This Raspberry Pi global shutter is useful and very cheap

photo of raspberry pi camera sensor module

It may not offer a ton of megapixels, but Raspberry Pi’s 1.6MP Global Shutter Camera is incredibly cheap for experimenting.

The tiny camera module looks pretty bare bones and offers no more than 1.6MP, but it does promise instant readout across its entire compact image area. This means that it should eliminate shutter distortion.

Aside from the above, the Raspberry Pi module costs no more than $50, so using it for a bit of photographic experimentation shouldn’t be too costly.

This price tag and some of its specs put it in the same category as other photographic modules from Raspberry Pi too. Other kinds, available from DIY stores can cost anywhere from $25 to $40. Some of these lack a global shutter, but they do offer higher resolutions of 8 to 12 megapixels.

This latest device from Raspberry Pi has a Type ½.9 Sony IMX296LQR-C image sensor that while small, stores light signals simultaneously across its whole surface area. This is the key to its distortion-free image delivery. 

This quality also makes it useful for things like hobbyist uses and being able to capture photos of fast-moving objects without typical rolling shutter distortion artifacts.

In comparison to rolling shutter sensors, a global shutter captures a whole image right away instead of picking up sensor data line by line across the image area.

Modern stacked image sensors in many mirrorless cameras minimize the possibility of rolling shutter distortion, but they don’t entirely eliminate it in the way that global shutters can.

rolling shutter distortion demo

A much larger example of this type of global shutter is Canon’s 19MP full-frame LI5030SAC image sensor, which was announced by the brand in December of last year.

Despite being much larger and sharper, this Canon model isn’t available for consumer cameras. Instead, it’s expected to go into industrial and security camera applications.

The Raspberry Pi edition is a different story, and you can easily buy it yourself, though you’d also need to buy a Raspberry Pi board and a CSI camera connector.

Despite its low overall resolution, the 1.6MP Raspberry Pi global shutter model does offer one other valuable quality: each of its pixels is 3.45μm across.

photo of raspberry pi camera sensor module

For such a tiny sensor, this is quite a bit (compared to smartphone sensors for example), and it also means unusually good low-light performance.

The sensor can also pull off incredibly short exposure times of as little as 30μs (30 millionths of a second). In this regard and in its decent low-light capacity, it’s useful for high-speed photography.

Overall, the package of specs offered by the Raspberry Pi Global Shutter Camera isn’t too bad at all for its minimal cost of just $50.

Raspberry Pi’s little camera module comes with the same C/CS-mount as the High-Quality Camera module from the same brand. This also makes it compatible with 6mm CS-mount and 16mm C-mount CGL lenses.

Raspberry Pi has had quite a few supply chain issues in 2022 but the company claims that it should have them resolved by mid-2023. Anyone interested in this unique little device can find it on Raspberry Pi’s website.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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