The Ultimate Guide to Raspberry Pi Camera Projects

The Raspberry Pi is a pretty diverse piece of equipment. Since its creation in 2012, additional modules, updates and hardware have seen it become an essential item for hobbyists, enthusiasts and experts alike. In particular, the Raspberry Pi Camera module, first released in 2013 and the updated V2 in 2016, broadened options in terms of the Raspberry Pi’s capabilities.;

Rather than working with webcams, as was previously the case, the Raspberry Pi Camera module has paved the way for various types of camera projects and experiments. Capable of capturing high definition video and stills photographs, the RPi Camera module is deliberately easy to use for beginners. Similarly, those who are experts in the field and are looking for a new project to expand their knowledge can do just that. From underwater cameras, infrared, photo booths and more, read on to discover more about Raspberry Pi projects you can take on.;

How does the Raspberry Pi Camera Module work?

If you are new to the camera module but are keen to give it a go, we’ll take a closer look at how it works here. The camera module comprises of a 5 megapixel camera or 8 megapixel camera (depending on the version) and lens. Both versions are equipped with infrared and light vision technology.;

Raspberry Pi Camera Software;

You can find the latest models of the Raspberry Pi camera module right here on The Pi Hut website.

Picture formats;

  • JPEG (accelerated);
  • JPEG + RAW
  • GIF
  • BMP
  • PNG
  • YUV420
  • RGB888

Video formats

  • Raw h.264 (accelerated)

Camera Effects;

  • Negative, solarise, sketch, posterise, emboss, whiteboard, blackboard, film, blur, saturation, denoise oil paint, hatch, gpen, pastel, watercolour

Exposure modules;

  • Auto, night, night preview, spotlight, sports, backlight

First, a little about the camera itself. It’s capable of taking 1080p HD photos, and can be controlled programmatically. What’s more, as of November 2018, there are four Raspberry Pi core applications. Two capture images and two record video; their commands are as follows:;

Images

  • Raspistill
  • Raspiyuv;

Videos

  • Raspivid
  • Raspiviyuv

Configuring your Raspberry Pi Camera

Read The Pi Hut’s guide on configuring your Raspberry Pi camera here.;

Otherwise, we’ve broken down the main steps below

  • Make sure your Raspberry Pi is off. If it is live this can damage both the Raspberry Pi and the camera module.;
  • Make sure you yourself are not static (trust us). Simply touch a water tap or radiator – anything that is grounded metal. This effectively ‘discharges’ your body.
  • Connect your Raspberry Pi camera module to the CSI port on your Raspberry Pi (this is the long thin port adjacent to the HDMI socket)
  • Lift the collar on top of the CSI port
  • Slide the ribbon cable of the camera module into the port with the blue side facing the ethernet port
  • Once the cable is seated in the port, press the collar back down carefully and lock the cable into place. Make sure the camera module isn’t sat on anything conductive, such as USB ports or GPIO pins

How to connect your Raspberry Pi Zero;

  • Remove existing camera’s module by gently lifting the collar on the camera module, pulling the cable out.;
  • Insert the wider end of the adaptor cable with the conductors facing in the same direction as the camera’s lens.;
  • Attach the adaptor to the Raspberry Pi Zero W by gently lifting the collar at the edge of the board. Be careful with this! They are more delicate than they might seem.;

TOP TIP:You can get everything you need with The Pi Hut’s Raspberry Pi Zero Essential Kit.;

How to use the Raspberry Pi Camera Module (v2)

The great thing about this module is that it can be configured with most RPi models, including Zero, 1, 2, 3 and 4. What’s more, the capabilities of the module allow for hobbyists and enthusiasts to push the boundaries and experiment with different effects. An improvement on its previous counterpart, with better image quality, colour fidelity and light performance, advanced users as well as beginners can make the most of this feature.;

Check out our tutorial blog post on using Raspberry Pi cameras here.;

We will look at how you can create the below cameras here:;

 

  • Underwater camera
  • Night Vision Camera
  • Wedding Photo Booth
  • Doorbell Camera
  • Motion Detector
  • Facial Recognition
  •  

    Underwater camera

    Turn you Raspberry Pi into an underwater camera by following the steps below. This will allow you to conduct your own biodiversity studies, create time lapses underwater, and provide more visibility for recreational diving purposes.;

    Can be used for;

    • Biodiversity studies;
    • Visibility indicators for recreational diving
    • Long term time lapses

    What you will need

    You can follow these blogs on the best way to set up an underwater Raspberry Pi camera online. There are also online projects for directional control, also.;

    Night vision camera;

    Another project idea for your Raspberry Pi is a night vision camera. The guide we suggest uses a Raspberry Pi Zero. You can find out about how to create this below. To find out how to capture images and real time video in the dark with your Raspberry Pi, read on.;

    Can be used for:

    • Seeing in the dark (2m to 5m)
    • Capture real-time video saved to the camera
    • Capture images and stills

