We often get the question which camera should I use? Well the answer should be simple: What quality image are you looking to achieve. Unfortunately, as we all know, life is not always as simple.
The first thing you need to consider, what are you expecting from your camera? I have received far too many questions about functionality of the cameras. Does the camera have White Balancing? What noise cancellation is built in? And so on and so on.
The Raspberry Pi cameras do not have any of this built in. You can program most of the functions in yourself, but these cameras are not complete digital cameras, instead think of them as a sensor. How they are used is up to your software.
Now that we know what the camera can not do. Let’s have a look at what they can do.
We can start off with comparing the 3 main official cameras:
|Camera||Still resolution||Sensor resolution||Size|
All of them can record the following video quality:
1080p/30, 720p/60, 480p/90
With the right software the HQ camera can also record at 480p/120
All the cameras connect with the same 15-pin CSI connector. However the Raspberry Pi Zero and the Zero cameras have a smaller size CSI connector. Therefore you will need an adapter to use a standard camera on a RPi Zero and other way around.
This one is also known as the Spy camera, because of its tiny form factor. I would say this would be the greatest advantage of this camera. But don’t get me wrong, the quality is great for the price you pay and the minuscule size.
Spy / Hidden security camera
Low cost learning aid
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has initially officially released two cameras, the five-megapixel v1 version(OmniVision OV5647) in 2014 and the eight-megapixel v2 version(SONY IMX219) in 2016. Camera Module v2 is still available in the market to be purchased, the HQ Camera does not supersede it. Instead, it provides a different tradeoff between price, performance, and size.
As Camera Module v2 has comparative low SNR and poor sensitivity, it is not suitable for taking photos that require high image quality. Also, the fixed focal length leads it not suitable for mobile applications. For this kind of camera, we could use it for day-to-day monitoring.
Build a Video Streaming Camera
Build an affordable crowd size estimator
Build a Raspberry Pi Outdoor Security Camera
Set up a security camera to monitor your home
The High-Quality Camera (HQ Camera for short) can capture higher-resolution images than the standard Camera Module. Unlike the other modules, it doesn’t have a lens already attached. Instead, it can be used with any standard C- or CS-mount lens; 6 mm and 16 mm lenses are available to purchase with the camera to help you get started. Although it has the standard mounting for most popular lenses, you need to keep in mind that the lens you choose needs to be compatible with the high quality of the sensor, not all lenses are. The result will be quite poor quality images and videos.
When considering the HQ camera, the main question you need to ask is: Is the quality requirement in proportion to the price of the larger camera as well as the cost of the lens. There are some use cases where this is really important, but in most cases it simply is not the case. Even image recognition applications work perfectly fine with the V2 counterpart. But is “perfectly fine” good enough for you?
HQ Camera capture higher-resolution images and it supports various lenses, it can be used for professional shooting such as:
Build a wildlife camera
Make a smart door with a video doorbell
Shoot stop-motion videos
At the end of the day, the type of camera you use will be evaluated by the cost of the camera in comparison to the quality requirement. None of the cameras have any extra special functions, this is all exactly the same. And determined by the software. As apposed to the physical sensor.
If you are looking to learn more about Raspberry Pi cameras, check out The Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide