Hobby-level microcontrollers are finally getting powerful enough to start handling camera modules that historically would have required a full computer or FPGA to handle. The RP2040 and ESP32-Sx series of chips, for example, have enough pins to communicate with the 8-bit data output, DMA to quickly grab a frame, and the necessary RAM to buffer a raw snapshot. Now all that is needed is a nice camera module to make interfacing easy!
This Adafruit OV5640 Camera Breakout with 120 Degree Lens has a nice quality OV5640 camera with a 5 Megapixel sensor element, 120-degree wide angle lens, and all the support circuitry you need. Adafruit looked at existing camera modules and while this breakout board is backwards compatible, they made some improvements:
- Standard 2x9 header if you want it, but also a duplicated header strip 0.3" apart so you can plug it into a breadboard or perfboard
- Selectable external or internal 24MHz "XCLK" clock generation - save one GPIO pin, or just have a nice stable 24 MHz signal even if your microcontroller can't generate it for you.
- Heat-sinking camera area with exposed ground pad, with lots of vias for good thermal transfer. Helpful for when doing continuous encoding and reducing thermal image drift.
- Optional VMotor 3.3V power jumper on DATA1, for auto-focusing camera modules
- 3.3V power-good LED on back that can be disabled
The module comes with header pins so you can solder it for use on a breadboard or on the standard 2x9 header—It's up to you.