    What you will need

    Software apps and online services

    • Raspberry Pi Raspbian

    Read up on this guide on creating a night vision camera takes you through everything you need to know on night vision cameras.;

    Raspberry Pi Wedding Booth Camera;

    If you are looking for ways to save on the big day, then why not make your own wedding booth camera? There’s a simple build using Raspberry Pi which can take some memorable shots of the day, which you can save to file, to later share with your friends and family. An ideal side project, you can make your wedding stand out with a completely unique wedding photo booth. Discover how to build a Raspberry Pi Wedding Booth camera below.;

    You will need

    • 1 Raspberry Pi
    • 1 SD Card for the raspberry
    • 1 micro USB cable + power adapter 5V and 2A (to power raspberry)
    • 1 Camera module for raspberry
    • 1 USB Hub powered
    • 1 photo printer compatible with Raspbian;
    • 1 massive arcade button 100mm with led
    • 1 12v transformer for button led
    • 1 computer screen (if it's not an HDMI screen you will need an HDMI adapter to plug to Raspberry)
    • 3 spotlights with transformer
    • 1 desk grommet of 80mm to fix the camera module
    • Pieces of wood to make the box
    • All decoration you want to embellish your photo booth;

    This guide will take you through everything you need to know. We’ve broken down the key steps below.

    • Load to OS of Raspberry Pi into the SD card / download Raspbian (What is Raspbian?)
    • Enable the camera module;
    • Prepare Raspbian with all the necessary libraries
    • Wire Arcade Button on Raspberry Pi
    • Import Program from GitHub
    • Make the Box

    Raspberry Pi Doorbell Camera

    This guide below will take you through the steps to make a doorbell camera with your Raspberry Pi. Whether this is for home security, or an extra project to expand your Raspberry Pi knowledge, learn how to make a Raspberry Pi doorbell camera below.;

    Can be used for;

    • Home security;
    • Side project;
    • Expanding skillset

    Another project idea for those wanting to push the boat out with their raspberry Pi projects is trying out this Raspberry Pi Doorbell Camera.

    You will need;

    • Raspberry Pi Zero Wireless
    • Camera Module
    • Raspberry Pi Camera Module
    • RF receiver

    Broken down, here is how this process would work:

    • The doorbell is pushed;
    • The button module transmits 433 MHz RF signal to a receiver, which sounds a chime
    • The RF signal can be freely intercepted & here an RF module attached to a Raspberry Pi is used to intercept the RF signal
    • On receiving the signal, the Pi takes an image using the camera
    • The image can be sent as a mobile notification;

    Motion Detector

    A motion detector is a great bit of kit that can be used for many reasons. Perhaps you’re just looking to catch someone out (be that a family member or friend), or are looking to increase your home security with a burglar detector. Your Raspberry Pi motion detector camera can also be used for wildlife observation. A great device to know how to build, read on to discover how to build a Raspberry Pi motion detector.;

    Can be used for;

    • Burglar detector;
    • Wildlife observation
    • Home surveillance;
    • Other similar projects

    We’ve found this handy guide to get you started.

    You will need:

    To get started with this project, you’ll need a Raspberry Pi, a camera board, and additionally have OpenCV already installed. For this reason, this might be a project for those who are a little more familiar with the world of Raspberry Pi simply due to the complicated nature of the processes. If you’re yet to get configured with Open CV, not to worry as we’ve found this guide which takes you through the processes step by step.;

    Essential steps you need to take include:

    • Installing camera / Raspberry Pi camera board module (it might be worth having a camera housing as well to keep it safe)
    • Enable the camera module (at this point, reboot your Raspberry Pi for it to really take affect);
    • Test out the camera module (Check this is working before you dive into any CV code. This’ll save you time later on trying to work out why it might not be working);

    You will be able to access a single image from your Raspberry Pi using python and open CV.

    Facial Recognition;

    Create your very own facial recognition camera with Raspberry Pi. Whether this be for a hands on project with friends to test your skills, or perhaps to add to your home security, find out how to make this with your Raspberry Pi right here.

    Can be used for

    • Home security;
    • Side projects;

    There is an in depth guide on setting up your Raspberry Pi face recognition camera here. We’ve broken it down into a few key terms below.

    • Gather your faces dataset;
    • Compute your face recognition embeddings
    • Recognise faces in in video streams on your Raspberry Pi;

    You will need

    • Raspberry Pi 3;
    • Raspberry Pi expansion kit;
    • RGB LED module;
    • Infrared PIR Motion Sensor;
    • Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2

    Your Raspberry Pi camera module will open a lot of doors when it comes to expanding your knowledge and skillset on all things Raspberry Pi. Whether you want to take on one of the above Raspberry Pi camera projects of your own, or just want to check out the range of Raspberry Pi camera accessories you can buy, the Pi Hut can help! For more information on all things Raspberry Pi, then head to our website.