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I remember when the Raspberry Pi camera was announced everyone was very excited about this. I don't understand the hype.

Are you not able to hook up regular cameras to the Pi? Or maybe use a cell phone camera? What type of interface do they have? What is the benefit of using a the RPi camera module?

  • Well one thing is that the R-Pi camera doesn't use USB, which is a bottle-neck on the system. This enables easier data processing. – AndrejaKo Jun 10 '14 at 19:23
  • Getting 1080p image data at 30fps over a USB connection is just impossible. Also because it's directly connected to the SoC, the image data is loaded directly into GPU memory. – Gerben Jun 10 '14 at 19:30
  • Ok, but i still dont get what is the big deal. Couldn't you use cell phone cameras? – user1584421 Jun 10 '14 at 19:43
  • The camera is connected to the Pi, like a phone camera is connected to a phone. You could rip the camera out of a phone, but it would likely have different wiring and drivers so wouldn't work. The camera available for the Pi is very good and has high FPS , whereas its hard to get video out of a camera connected via USB without a 2 second delay and FPS higher than 15... – Wilf Jun 10 '14 at 21:33
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It's unlikely that you'd be able to use a cellphone camera on the RPi. They're very tightly integrated into their motherboards, which makes getting them off the board difficult. If you manage to do that, getting drivers for it and connecting it to the RPi will be a nightmare all its own.

The RPi camera module was considered big deal for a number of factors.

CPU Load

CPU load. While there's a lot of benefit to the USB standard, it produces its own set of headaches. The USB standard is incredibly complicated and adds a ton of overhead to anything that uses it. This isn't a big deal on a normal desktop computer because they usually have a lot of resources to spare. On the RPi, this is much less

Bus Load

Remember, the USB ports and the ethernet all share the same bandwidth. If the camera starts using the majority of the bandwidth, your network will start to crawl and could adversely affect your video performance.

Hardware Support

Most USB web cameras won't support hardware encoding at the cost of the RPi camera module. The RPi camera module is $25, whereas you'd probably need to spend $80 to get hardware encoding built into a USB device.

While it's true that the camera module itself doesn't provide the encoding, the DSI connector allows it to connect directly to the GPU, which does. Due to the nature of the SOC, most USB cameras simply won't be able to provide hardware acceleration unless they do it internally.

Form factor

While connecting a USB device camera isn't necessarily awful, it certainly isn't as compact as the connector style of the RPi camera's ribbon. The form factor allows for a much more compact, and flush mount that you could get with any USB camera I've ever seen. The RPi camera is also significantly lighter and is supported by many popular cases.

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