rkinch wrote:Or maybe they want latitude to slipstream whatever optics they have on hand at the last minute. In any case, such loose characterizations make serious applications impossible, unless you want to refit with custom optics.
Personally, I suspect this is the case. As far as I know, like the R-Pi itself, this camera board is designed for and provided to the educational market- and whoever else finds it useful. If you can find commercial or technical applications for it, so much the better, but it's up to you to make it work. I believe the camera module is made for the mobile phone market. Do cheap cellphones typically specify an exact focal length? Perhaps they do, but it seems no one at the foundation even knew what the focal length on their camera was (at least they have never said), suggesting to me it is not specified. But I am sure all parties have agreed on a price, and I daresay the vendor will use the cheapest available options to fulfill the contract.
In other words, yes it is a sophisticated board-level camera, but also it is built to a price, and to some unknown specification which may not include the parameters you expect from a device 10x or 100x as expensive. Actually I can be more precise: it is a sophisticated sensor chip
from OmniVision in Santa Clara California, attached to some unknown lens housing & lens, mounted on a PCB designed & tested by the RPi Foundation team in Cambridge, and assembled by Sony Pencoed in Wales.