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With these significant updates, Raspberry Pi’s Camera Module 3 is released

Raspberry Pi has introduced a new Raspberry Pi Camera Module, version 3, with four different models starting at $25 and including HDR photography and autofocus.

The Pi High Quality Camera is being released with a mounted variant.

The Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 is the successor to the 2016 Camera Module2, and it has a Sony sensor with 11.9 megapixels (MP) rather than 8.1 MP. There are four different Fields of View (FoV) available for the Camera Module 3, including the default FoV, a wide FoV, a NoIR (infrared sensitive) FoV, and a NoIR Wide FoV.

The standard field-of-view models cost the same $25 as the entry-level Module 2 model but have a broader field of view (66 degrees) in the horizontal plane. Both of the $35 wide-FOV choices have a horizontal FOV of 102 degrees. Even while the wide-FoV models have poorer angular resolution than the Module 2, Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton says there are new uses for them, such as digital panning.

In contrast to its predecessors, the Camera Module 3 is capable of high dynamic range (HDR) imagery and powered focusing. Both of these technologies are standard on modern smartphone cameras.

Module 3’s autofocus allows it to capture clear photographs of things as close as 5mm, which is a significant increase above the “average” images that Modules 1 and 2’s fixed focus lenses were capable of capturing from 1 metre away, as stated by Upton.

Sony’s back-illuminated IMX708 sensor in Camera Module 3 enables HDR, which allows for more natural capturing of light and shadow.

Upton calls high dynamic range (HDR) the “most exciting feature” of Module 3 and explains why it’s so crucial for the new Pi camera attachment. The Module3, like many modern smartphones, captures pictures with different exposures (normal, under, and over) to combine them into one high-quality shot.

“For a scene with both bright and dark regions (one with high dynamic range), there isn’t necessarily a single good choice of exposure time: you’re faced with an invidious choice between blowing out the bright regions or underexposing the dark ones. High-dynamic-range (HDR) sensors like IMX708 tackle this problem by taking multiple simultaneous exposures with different exposure times. We can then select the exposure which best captures the detail in each region of the image, and apply a tone mapping process to compress the dynamic range of the result for display or storage,” explains Upton.

Upton claims that the autofocus system leverages the IMX708’s Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) capabilities, falling back on Raspberry Pi’s Contrast Detection Autofocus (CDAF) algorithm in the absence of a high-confidence PDAF result.

Furthermore, a new version of the Raspberry Pi $50 High Quality Camera with interchangeable telephoto and wide-angle lenses for C and CS-mount standards was released in 2020. In order to connect fisheye lenses, some customers were utilising adapters, but with the new Raspberry Pi model, this is no longer necessary. It’s also $50.

Due to the absence of CSI connections, the Raspberry Pi 400 and the Zero launched in 2016 are the only models that are not compatible with the Camera Module 3. It has the same board size and mounting-hole placements as Module 2. However, the camera lid for the Raspberry Pi Zero Case is not mechanically compatible with it.

Currently, with Raspberry Pi OS Bullseye, the Module 3 can only be used with the libcamera software and the libcamera-based Picamera2 beta.