CinePi is an Open-Source Raspberry Pi-powered Cinema Camera

CinePi open source video camera

The Raspberry Pi has been used for many do-it-yourself photography projects over the years, including the recent Leica MPi camera and Photon light meter. Now, the open-source treatment has arrived for cinema.

As seen on Hackaday, the CinePi project fully embraces an open source approach and Raspberry Pi technology. The CinePi features a Raspberry Pi 4 with an HQ camera module inside a 3D-printed enclosure. The camera also includes a four-inch touch screen, a Zero2Go power supply, and a Noctua fan to keep the internal components from overheating.

A complete parts list is available on Github and the creators have also published a very detailed build guide. To build the CinePi, someone will need to be proficient with a soldering iron, but otherwise, it looks to be a relatively straightforward project.

While the CinePi camera design is impressive enough on its own, where the project truly shines is concerning its accompanying software. The large touchscreen allows users to navigate a thoughtful menu and change vital camera and exposure settings. It is among the cleanest user interfaces PetaPixel has seen for a DIY Raspberry Pi project.

This is all well and good, of course, but what can the CinePi do in terms of cinematic quality? As it turns out, quite a lot. CinePi shared a video earlier this year, seen below, and the sample footage can be downloaded directly from Google Drive.

Hackaday also shared a film shot on CinePi by Schoolpost that demonstrates what is possible with the open-source CinePi project. Schoolpost is the company behind CinePi, by the way. “This project came about as a concept film to pilot a new camera development project I have been working on for the past few years, called CinePi. This version of the story is distilled from a much larger and bigger idea for a potential feature film,” writes Schoolpost of the short film below.

Builder Taylor Hay has made a CinePi of their own and shared some test footage on YouTube.

While the test footage looks good, it is essential to understand the limitations of a Raspberry Pi camera module. The Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera uses a 12.3-megapixel Sony IMX477 image sensor, which is just 7.9 millimeters diagonally. As the samples above show, the small sensor holds up in bright light but is rather noisy in low light.

That said, the CinePi is a fascinating open-source video camera project that is accessible and affordable. It is always good when artists have better access to the equipment they need to bring their ideas to life.

Image credits: CinePi and Schoolpost