Using the Camera

You briefly saw the camera interface during testing. We can explain in more detail now how it works and what options are available.

Upon startup, the camera program presents a live viewfinder and a couple of buttons. The majority of the screen itself functions as the shutter “button” — tap to take a still photo.

At the bottom of the screen are two buttons. The left button (with the gear icon) will take you to various settings. The right button (with the “play” symbol) lets you review previously-taken photos (if no photos have been taken yet, the camera will let you know it’s “empty”).
The Settings menu provides access to camera settings. This is not an exhaustive list of every feature possible with the Raspberry Pi camera, just a few essentials to get you started.

The left/right arrow buttons at the top of the screen select among the settings options:
The Storage screen selects between three different options, each with some pros and cons:

  • Photos Folder: images will be saved inside a “Photos” folder in your Raspberry Pi home directory (the folder will be created if it doesn’t exist). They can be easily accessed from other programs on the Pi, but this partition isn’t easily accessed when inserting the SD card in other computers.
  • Boot Partition: images will be saved in the folder “/boot/DCIM/CANON999” on the boot partition. When the SD card is inserted in another computer, it mimics a card from a digital camera and may import photos automatically, depending on system settings. The downside is that space in the boot partition is very limited; you might only store a dozen or so photos there.
  • Dropbox: as previously discussed, images are saved in the Photos folder as well as uploaded to Dropbox (if WiFi is connected and Dropbox configured).
The Size screen selects from three different image sizes:

  • Large (2592x1944, 4:3 ratio): this is the largest size (5 megapixels) supported by the Raspberry Pi camera. The actual area captured stretches well beyond what’s shown in the live viewfinder though.
  • Medium (1920x1080, 16:9 ratio): HD resolution, widescreen, 2 megapixels.
  • Small (1440x1080, 4:3 ratio): 1.5 megapixels.
The latter two modes should display the actual full photo boundaries in the live viewfinder mode, but don’t yet (something in the camera library documentation doesn’t correspond to reality). This is a work in progress and will be addressed once its understood.
The Effect screen is where all the fun happens.

There are 16 different artistic effects that can be applied to photos (plus “normal,” no effect). Make your photos look like an oil painting, or a pen sketch, or turn the colors weird! These all operate on the live preview as well.
The ISO setting adjusts the camera’s sensitivity to light.

This is a tradeoff…more sensitive settings (higher numbers) work better in low light, but the resulting image may be grainy.

ISO has no effect on the live viewfinder, only captured photos.
The last screen is an option to quit the camera program, returning to the command line.

Tap the red button to exit, the arrow buttons for other settings, or the Done button to cancel.
The “Done” button returns to viewfinder mode.

All the camera settings will be saved; next time you run the script, all prior settings will be as you left them.
This guide was first published on Jan 14, 2014. It was last updated on Oct 15, 2018. This page (Using the Camera) was last updated on May 04, 2015.