OK - so my model A duly arrived with the Pi camera. A little playing with this, and it's clear there are a few pluses and minuses with the camera. The quality seems something like about the same as a lower end mobile phone camera in general. This is what I see as the drawbacks / bonuses of the RPi camera over using a USB camera.
- When bought with the model A, the price including delivery is just over £31. - This seems pretty reasonable to me compared with a cheap webcam and a model A Pi.
- Camera quality is OK - not brilliant, but not too bad.
- Data transfer doesn't impact on anything else you might be doing on the USB bus which seems to be a pretty major limitation otherwise - esp given I'm running a wireless dongle already on the USB.
- Using raspivid / raspistill doesn't seem to use very much CPU at all. - Same is not necessarily true using a USB camera.
- Try as I might, I cannot shift the barrel holding the lens. The lens / barrel are really, really small and I cannot apply more force without danger of breaking the camera off the board. - This means I cannot adjust the native focus of the camera which is fixed. It seems to be rather long sighted, focusing best from about a metre to infinity. Not a major issue, but I need focal distance of about 25cm, so need to use a corrective lens.
- Ribbon cable isn't very long, and isn't very flexible - It would be nicer to have a flexible cable.
- IR ability with the standard camera is nil. - Generally, even cheap webcams have some built in IR ability for night / low light ability. I know there is the model available with the IR filter removed, but it means I can't use the standard version in the birdcam at night. Further, a cheap USB camera generally has built in IR leds for low light use. - There is no illumination with the Pi Camera module.