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My Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera was excellent last year when I wrote this answer including these images but I tried it again a year later and something has gone very wrong with the front surface of the sensor.

Below are cellphone snapshots of it and an image taken through it. Both show what look like "bubbles" about 0.1 mm in diameter randomly spaced about 0.2 to 0.5 mm apart. It looks like they are underneath a transparent sheet of polymer, perhaps on both sides of a piece of flat glass in front of the sensor.

It's hot and humid where I live but not more so than anywhere else in the tropics, I can't see how there's been any mishandling on my part.

Has anyone else seen or read about something like this on the Raspberry Pi High Quality camera or its Sony sensor?

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  • I suggest you post on the official Pi forum, camera section forums.raspberrypi.com/viewforum.php?f=43
    – CoderMike
    Jun 29, 2022 at 19:39
  • @CoderMike actually no need to post there, searching that forum for "filter" turns up several people with similar issues, This is indeed the IR filter and at least one person said that it happened while the camera was stored in a box, and another said that removing the IR filter restored good image quality. This is all April through June 2022 so it sounds like there was a bad batch of filters. If you like please feel free to post an answer based on that. Thanks for introducing me to that forum!
    – uhoh
    Jun 29, 2022 at 21:03
  • @CoderMike and from Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera 12MP: 5 Things to Know Before You Buy I found raspberrypi.com's Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Filter Removal
    – uhoh
    Jun 29, 2022 at 21:08
  • @CoderMike If nobody does, I may eventually do that, but I'll wait in case someone else would like to or perhaps someone will come along and post an answer based on personal experience.
    – uhoh
    Jun 29, 2022 at 21:27

2 Answers 2

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I had EXACTLY the same looking 'bubbles' in my IR cut filter. I found a hex key and easily took the front assembly off the module. I CLEANED the inside surface of the IR cut filter. The image quality is now COMPLETELY RESTORED!

Edit to add photos... The photos below are of my first attempt.

The front 'before' shot 'BEFORE'

The inner surface of the cut filter Inside/Back of IR cut filter

I cleaned the back of the IR cut filter but left smears. After a quick wipe

I reassembled and saw a huge improvement as shown. (but not perfect) Reassembled to test

After taking these photos I took it apart again and carefully cleaned to mostly remove the smears and dust that I'd left on the first attempt.

I used a hex key, a cotton bud, a microfibre cloth and some distilled water. I did not remove the IR cut filter from the housing. My camera is fixed, it cost me nothing and did not require a new filter. I hope this now adds something.

GingerLee.

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  • Wait, are you are saying that you cleaned the inside surface of the IR cut filter, and then replaced the filter in the camera and completely restored the image quality while preserving the IR cut function? That's great! Is there any chance you have some photos of the process you could add? Thanks!
    – uhoh
    Oct 23, 2023 at 14:09
  • @uhoh - thanks for your encouragement, I have edited to add photos. The description of how to get to the back of the IR cut filter is in the other answer. Oct 23, 2023 at 21:54
  • This is great news! I never would have thought about repairing the filter. For my application the IR transmission doesn't seem to hurt (I'm digitizing images displayed on a green phosphor screen in a dark room) but for those needing color imaging the IR rejection will be most welcome. Good job!
    – uhoh
    Oct 24, 2023 at 12:06
  • I have now done some research and concluded that it is 'lens fungus'. Google it. You will find articles on it and YouTube videos which show how to clean lenses of fungus. Note that I did not need to use chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide on my IR cut filter so do not know if it is safe to do so. Oct 24, 2023 at 19:41
  • A little anecdotal lens cleaning tip from a hobbyist tinkerer: lint-less kimwipes can be pricy compared to coffee filters. Standard old school white basket filters that are a buck or tow for hundreds are soft enough to not pose a direct risk to a lens/coating and wont leave a bunch of little hairs behind. As far as an antifungals, it doesnt take much to harm the atoms thick coating on optical elements, so whatever one decides to use, use it sparingly. Or use a uvc light, or direct sunlight, possibly even a steamy soak in a lidded pot at 165°F (placed on something to keep it above the water).
    – Tank R.
    Mar 4 at 15:03
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Thanks to @CoderMike's comment pointing me to the official Pi forum, camera section it was then easy to figure this out by typing "filter" in the search box specific for the camera topic within the forum.

I've found that this is the famous infrared filter (never seen one before!) that almost all cameras intended for realistic viewing have, since silicon is sensitive past 1000 nm while our eyes cut off at about 700 nm.

several posts below on the April 2022 Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Grainy/Noisy Image page indicate that this blueish rectangular infrared filter becomes mottled and degraded optically. One user mentioned working outdoors in sunlight but another mentioned that like my situation, it was simply stored.

The only fix seems to be to remove the filter itself.

Arducam's Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera 12MP: 5 Things to Know Before You Buy links to the official Raspberry Pi documentation's Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Filter Removal; the first two steps of which are:

  1. Work in a clean and dust-free environment, as the sensor will be exposed to the air.
  2. Unscrew the two 1.5 mm hex lock keys on the underside of the main circuit board. Be careful not to let the washers roll away. There is a gasket of slightly sticky material between the housing and PCB which will require some force to separate...

After removing the two hex screws from the circuit board side, we successfully separated the circuit board from the big black ring stuck to it by inserting a tiny flat screwdriver under one edge and gently turning it.

The "slightly sticky material" gasket gave way easily and it was not difficult to gently pop the infrared filter off with a tiny screw driver at one corner, accessible by the machined clearances in each corner of the recess in which it sits.

The camera now works great but of course the color is no longer realistic as the red channel is dominated by infrared.


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above: Cropped bit of an image from Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Filter Removal showing the recessed corner where one can get a bit of leverage to remove the filter. In this image they've replaced it with a piece of high quality optical plastic in order to protect the sensor surface from dust. below: remove the two screws from the PC board side first, then separate the big black ring from the circuit board by applying "some force" to break the "slightly sticky material" gasket.

After removing the filter you can reseat it and replace those two hex screws. *If you are clever you'll remember to take care to rotate it so that the standard camera mount is in the right direction and oriented so that when you mount it the CCD sensor won't be slightly rotated (tilted) :-)

https://www.arducam.com/raspberry-pi-high-quality-hq-camera-imx477/

Source: Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera 12MP: 5 Things to Know Before You Buy

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above: detailed view of the removed IR filter; the spots are visible at the top where the background is dark. below: the removed IR filter.

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