You most likely found this article because your trying to understand the difference between the Raspberry Pi NOIR vs Normal Camera that you see on various sites and Amazon. The cameras are indeed very similar, but they are designed for different purposes.

If your new Raspberry Pi’s, or just want a simple parts list we’ve provided it here:

Spoiler alert! Our favorite camera by far is the “Night Vision” camera (pictured right). It comes with two built in illuminators that will literally make your RPi see in the dark.  It’s great!  But now let’s move on with our article and talk about the main topic: The Raspberry Pi NOIR vs Normal Camera

Right to the Point: The Raspberry Pi NOIR vs Normal Camera

We know most people just want the answer to their question and we’ll do that now, but we encourage you to stick around see our test results below. At its most basic the difference between the two cameras comes down to one thing.  The “normal” Raspberry Pi camera has an IR (infrared) filter over the lens that blocks our infrared light.  The NOIR version of the camera omits that filter.

What’s the Big Deal about Infrared Light?

So you might be asking yourself about now… “What’s the big deal with IR light?” and “Why would you want to block or allow it?”

Good question!  IR light entering a camera during normal daylight hours tends to wash out the picture and colors. You can see the effects of this below in our tests. However, at night when the sun has gone down there is no visible light entering your camera and the picture is black or at the very least significantly grainy.

Removing the IR filter allows you to shine IR light from an IR illuminator where your camera is looking.  This light will back bounce into the camera just like normal light. Your human eyes won’t be able to see this light, but to your camera its just like sunlight (in black and white, more or less).  With the normal Raspberry Pi camera’s IR filter its unable to see this IR light and the picture remains grainy or black.

The Raspberry Pi “Night Vision” camera comes with IR illuminators built-in, making it literally “see in the dark”.

Raspberry Pi NOIR vs Normal Camera Comparison

Check out these side by side shots of the Raspberry Pi’s normal camera, next to the NOIR version.  During the day you’ll see the picture is all washed out, but still acceptable.  However, at night difference becomes very clear.

Daytime vs Daytime Comparison NOIR vs Normal

You can see in this comparison that the NOIR version of the camera has considerable color washout compared to the normal version with intact IR filter.

Nighttime vs Daytime Comparison NOIR

Now check out this picture of a Raspberry Pi Deer feeder camera.  Without the IR filter and and the use of an IR illuminator, the scene (and deer) is clearly visible at night.  The standard Raspberry Pi camera image would be completely dark at this time of night.

Feel free to leave some comments below with your experience with these cameras!


About The Author

Mike Murray
Founder, and creator of The Geek Pub

Mike is the founder of The Geek Pub. A jack of all trades who simply enjoys the challenge creating things, whether from wood, metal, or lines of code in a computer. Mike has created all kinds of projects that you can follow and build yourself, from a retro arcade cabinet to plantation shutters for your home. As an accomplished IT Executive with 25+ years experience, Mike believes that in today's world of ever changing intense competition, IT must be strategically aligned to the business like never before.

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