RoadTest: Pi NoIR and Catch Santa Challenge
Evaluation Type: Independent Products
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Pi Camera
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Figuring out what the blue square is meant for.
I recently received my Pi NoIR as part of the “Santa Catcher” kit. It wasn’t long before I started playing with it. This is my first Roadtest review, I hope it will be useful to you in some way.
The Pi NoIR (No InfraRed) is the second camera board made specifically for the Raspberry Pi. The only difference compared to the original camera is that the infrared filter has been removed.
The camera can also easily be distinguished from the original by its black PCB (compared to green for the original)
Just like the Pi Camera, the Pi NoIR, with its 5 megapixel resolution and fixed focus, is capable of:
The Pi NoIR box contained three items:
The instructions cover the physical installation of the camera board. I found the instructions to be extremely clear, even for someone not having installed a camera board for the Pi before.
The camera, together with the flat cable, were inside an antistatic bag.
Finally, there was also a small square of blue translucent plastic. Nothing was mentioned about it in the instructions or anywhere else.
I started searching online, and found this (http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/5146) article on raspberrypi.org which explains the purpose of the blue square.
From what I understood, it serves as an extra filter meant to filter out visible red light, allowing to register only near-infrared light on the red channel.
Some possible applications for the filter:
I’m sure there are other applications for this filter, but perhaps not something I would immediately use it for.
Using the clear set of instructions included in the box, I connected the camera board to the RaspberryPi. Straightforward and easy.
Next was the software.
The camera board needs to be enabled using the “Raspberry Pi Software Configuration Tool”: via command line, use sudo raspi-config
A blue screen appears with a menu providing some options. One of the options is “Enable Camera”.
I enabled the camera using the menu option and rebooted the pi.
Raspberry Pi Software Configuration Tool
This concluded the installation, both hardware and software, of the camera. Again, straightforward and easy.
With both hardware and software ready, it was time to take some pictures.
In order to test everything is functioning, I executed following command: raspistill -o image.jpg
This will created a file called image.jpg in the current folder, with a default resolution of 2592 × 1944.
A full list of parameters and command examples of the RaspiCam applications can be found here: https://github.com/raspberrypi/userland/blob/master/host_applications/linux/apps/raspicam/README.md
To see how long taking a picture took, I extended the command to report the date immediately before and after taking the picture:
pi@santaCatcher ~ $ date ; raspistill -o image.jpg ; date
Fri Dec 20 09:47:09 UTC 2013
Fri Dec 20 09:47:15 UTC 2013
Taking the picture and saving it to file takes approximately 6 seconds. I made multiple attempts and the timing results were all consistent.
Here’s a comparison of the output of above test using the the “normal” Pi Camera, the Pi NoIR and the Pi NoIR with the blue piece of plastic, all shot through the window:
Standard Pi Camera
Pi NoIR with blue filter
Above pictures were taken on a clear and sunny day.
The next test was to try low light environments and see how differently the Pi NoIR would behave compared to the normal Pi Camera.
I’ve taken following pictures in our baby room with a small night light and some indirect light coming from the hall.
Low light environment test: Pi Camera (left) and Pi NoIR (right)
Above pictures demonstrate that in a low light environment the Pi NoIR manages to get a clearer view compared the Pi Camera.
The next test involves the use of IR light, which should be visible with the Pi NoIR, but not with the Pi Camera.
Unfortunately, I do not have any big IR light sources to play around at this time. I did, however, use my TV’s remote control as a test. I kept one of the buttons of the remote pressed while pointing at my hand and taking a still image.
This was the result:
Infrared light test: Pi Camera (left) and Pi NoIR (right)
The Pi NoIR was able to pick up the IR light from the remote and resulted in my hand being visible in the dark, compared to the normal Pi Camera where nothing is visible because of its IR filter.
The Pi NoIR can quickly be installed and is easy to use.
It is not suited for normal photography/filming purposes, but is useful for different applications/situations, such as:
In the future, I will most likely end up using it as a night photography camera in combination with a bunch of IR LEDs lighting whatever is in front of the camera.
Tags: pi_noir, rpiintermediate , santa_catcher, roadtest
I measured the transmission of the blue filter, http://www.element14.com/community/roadTestReviews/1660.
More interesting information and applications here: http://publiclab.org/wiki/near-infrared-camera.
I did some playing (and yes it 4am)
The default timeout is set to 5 secs.
You can change it with the -t command
ie raspistill -v -t 500 -n -o test.jpg sets it to a timeout of 500mS and no preview.
You can include a preview but at the 500mS setting it comes and goes quick
Doc is dated July 2013 and I know jamesh was doing some additional tweaks inside the GPU up until last month or so.
thanks for the feedback. I tried once more but this time with verbose and no preview options. The timing was the same, here's the output:
pi@santaCatcher ~ $ date; raspistill -v -n -o image.jpeg ; date
Mon Dec 23 12:24:51 UTC 2013
raspistill Camera App v1.3.5
Width 2592, Height 1944, quality 85, filename image.jpeg
Time delay 5000, Raw no
Thumbnail enabled Yes, width 64, height 48, quality 35
Link to latest frame enabled no
Full resolution preview No
Capture method : Single capture
Preview No, Full screen Yes
Preview window 0,0,1024,768
Sharpness 0, Contrast 0, Brightness 50
Saturation 0, ISO 0, Video Stabilisation No, Exposure compensation 0
Exposure Mode 'auto', AWB Mode 'auto', Image Effect 'none'
Metering Mode 'average', Colour Effect Enabled No with U = 128, V = 128
Rotation 0, hflip No, vflip No
ROI x 0.000000, y 0.000000, w 1.000000 h 1.000000
Camera component done
Encoder component done
Starting component connection stage
Connecting camera preview port to video render.
Connecting camera stills port to encoder input port
Opening output file image.jpeg
Enabling encoder output port
Starting capture 0
Finished capture 0
Close down completed, all components disconnected, disabled and destroyed
Mon Dec 23 12:24:58 UTC 2013
The step where it reports "Connecting camera stills port to encoder input port" seems to be taking most of the time.
Nice review and good idea showing the differences between the cameras.
I think if you turn off the preview, you may be able to get it cycling faster.
This is a good guide for all the features, plus a few not as well documented.