BBC tries out Raspberry Pi’s ‘nightmarishly complex’ camera add-on


The BBC’s Technology Correspondant, Rory Cellan-Jones, has been getting to grips with the new camera module for Raspberry Pi – the low-cost DIY computer. Since its introduction early last year, hundreds of thousands of Paspberry Pi computers have been sold all around the world, and as well as ‘homebrew’ computer enthusiasts they’ve also proven popular in schools, as an inexpensive way of encouraging children to develop practical coding skills.

The Raspberry Pi camera board was announced earlier this year, and opens up enormous potential for applications including robotics and high risk aerial/underwater use. Cellan-Jones got hold of one of the new camera boards and wrote a short article in which he details the ‘nightmarish complexity’ of making it work. 

The BBC’s Technology Correspondant, Rory Cellan-Jones, struggling to get to grips with the camera module for the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer. (picture: BBC)

In Cellan-Jones’s words, ”at first sight, it must be just about the most useless camera you can possibly imagine. To take a picture you have to somehow hold it in one hand while typing a line of code with another and pressing return.’ 

Ultimately, Cellan-Jones came to appreciate the ‘DIY’ aspect to setting up the camera module, concluding ‘I still found the whole lengthy process rather satisfying. Instead of turning a camera on and pressing a button, I’d been forced to think about the software behind digital photography and muddle my way through’. 

If you’re a homebrew computer enthusiast and you fancy experimenting with the new camera module, be sure to check out the recently-announced Raspberry Pi photography competition.




The Raspberry is a coder’s computer not an iPhone. At some point, this thing could be installed anywhere, relaying images in real-time to the user’s phone, which I believe is already available from security companies, but where is the fun in that?


So… what he doesn’t like about the experience is the exact reason that the target audience actively wants it.

Adrian Tung

I bet someone would take this, strap the whole thing onto a battery-powered platform and make a robot out of it.


Sometimes… people feel the need to get a piece of timber from the woods, saw and chip and chisel it to a camera shape, sandpaper and smooth out the rough edges, apply a shinny lacquer black finish…

Then gouge out a tiny one square centimeter hole on the front face…

…and put a tiny cell phone/laptop camera in there.

Oh the joy of complexity…


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