#Test: Asian compatible NoIR camera VS Raspberry Pi v2.1 camera: Outdoor Test

The Raspberry Pi v2.1 NoIR 8MP camera has been emulated by Asian manufacturers (as usual you will say). This camera is of very good quality. It is built around a Sony IMX219 8MP sensor that also equips many smartphones. Sony quality is paid since it is necessary to count Very good quality, this camera is quite expensive (about €28). For a project to transform dummy security camera and IP surveillance camera, I decided to get a low cost copy before launching me.

Why use the NoIR version?

The sensors (CCD or CMOS) are usually protected by an infrared filter to improve the quality of the image. For some applications, for example night video surveillance, a tip is to remove (or not install at the time of manufacture) this filter. This allows the sensor to be more sensitive in low light. That is why on commercial sites, the denomination (abusive?) Of night vision camera is often found.

But let’s say it clearly, do not expect to make beautiful photos or videos with this camera. Judge this test done by the site Raspi.tv with the first generation of camera (sensor OV5647).

comparatif camera raspberry pi avec sans ir

Comparison camera NoIR, standard camera. Source: raspi.tv (http://raspi.tv/2013/pinoir-whats-it-for-comparison-of-raspicam-and-pi-noir-output-in-daylight).

Unpacking cameras

To make the tests, I bought the official camera in version 2.1 IR official to be able to compare it to his Asian clone.

Official v2.1 camera Raspberry

The official camera v2.1 NoIR arrives in a soft cardboard box. The camera is slid into an electrostatic pouch. The protection is simply obtained by the packaging. A cardboard envelope in the case of Amazon. The cardboard arrived a little flattened but without consequence for the material. The delivery time is only a few days.

camera originale raspberry pi noir v2

Click to enlarge

Asian version

There are packs including a NoIR camera with Led lighting for about €17 (free shipping). Allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. The pack is very well packed in a first carton. A first carton contains the camera as well as the flat cable 15cm long. A second carton contains the 2 infrared LED lights with the assembly screws.

camera noir raspberry pi v2 led infrared unboxing

Click to enlarge

Technical Comparison

Asian cameras are typically manufactured around the OmniVision OV5647 CMOS sensor. It is the same that was used for the first generation of Raspberry camera. They are limited to 5MP and can produce a video stream up to 1080 at 30 frames per second. It all depends on your application, but for video surveillance, that’s already enough. Here are some technical features to compare the different models.

Camera v1 Camera v2.1 NoIR official Raspberry Asian clone with 2x Red Leds
raspberry pi v2.1 noir camera official  noir compatible camera raspberry pi
Connector CSI CSI CSI, compatible Raspberry
Dimensions 25 × 24 × 9 mm 25 × 24 × 9 mm 25 x 24 x 26 mm

25 x 75 x 26mm (avec Leds)

Resolution 5MP

2592 × 1944 pixels

8MP

3280 × 2464 pixels

5MP

2592 × 1944 pixels

Sensor CMOS OmniVision OV5647 CMOS Sony IMX219 CMOS OV5647
Video resolution (max.) 1080p30 1080p30 1080p30
Sensor size 1/4 pouces 1/4 pouces 1/4 pouces
Driver V4L2  V4L2  V4L2
Focal 3.60 mm 3.60 mm 3.60 mm
Vision field 53°(horiz.) x 41°(vert.) 53°(horiz.) x 41°(vert.) 75,7° (horiz.)
Price From €29 From €15

Sources of camera technical data https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/hardware/camera/.

Which camera for the Raspberry Pi Zero W?

The Raspberry Pi Zero W just as the 1.3 revision has a camera connector. Yes, but it is smaller than Raspberry Pi. It is quite possible to use a v2.1 camera or v2.1 NoIR by replacing the flexible table with a compatible table (also called camera ribbon).

If you already have a camera, you can buy from Asia for about €2.

adaptateur nappe camera raspberry pi zero 1.3

Adjusting the Optics

The cameras each have an adjustable lens. In the case of the Raspberry v2.1 camera, it will be necessary to use the white ring delivered with the kit.

camera-originale-raspberry-pi-noir-v2-bague-reglage-nettete

Camera Ring Raspberry v2.1

For the Chinese kit, optics are more classic. It is less compact too, but it is not inconvenient as it is intended to be used with additional LED lighting. We live, or we estimate to make the sharpness. The kit received was well adjusted (luck?).

Comparative test

Let’s go to the tests now. I do not have the pretension nor the tools necessary to make lab shots, but at least you will be able to compare the rendering of the same scene taken a few minutes apart.

Outdoor Day Test

The first shot was taken with the sensor OV5647 of the Chinese camera. The original image is 2592×1944 pixels (as expected). The rendering of very bland but the scene does not present very contrasting elements. It is finally close enough to the rendering obtained by Raspi.tv in 2013.

camera noir chinoise 5mp ov5647 raspberry pi 3

The same scene this time with the official Raspberry NoIR camera (Sony IMX219 sensor). The image is more contrasted and more detailed due to the 8MP of the sensor. The resulting image is 3280×2464 pixels.

camera noir v2 raspberry pi 3 officielle 8mp

Outdoor Night Testing

Let us now proceed to serious matters, and see what can be hoped for at night. Let’s start with the OV5647 with additional lighting. We can distinguish the bushes (located about 15 meters) and the hedge (about 30 meters). The image contains a lot of noise. It remains to be checked whether the motion detection (for example with Motion) will be functional.

camera noir chinoise 5mp ov5647 raspberry pi 3 nuit

Now the turn of the camera v2.1 NoIR that does not have lighting. One would expect, one can not distinguish anything on the image produced.

camera noir v2 raspberry pi 3 officielle 8mp nuit

Indoor testing

A little disappointed by the results (although one might expect), I did an indoor test this time with the OV5647 camera equipped with its LED lighting. The result is surprising. The advantage of removing the IR filter is understood. The image is really well suited for night vision video surveillance. It just lacks a small adjustment of sharpness.

camera noir chinoise 5mp ov5647 raspberry pi 3 nuit interieur

On the other hand without additional lighting, there is no need to do any testing with the Raspberry v2.1 camera. Case to follow with additional lighting.

Conclusions

The official IR camera v2.1 is built around a Sony sensor of excellent quality. It is very compact (9mm thick) which will allow to integrate it very easily in your projects. The sharpness can be adjusted using a ring (included in the pack).

The Asian cameras compatible with the Raspberry Pi are still manufactured around a 5MP Omnivision 5647 sensor (the same that was used in the first generation of Raspberry camera). It gives satisfactory results for applications that do not require exceptional image quality, for example monitoring.

On the other hand in both cases, impossible in the state hope to manufacture an outdoor video surveillance system as is. It will be necessary to add a projector with Led more powerful than the 2 small LEDs. However, they will do wonders for indoor use.

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