While waiting anxiously for the release of a 5-megapixel camera module might sound a bit crazy, for owners of a Raspberry Pi, it couldn't come soon enough. For those in the UK, the wait is finally over as retailers opened up their virtual doors today and Pi camera boards started flying off the warehouse shelves.

The Pi camera board has tiny 20 x 25 x 10 mm (0.78 x 0.98 x 0.39 in) dimensions and tips the scales at just over 3 g (0.1 oz). The fixed-focus module features a 5-megapixel Omnivision 5647 sensor that's capable of capturing 2592 x 1944 pixel resolution stills, as well as recording Full HD video at 30 frames per second. There's also support for 720p and 480p if you're more concerned with storage space than quality.

As any recipient of a pre-release module will tell you, the new Pi board is not exactly plug and play. When you do plug it into the 15-pin MIPI camera serial interface connector S5 on your A or B Raspberry Pi, it's not just going to work straight off the bat. You'll also need your RasPi to be connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse before checking that you're running the latest version of the Raspbian OS. If not, you'll need to get online for an upgrade. After that's taken care of, the camera module will need to be enabled. Only then will you be able to try and grab your first still or video.

I say "try" because using the camera isn't quite as simple as pressing a shutter release. Not yet at any rate. It probably won't be too long before community members are sharing easy-to-use or automated camera builds, but for the moment, a terminal window will need to be opened and some command lines typed in. The rapistill application allows for capture of images, while rapivid is used for video. The source link offers example command lines and links to more detailed operating information.

The Pi camera board is available now for under £20 (about $US30), though actual retail pricing appears to vary slightly from site to site (CPC/Farnell is currently showing £19.87, while RS Components has it for £19.24).

Source: Raspberry Pi