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Raspberry Pi Launches a New Autofocus Camera In 4 Flavors

The Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 and Camera Module 3 NoIR on a table next to a smartphone.
Raspberry Pi Foundation

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 It’s still useful, but its image quality is very outdated.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.


Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »