Camera module! (And a picture of JamesH)


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by Paul Jurczak » Sat May 19, 2012 7:45 pm
Can we have four mounting holes in camera PCB, one in each corner?
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by cowpat » Sat May 19, 2012 8:04 pm
Dear Santa,

I'm currently using a microsoft lifecam cinema, but I've ripped off the autofocus lens and the IR filter and replaced them with a 12/0.5mm thread board camera lens - 'S' mount I believe. If I could do that to the RPi module i'd be a happy man - but my dream module would obviously just have a board camera lens on it.

I'd love mounting holes too.
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by Gert van Loo » Sat May 19, 2012 9:07 pm
Paul Jurczak wrote:Can we have four mounting holes in camera PCB, one in each corner?


I did not have much space but I did learn from the Pi. The prototype has two 2mm holes in diagonal corners.
Screen shot from PCB: (The PCB is 25x25 mm)
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by JeremyF » Sat May 19, 2012 9:13 pm
Is this camera at all related to the one found on USB-stick sized RasPi prototype?Image
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by jamesh » Sat May 19, 2012 9:40 pm
In answer to some post above looking for the ability to change settings, there are a number of features already in the software that allow you to:

Change white balance (to one of a set of standard values, very much like a standard compact camera)
Change ISO (gain control)
Change contrast
Change sharpness
Change colour tones (e.g. sepia, B&W etc)
And other stuff...

In fact, many (or more) of the setting you would find on a pretty state of the art compact camera.

The caveat is that at the moment, this is all GPU level stuff so it needs to be exported to Linux. It's all accessible via OpenMAX, which is horrible. So I think some sort of overriding library might be useful to help people use it all.
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by reggie » Sun May 20, 2012 1:55 am
James, can you tell us what the lowest frame rate you can get out of the camera is? Is it possible to affect which stages of post processing the image goes through before the user gets their claws on it? Is it possible to do stills/long exposure images with the unit?


I'm also interested in having the IR filter removed, in general I've seen the ir filter on the lens and not the sensor itself with webcams, so we might get lucky if we can seperate the lens from the board or it's holder and find a filterless sensor underneath. As far as I am concerned for my project, you can leave the lens section off the board completely, I just need a bare sensor :)
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by jbeale » Sun May 20, 2012 5:13 am
any camera that gives you remotely reasonable color rendition will have an IR-cut filter in it, there is no way to avoid that I know of. Some Sony camcorders have a "night-shot" mode which mechanically removes the IR filter from the optical path for enhanced sensitivity in low light (along with an IR LED illuminator). Other than that, to get reasonable IR response you usually need a B/W camera or do some surgery on your color camera. There is a small aftermarket business modifying SLR cameras to remove the IR-cut filter, for amateur astronomers.
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by morphy_richards » Sun May 20, 2012 8:35 am
Would it be possible to use two of these cameras with one Pi? (To allow stereo machine vision)
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by freekeys » Sun May 20, 2012 10:14 am
I'm completely new to all of this, but what is the advantage of this compared with a USB connected camera/webcam?
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by jamesh » Sun May 20, 2012 10:15 am
reggie wrote:James, can you tell us what the lowest frame rate you can get out of the camera is? Is it possible to affect which stages of post processing the image goes through before the user gets their claws on it? Is it possible to do stills/long exposure images with the unit?


I'm also interested in having the IR filter removed, in general I've seen the ir filter on the lens and not the sensor itself with webcams, so we might get lucky if we can seperate the lens from the board or it's holder and find a filterless sensor underneath. As far as I am concerned for my project, you can leave the lens section off the board completely, I just need a bare sensor :)


We have modded software on a particular camera phone that can get down to a 2.7s exposure. However, these sensors (in fact most sensors) get a bit noisy at these sorts of speeds, so anything slower than that is unusable.

Our current implementation of H264 can get as low as 1fps.

You cannot really change the processing the ISP does without access to the GPU.

The camera datasheet will probably be available but entirely useless to anyone anyway, as the GPU controls the camera, not the Arm, so there is no direct access to it.

You will be able to use the camera in stills or video mode, and you will be able to specify the output resolution in both modes. (Usually to a subset of common output resolutions)
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by jamesh » Sun May 20, 2012 10:16 am
freekeys wrote:I'm completely new to all of this, but what is the advantage of this compared with a USB connected camera/webcam?


Quality and speed. This camera can do 1080p30 video recording, or upto 14MP stills at pretty good quality. Webcams cannot. By a long way.
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by jamesh » Sun May 20, 2012 10:17 am
morphy_richards wrote:Would it be possible to use two of these cameras with one Pi? (To allow stereo machine vision)


No, we only export one CSI interface on the Raspi.
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by Gert van Loo » Sun May 20, 2012 10:36 am
morphy_richards wrote:Would it be possible to use two of these cameras with one Pi? (To allow stereo machine vision)


Alas not! The BCM2835 has two CSI interfaces so the device can do it. But due to cost pressure we have brought only one CSI interface out and then only 2 of the 4 lanes. So you are limited to CSI cameras with max. 2 lanes and max ~1Gbit/sec per lane.

[post edit: Did not see that James had answered that one already]
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by Mike Lake » Sun May 20, 2012 12:04 pm
Gert/James

I am sure you will have some decent clout with image sensor manufacturers (like Pixart etc.) because you will shift a mountain of camera modules for the RPi. I am certain one of those manufacturers would like to be the "RPi preferred supplier."

There will be many people who will want to use the camera module "as supplied" and many more who want to do their own PCBs using the same image sensor chip (for whatever reason). They may wish to pre-process the image data before passing it to the RPi in a different way than through the CSI port. Image sensors are not just for taking pretty pictures.

So, your clout could result in not only a module but also parts that others could use to take the RPi into totally new areas.

That, of course, brings me back to getting rid of the IR blocking filter. If a filter is required in the "as supplied" module (why?) then it can be between the sensor and the lens (or even integrated with the lens) - unless you are going for a sensor/lens combination which cannot be separated. Please don't go down that road if you can avoid it - it slams yet more doors.

So, maybe it is time to use your purchasing muscle, potential user base and fantastic global market reaction to twist some arms with the image sensor manufacturers. You are a force to be reckoned with - so don't hesitate to use that force.
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by hippy » Sun May 20, 2012 1:39 pm
Mike Lake wrote:I am sure you will have some decent clout with image sensor manufacturers (like Pixart etc.) because you will shift a mountain of camera modules for the RPi.


Is that really going to be the case ? I don't really see a compelling reason for the camera module for most R-Pi users. The R-Pi isn't designed as a portable product ( for all its low power it still requires a considerable supply current ) and a traditional USB webcam would likely suit most use cases.

I'm not saying there isn't a use for it, and if the price is $10 they may well be bought as a mere commodity item, useful or not. Perhaps someone could enlighten me as how they will be useful for most R-Pi owners ?
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by Gert van Loo » Sun May 20, 2012 1:50 pm
Mike, If you read the 'big' post I wrote in the section from the current front page you will find that we will not talk to camera vendors. We will select the camera from the set which we have used and which have been tuned. In the same post I explain why you can not connect your own camera. Not mentioned there but elsewhere is the fact that you will not have access to the GPU SW to interface your own camera.
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by Mike Lake » Sun May 20, 2012 2:08 pm
Gert

I can find Liz's article on the News home page but I can't find a "big post". I'm the first to admit that it is probably me lost in News, Forums and Wikis. Do you have a link?

Please don't take this as a criticism because I am in awe at the amount of work you guys have put in. (Been there, done that, full of respect.)

Obviously I, and others, will be disappointed on three fronts:

1) that, despite it's ever-growing clout, the RPi Foundation won't engage with sensor manufacturers to get exactly what it wants,

2) that we will not be able to connect other image sensors,

3) that development data at this level will not be open.

Will we have similar constrains when it comes to DSI displays?
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by Gert van Loo » Sun May 20, 2012 2:10 pm
hippy wrote:....
Is that really going to be the case ? I don't really see a compelling reason for the camera module for most R-Pi users. The R-Pi isn't designed as a portable product ( for all its low power it still requires a considerable supply current ) and a traditional USB webcam would likely suit most use cases.

I'm not saying there isn't a use for it, and if the price is $10 they may well be bought as a mere commodity item, useful or not. Perhaps someone could enlighten me as how they will be useful for most R-Pi owners ?

From the beginning users have asked for a camera. So I assume they must have an idea what they want to use it for. The camera module is (one of) the first because it is so simple as 99% of what you need for a camera is already on the Raspi board. In fact if we mount the camera on the main Raspi board we would lose 85% of the components now on the adapter.
Example: I have a colleague at work wants to have two simple security camera's. Take a Raspi + camera module and feed the power over the unused Ethernet cables: Done. An HD security camera for around $50-$60. HD security camera are waaay past that price in the shops.
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by reggie » Sun May 20, 2012 2:11 pm
jamesh wrote:
reggie wrote:James, can you tell us what the lowest frame rate you can get out of the camera is? Is it possible to affect which stages of post processing the image goes through before the user gets their claws on it? Is it possible to do stills/long exposure images with the unit?


I'm also interested in having the IR filter removed, in general I've seen the ir filter on the lens and not the sensor itself with webcams, so we might get lucky if we can seperate the lens from the board or it's holder and find a filterless sensor underneath. As far as I am concerned for my project, you can leave the lens section off the board completely, I just need a bare sensor :)


We have modded software on a particular camera phone that can get down to a 2.7s exposure. However, these sensors (in fact most sensors) get a bit noisy at these sorts of speeds, so anything slower than that is unusable.

Our current implementation of H264 can get as low as 1fps.

You cannot really change the processing the ISP does without access to the GPU.

The camera datasheet will probably be available but entirely useless to anyone anyway, as the GPU controls the camera, not the Arm, so there is no direct access to it.

You will be able to use the camera in stills or video mode, and you will be able to specify the output resolution in both modes. (Usually to a subset of common output resolutions)
Hi James, noise isn't an issue, it will be mitigated against with post-pre-processing techniques, if that makes sense? Post onboard processing but pre-software based post processing :D

2.7 seconds is a reasonable start, ideally I'd like it open ended but 2seconds would really be my minimum I think. How are you controlling the framerate? It via registers or do you have access to the 'frame transfer/readout pin?

I appreciate that you're using the gpu to control the camera but that doesn't mean to say we won't be presented with a bunch of functions that allow us to tweak stuff at some point in the near future, does it? ;) (why isn't there a hopeful wink icon?).

back to the noise, if all of the gain and awb settings are turned down/off then the noise won't be so much, if there is some kind of sensor amplification control as well, that would help with noise.

Lastly, how is the frame rate controlled to get you down to 2.7seconds exposure? Is it like most webcams where they offer you an enumerated list of available frame rates? It'd be superb if that was the case?

Lastly, can I be really cheeky and ask if you guys wouldn't mind testing the camera with some software for me? http://code.google.com/p/open-phd-guiding/

If you can't, no worries, I appreciate that you're busy.
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by Gert van Loo » Sun May 20, 2012 2:14 pm
Mike Lake wrote:Gert

I can find Liz's article on the News home page but I can't find a "big post". I'm the first to admit that it is probably me lost in News, Forums and Wikis. Do you have a link?

....


Fair enough.
It is here http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/1254#comment-23635.
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by thexman » Sun May 20, 2012 2:26 pm
fantastic work can we just make sure the MP version is higher than mobile phones and the ipad 3 cameras and its a winner i would rather pay for a higher resolution camera than have a cheap camera with poor pictures

just a request keep up the great work.
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by Mike Lake » Sun May 20, 2012 2:30 pm
Gert

Many thanks - found it! Inability to plough through comments shows lack of patience on my part.

As always, there are many ways to skin a cat. (I have two - cats, not ways to skin them.)

There is absolutely nothing to stop anyone using any image sensor at all, doing their own board, preprocessing the data in any way they wish and sending that resulting data to the RPi in any way they wish (USB, GPIO).

Obviously there will be a speed limitation depending on the amount of data that needs to be sent to the RPi.

All that's been closed off, because of the proprietary low level stuff, is the CSI port.

If you do come across anyone making low cost image sensors without IR filters, please let us know - they are few and far between (Omnivision for example) - I and others would be very interested.
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by reggie » Sun May 20, 2012 2:49 pm
There are plenty of sensors out there that don't have IR filters on them. The majority of webcams that I've seen have the ir filter in the lens assembly and not on the sensor itself. canon DSLR cameras have a number of filters and stuff in front of their sensors, the ir filter can be removed with the patience of a saint and judicious use of an exacto knife.

If you have a webcam around anywhere and fancy taking a look, just remove the lens and have a look at the bottom of it, if it's got an ir filter anywhere you will see a red tinge, either on/in the lens assembly or on the sensor.

Here's a sensor without an IR filter:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TC255P-336-24 ... 3f0323f07b

Here's one with:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Hitachi-HDC-1 ... 2c5c0f8f7f

if you look at the sensor with the filter, there is a rubber gasket around the edge, carefully removing that gasket will allow you to remove the IR filter, probably :)
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by Mike Lake » Sun May 20, 2012 2:59 pm
reggie

Thanks for that.

However, the first is an obsolete TI analogue part, the second is a reclaimed Hitachi part.

Volume production digital parts without IR filters are the ones that are hard to source.
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by hippy » Sun May 20, 2012 3:49 pm
Gert van Loo wrote:
hippy wrote:... I don't really see a compelling reason for the camera module for most R-Pi users ...

From the beginning users have asked for a camera. So I assume they must have an idea what they want to use it for.

I'd never assume anything unless they had a convincing answer to the follow-up - Why ? :D

I can see it may have uses as part of an application platform but it seems largely redundant and unnecessary extra cost in pursuing the goal of teaching computing to kids.

In including DSI and CSI the R-Pi looked to be hardware more designed towards a tablet / phone wannabe than for education. Though, as the ability is there on the SoC, adding the connectors has not pushed the price up, I'm not objecting to CSI being there.

Having LCD display capability I can more understand but it has always confounded me that not having something was usually answered by pointing to "it's primary purpose is teaching kids to program", and yet things not needed for that have been included. That and promoting the R-Pi as an application platform has always left me feeling that the educational aspirations were actually just a means to an end. Not that I really care because application platform is what I more care about !

Gert van Loo wrote:An HD security camera for around $50-$60. HD security camera are waaay past that price in the shops.


That's about the only use case I could come up with though processing overheads and bandwidth limitations could be a limiting factor. And, again, it's applications platform use.
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