Raspberry Pi has just announced a high quality camera for just $50. Is this product about to revolutionize the world of photography?

For those not familiar with Raspberry Pi the company produces small single board computers that look like nothing more than a circuit board. The reason they are so popular is that they can be easily programmed and adapted to become the brain of virtually any electronic device you can dream up. Everything from retro arcade machines to life-saving ventilators has taken advantage of these tiny computers in the past. Enter stage left is the companies newest camera module which they hope will open up a world of camera-related possibilities on the platform.

Features include:

  • Sony IMX477R stacked, back-illuminated sensor, 12.3 megapixels, 7.9 mm sensor diagonal, 1.55 μm × 1.55 μm pixel size
  • Ouput: RAW12/10/8, COMP8
  • Back focus: Adjustable (12.5 mm–22.4 mm)
  • Lens standards: C-mount, CS-mount (C-CS adapter included)
  • IR cut filter: Integrated
  • Tripod mount: 1/4”-20

Raspberry Pi expects people to use a wide variety of lenses with this module but have also released a 6 mm CS‑mount lens at $25, and a 16 mm C-mount lens priced at $50 to help get users started. What’s good news for us photographers is that third-party adapters are available from a wide variety of lens standards to the CS-mount their camera uses. This means that it will be possible to connect any lens that meets the back focus requirements of this module.

The big thing that excites me about this release is the potential this product has for innovation in photography. The accessible price point and the open source nature of Raspberry Pi is the perfect storm for interesting creations to be realized. With a little bit of coding know-how and some easily accessible electronic components, the possibilities are endless. Maybe we’ll see people building their own camera systems and giving the big names in our industry a run for their money. I don’t think it will be long before we start seeing people retrofitting these inside old film cameras for example.

I know many of you will stick your noses up at the 12.3 megapixel sensor but like any technology, the specs will only improve with time. The exciting thing to remember is that products like this make camera development more accessible than it ever has been before. This can only be a good thing for accelerating camera advancements going forward. 

Would you buy one of these cameras from Raspberry Pi? Do you have any interesting ideas on how you would use one? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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