Say Cheese! Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 Adds Autofocus And More Sweet Upgrades

camera module 3
The Raspberry Pi is by far the most well-known single-board computer kit thanks in part to its vast array of accessories. The first official add-on was the original camera module, launched in 2013. The foundation has released a few more cameras over the years, but it has been seven years since a new one has arrived. That changes today with the release of the Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3.

As with past Raspberry Pi camera sensors, the foundation worked with Sony on the new module. It's based on the IMX708, an 11.9MP sensor (4608×2592 resolution) with 1.4μm pixel pitch. It may not compete with the camera on your phone, but the 16:9 ratio allows the Raspberry Pi to capture high-definition video using the entire sensor area. The larger pixels also offer better light sensitivity. There are two different lens options; a standard version with a 66-degree field of view (FoV) and a wide-angle option with a 102-degree FoV.

The latest camera module also includes two blockbuster features that will make it much more capable: autofocus and HDR. Before now, all Raspberry Pi cameras had fixed focus, which made it tough to take clear photos of close-up objects. The Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) even allows the sensor to run autofocus continuously during video recording. The addition of HDR (high dynamic range) is a staple of modern smartphone photography because it helps even out areas of high and low lighting in a frame to bring out more detail.

The standard Camera Module 3 will retail for $25, the same price as the previous generation cameras. It's available in normal and infrared versions, and the same is true of the wide-angle lens. However, these modules increase in price to $35. The new camera will work with all Raspberry Pi boards except the 2016 Zero and the Raspberry Pi 400.

The Camera Module 3 is available at the typical Raspberry Pi vendors like Adafruit and CanaKit, with shipping dates spread across the next few weeks. However, you'll have a much harder time getting your hands on a Raspberry Pi if you don't already have one. The chip shortage has hit single-board computers hard, and as a result, most listings are still far above retail. The Raspberry Pi 4 should cost as little as $25, but you're looking at more like $100 right now if you can even find it in stock.