The flexibility of the Raspberry Pi knows no bounds, and just when you think you’ve reached your limits, something else comes along. It could be due to a great idea you or someone else had, or inspired by a recently released device extension component.

One of the first extensions you should buy for your Raspberry Pi is the camera module. With a dedicated connector, the camera can be used for a variety of tasks. Let’s look at them.

First: turn on the camera

Make sure you have connected your Raspberry Pi camera to your mini computer. Then boot up the device and log in (we’re assuming you’re using the default Raspberry Pi OS, Raspbian. ). At the command line, type

sudo raspi-config 

From the menu select » Turn on camera» .

aya-did-picamera enable

From here select enable, then Finish and Yes to reboot.

To photograph

When your Pi restarts, log in again and, when prompted, type

 raspistill –o image.jpg 

This will capture your first image which you can view in the GUI. If you are not already using the terminal from the GUI, you must switch to this using the command


The following commands can be run in the Terminal and the results checked in the Raspbian file manager. You can take as many photos as you like with this command, although note that the filename, image.jpg, will need to be changed each time it’s iterated through the command to avoid overwriting the previous image.

Let’s go a little further and instruct Pi to take a temporary photo after one keystroke.

Start by installing Python support for the camera.

 sudo apt-get install python-picamera python3-picamera 

After that enter

 sudo idle & 

This will launch the Python environment. Python appears regularly in Raspberry Pi manuals and is a remarkably easy language to understand. For more help, we suggest you check out our five best sites to learn Python best sites to learn Python programming best sites to learn Python and visit if you are interested in further developing your Python skills.

Go to File > New Window to open a text editor and enter the following code:

 import time import picamera with picamera.PiCamera() as camera:    camera.start_preview()    time.sleep(0)    camera.capture('/home/pi/Desktop/image.jpg')    camera.stop_preview() 

Use File > Save to save your work by naming it something like When you’re ready to run the script, go to Run > Run Module or just click F5 .

We can use this same script — with some modifications — to use the Raspberry Pi camera module for other projects.

PiCamera with timer


The same script can be used with a slight modification to create a camera with a countdown timer, which is a huge benefit for any selfie lover. Let’s face it, this is a Raspberry Pi, so you might find some way to put a case and camera on a selfie stick and go out in public with it.

To add a 5 second countdown, change the line




When you’re done, don’t forget to save and hit F5 to start the countdown. Say «Cheese!»

Record Video with Raspberry Pi Camera

Taking photos is one thing, but what about video? Just like with a smartphone camera or a standard desktop webcam (which is basically what a Pi camera is, just without the case), you can also record video.

On the command line, modify the script as follows:

 import time import picamera with picamera.PiCamera() as camera:    camera.start_preview()    camera.start_recording('/home/pi/Desktop/video.h264')    time.sleep(30)    camera.stop_recording()    camera.stop_preview() 

You will notice that I have set the value time.sleep() by 30, which means the script will start recording, wait 30 seconds, and then stop. Save this script as and press F5 to run.

Pay attention to the use of the function camera.start_recording() . This will save the footage as a file named video.h264 a high-definition video clip that can be opened from the Raspbian desktop. The best way to do this is to go to your Desktop folder (or whatever file path you chose in the script above), press F4 to open a terminal, and type

 omxplayer video.h264 

Add the right Raspberry Pi battery and display and you have a compact camcorder!

Slow motion

slow motion shooting time lapse shooting time lapse slow motion Smartphone cameras have exploded in popularity over the past few years, making what was once the province of professional photographers available to just about anyone.

The disadvantage of using a smartphone for such a photo is obvious; it’s time consuming and resource intensive, which you might need to, well, make and receive phone calls. A Raspberry Pi with a camera connected is a good alternative, and with a battery connected it can be as portable and versatile as an Android or iPhone app, and makes more sense than just using the Pi as a slow start for a DSLR.

Before proceeding, install ffmpeg:

 sudo apt-get install ffmpeg 

Then use this Python script to capture images at intervals:

 import time import picamera VIDEO_DAYS = 1 FRAMES_PER_HOUR = 60 FRAMES = FRAMES_PER_HOUR * 24 * VIDEO_DAYS def capture_frame(frame):    with picamera.PiCamera() as cam:        time.sleep(2)        cam.capture('/home/pi/Desktop/frame%03d.jpg' % frame) # Capture the images for frame in range(FRAMES):    # Note the time before the capture    start = time.time()    capture_frame(frame)    # Wait for the next capture. Note that we take into    # account the length of time it took to capture the    # image when calculating the delay    time.sleep(        int(60 * 60 / FRAMES_PER_HOUR) - (time.time() - start) ) 


You have created a collection of images recorded over a period of 60 minutes using this script. To view images as a movie, compile the images as follows:

 ffmpeg -y -f image2 -i /home/pi/Desktop/frame%03d.jpg -r 24 -vcodec libx264 -profile high -preset slow /home/pi/Desktop/timelapse.mp4 

You can run video on your Raspberry Pi using the Terminal command:

 omxplayer timelapse.mp4 

The video will play in full screen mode. It might look something like this…

Raspberry Pi Surveillance Camera

We previously learned how to build a webcam home security system using a Raspberry Pi. with guidance that predates the widespread adoption of the dedicated Pi camera. Things have changed since then, of course, but you can use the same principles and software to turn the Pi into a much more compact security camera solution. Theoretically, you can monitor the entrances and exits of your home for less than $100 using one or more Raspberry Pi security cameras.

We’ve given you five options for using your Raspberry Pi camera module, but we think you’ll be able to add them to the list. How do you use yours? Write to us in the comments.

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