New Raspberry Pi camera module is the base for a DIY mirrorless camera

Raspberry Pi’s camera module has allowed do-it-yourselfers to build anything from smart doorbells to webcams. Now, the build-your-own tech organization is offering the tools to construct an interchangeable lens camera. The High Quality Camera is a 12.3-megapixel sensor module that addresses some of the shortcomings of the previous camera module, which had poor resolution and a fixed-focus lens.

The High Quality Camera uses a Sony-made sensor that’s also back-illuminated and larger than the previous module. The design change and bump up in resolution offers a noticeable difference over the earlier 8-megapixel camera, the organization says, including a larger pixel size, which should help it in lower light.

But the big change is the lack of a built-in lens. Instead, the module uses a mount compatible with C- and CS-mount lenses. At launch, approved resellers already offer a 6mm CS-mount lens for $25 and a 16mm C-mount for $50.

Of course, Raspberry Pi is designed for jury-rigging, and someone has already mounted a full-frame Canon lens using a CS-mount adapter — so the possibilities for the interchangeable lens camera module go well beyond the lenses launching now. (Just don’t expect professional-level image quality, as the sensor is still much smaller than those found in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.)

Along with the change to an interchangeable lens, the High Quality Camera module includes a back-focus adjustment ring. While the previous lens had a fixed focus — like a GoPro does, for example — the new, high-end option will allow users to adjust the focus.

The new module is compatible with most Raspberry Pi models, with the exception of some older Zero boards that don’t have the required camera connector and others that need an adapter to connect.

The High Quality Camera isn’t replacing the existing 8-megapixel option with a fixed lens. Both camera modules will continue to be sold, with the lower resolution module serving as the lighter-weight, more budget-friendly choice. The High Quality Camera module lists for $50 while Camera Module V2 sells for about $25.

The new module also launches with a new Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide that walks through different projects and creative effects. The PDF version is free, with a print version available for about $10.

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