Arducam Unveils Low-Cost 16MP Autofocus Camera Module for the Raspberry Pi

Claims to offer higher resolutions, better image quality, and full autofocus — for just $18 while crowdfunding and $25 after.

Arducam is bringing the fight to the Raspberry Pi Camera Module family with a crowdfunding campaign for a 16-megapixel camera unit with autofocus capability — offering a 40 percent resolution boost over the latest Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera Module.

"The community has been craving autofocus in Pi cameras, and we took the advice," says Arducam of its new module — designed to exactly echo the footprint of the Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2. "It's not just the resolution bump, the 'quality' is way higher than the HQ camera too. With the same camera tuning algorithms from the [Raspberry Pi] Foundation, this module beats the Raspberry Pi HQ Camera in every aspect — sharpness, saturation, exposure, etc."

Those are bold words, which the company is backing up with some impressive sample images and key specifications: The Arducam 16MP Camera Module is built around the Sony IMX519 image sensor, compared to the eight megapixel IMX219 used in the Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2 and the 12.3 megapixel IMX477 used in the Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Module.

It's not just the sensor, though, but the optics: Every model of Raspberry Pi Camera Module to date has been either technically-fixed but adjustable with effort or manual focus. Arducam's twist on the design is full autofocus, from macro to infinity. It's also fully open source, the company promises, as part of its effort to "help push the Raspberry Pi and embedded ML/MV (Machine Learning/Machine Vision) forward."

There's one key area in which the Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Module still stands proud, however: It offers support for interchangeable lenses, making it possible to adapt the device for everything from ultra-wide-angle and macro to telephoto projects. The Arducam 16MP Camera Module, by contrast, has an integrated lens which is not swappable.

Perhaps aware of this, Arducam has opted to launch the camera at a very aggressive price point: The module is set to retail for just $25, with backers of the crowdfunding campaign offered an early-bird discount to drop the price down to a bargain-basement $18. Delivery, meanwhile, is expected to take place in January next year.

Interested parties can learn more, and back the project, on the Kickstarter campaign page now.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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