More Pi HQ Camera might be a little bit of a stretch as I’ve only made a brief reference to it before, in this blog here. This is more about using the Pi HQ Camera as a camera, rather than a webcam, with some surprising results.
I think my interest in photography is another one of those things I inherited from my Dad, although he was certainly no photographer. Like me, he liked taking pictures, and was probably more of a point and shoot kind of guy, with a principle of talking enough pictures to ensure a few good ones.
Digital photography makes that much easier for me than the rolls of 35mm film my Dad had to buy and get processed, typically from Max Spielman. I’ve just Googled them and can’t believe they are still in business! I also went through a phase of buying ever nicer cameras, and which eventually ended up with a Canon 5D Mk II around the time my daughter was born in 2012. I’ve since bought some nice second-hand glass, and while I still take lots and lots of pictures, they don’t tend to be with the DSLR.
I think there are two reasons why I use my DSLR less these days:
The first is the incredible advances mobile phones have made with photography, in my case the Apple iPhones. You can take some amazing pictures with the latest iPhones, much easier than you ever could with a DSLR, or at least with much less thought. Low light shots and long exposure shots can be achieved at the press of a volume button, which would require various filters, tripods and post-processing to achieve with my 5D.
The second is the weight of the DSLR equipment, especially if you’re taking a few lenses with you. You can’t really compare several kilograms with an iPhone, which just slips into your pocket!
Anyway, time to get this blog back on track. When the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced its HQ Camera earlier in 2020, I was obviously interested. I was playing around with a few Pi’s at the time and owned one of the smaller, and cheaper, Pi Camera Modules V2. Other than as a surveillance camera, I’d not really found much use for it, so struggled to justify the ~£100 the HQ Camera was going to cost.
Later in 2020, I found it could be used as a high-quality webcam, which was all the justification I needed, although in my mind I was already starting to thinking about the other uses, specifically involving some of my Canon glass. The first step to achieving this was a C to EOS EF mount, which would connect the much wider Canon EF (and EF-S) lenses to the Pi HQ Camera mount, which can use C and CS lenses.
I’ve not had a clear enough night with a decent sized moon to try and take the picture I’d imagined when I set this up, but here are a few of the set-up and the incredible range!
The first image is the Pi HQ Camera. The second is from the Pi HQ Webcam project, which inspired my purchase. It connects the camera to a Pi Zero using a Pi Hut mount, and also includes the 6mm lens and mini-tripod. The bottom two images show the EOS EF to C mount, with the last attached to a 50mm ‘nifty fifty’ EF lens.
I always imagined something slightly bigger than the ‘nifty fifty’ attached, and the longest I can go is a 70-200mm with a 1.4x extender. Not sure how well you’ll be able to see these, but on the 2nd image there are 2 red shapes. The square is the close up of the hula hoop on my fence and the circle is the house some miles away!
Based on the sensor size, I think I’m getting somewhere between 5-7x magnification, so somewhere between 500-2000mm! I’ll add some moon pictures when the conditions allow…