3 and 5cm for the Camera Module 3 Wide.
|A comparison chart showing the specifications for each of Raspberry Pi’s camera modules.|
The Camera Module 3 is compatible with all Raspberry Pi computers with CSI connectors, with the exception of the Raspberry Pi 400 and the 2016 version of the Raspberry Pi Zero. Mounting hole positions and dimensions are the same as the Camera Module 2, but due to repositioning the sensor module, the Camera Module 3 won’t work with the camera lid for the Raspberry Pi Zero Case.
Raspberry Pi says Camera Module 3 is compatible with the libcamera software environment and the libcamera-based Picamera2 beta in Raspberry Pi OS Bullsye. Full support documents for the hardware and software can be found on Raspberry Pi’s website.
Both standard FOV Camera Module 3 units retail for $25, while the wide FOV Camera Module 3 models cost $10 more, due to the more complicated lens array used.