Messing About with the @Raspberry_Pi HQ Camera

I’ve had the Raspberry Pi HQ camera for a couple of weeks now – I confess I ordered one the minute I saw the announcement! While I waited for the parcel to arrive I busied myself making a home for it, in an old Merlin handheld game.

The 1979 Merlin Pi

The idea was that the case would be all finished by the time the new camera arrived, ready to just slot it in and start experimenting, without having too many cables getting in the way.

Showing off the lens and tripod mount

This turned out to be a pretty good strategy – especially including a touchscreen display. I picked up the Hyperpixel 4″ screen during last year’s #YarrBooty shenanegans, and it’s so useful in this build.

It didn’t take long to set up the camera – I went with the 6mm lens and spent a while trying very hard to focus it with the adaptor in place (you don’t need the adaptor with this one, rtm). After that though we were in business on the workbench! First pic below.

First picture taken with the HQ camera

The touchscreen soon proved very useful – you can’t wildly point & shoot with the HQ camera and expect great results, you need to take the time to focus the lens properly, and having an on-board screen made this much easier. An alternative would be to use a connected HDMI monitor or use Real VNC (enable “Direct Capture” in settings) to have a remote view.

GuiZero works well for selecting camera modes

Once I’d got a feel for the camera I set up a little touch user interface using GuiZero , so that I could select either video or still capture while out & about (well, in the garden at least). I also added in a “focus” option, which just displays the camera preview for 15 seconds, without saving. I found this really useful for getting the focus just right before recording/capturing. I also found that putting a piece of Lego in the frame helped me get the focus sharp when looking through the small screen in bright sunlight.

I’ve included a couple of my favourite images so far below – it’s a very different mindset for me, to spend time thinking about focus & exposure rather than just blazing away (I’ve never used a “proper” camera), but I enjoy the process and it’s satisfying when a nice pic comes out. I’ve also tried some “camera-trap” style nature videos but the shiny red Merlin case and leggy tripod are pretty conspicuous and seem to have frightened off the wildlife so far.

This frog stayed still just long enough for me to focus properly
Lockdown cake delivery from the local cafe
Prowling the garden

There’s certainly a lot still to learn, which I love, and I’m looking forward to a rummage around the camera stalls at the car boot some day to see if I can find different lenses to try. The HQ camera is undoubtedly a huge step up in quality, but is so different in its application that it’s definitely a welcome addition to, rather than a total replacement for, the V2 camera.

I’m continuing to tweak the Merlin Pi and there’ll be a full write-up and video released in the next week or two.