The newly-launched Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 will inspire some very interesting projects. It’s a 12MP camera with powered autofocus, HDR support, and a 1080p 50FPS video resolution—three things that were absent in previous Pi camera modules. Plus, customers have the option to buy this camera with an ultra-wide FOV or IR-sensitive design.
This is an impressive little module. It sports Sony’s 12MP IMX708 sensor, which is a significant upgrade from the 8MP sensor featured in the Camera Module 2. The maximum video resolution is bumped up to 1080p 50FPS, low-light performance is improved, and HDR support opens the door to “professional” styled photography. (That said, HDR photos from this camera have a 75% smaller resolution than non-HDR images.)
Of course, autofocus is the headlining feature of this camera. In a demonstration video, we can see that the Pi Module 3 has a shockingly fast Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) system. I’m very impressed by this autofocus—it’s a huge step up from the Camera Module 2’s fixed-focus system. (And just for reference, the new autofocus lens can “take crisp images” from around 5cm to infinity. Previous fixed-focus lenses were optimized for infinity focus.)
The standard Camera Module 3 has a 66-degree FOV. But if you want to go wider, you can shell out for the ultra-wide variant of this camera. It offers a 102-degree FOV, which could make it a great option for photography, videography, or a DIY security camera project.
And, oddly enough, you can buy the Camera Module 3 without an IR filter. The Camera Module 3 NoIR uses a black circuit board and should be a good option for a night-vision camera project. That said, the Pi Foundation hasn’t provided any examples of this functionality.
I should note that the previous-generation Camera Module 2 is now six years old. It’s still useful, but its image quality is very outdated. If you want a modern image from a Raspberry Pi camera, you need to buy the new Module 3, the High Quality Camera (which launched in 2020), or a third-party solution, such as the ArduCam Hawk-eye.
The impressive Camera Module 3 costs just $25, but the ultra-wide variant is $35. Interestingly, the NoIR versions of these two cameras cost $25 and $35, respectively. Camera Module 3 is available at approved Raspberry Pi resellers.
Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3
The Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 features a new 12MP sensor with powered autofocus, HDR support, and a maximum resolution of 1080p 50FPS. It comes in normal, ultra-wide, and IR sensitive varieties.