Libcamera vs Raspistill: The Evolution of Raspberry Pi Camera Software

Libcamera vs Raspistill: The Evolution of Raspberry Pi Camera Software

Raspberry Pi, the iconic single-board computer, has undergone tremendous advancements in both hardware and software components over the years. A particular area of focus has been its camera capabilities, and this is evident in the variety of camera options available on platforms such as Pi Australia's Camera Collection. This brings us to the comparison of two integral camera software for the Raspberry Pi: libcamera and raspistill.

Raspistill: The Classic Tool

Raspistill has long been the default command-line tool for Raspberry Pi users looking to capture images with their Pi camera, especially the Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3.

Key features of Raspistill:

  1. Simple Command-Line Interface: Directly from the terminal, Raspistill facilitates photo capturing by specifying various parameters and flags.
  2. Versatility: Users have a multitude of parameters to control aspects such as ISO, exposure mode, and white balance.
  3. Time-Lapse Photography: Raspistill is adept at time-lapse shots, capturing images at regular intervals.
  4. Preview Window: A preview option is available to get the perfect shot alignment before capture.

While Raspistill has been a reliable tool, it has certain architectural constraints, especially when we look at the evolving camera ecosystem.

Libcamera: The Modern Camera Stack

Libcamera, the open-source camera support library, comes into the picture as a response to the need for a versatile solution. For those interested in exploring its intricacies, the entire codebase is available on its GitHub repository.

Key features of Libcamera:

  1. Vendor-Neutral: Libcamera isn't tied to specific hardware, making it a universal solution across various platforms.
  2. Extensibility: Designed for growth, it can embrace new features without the need for major modifications.
  3. Rich API: Offering developers a broad spectrum of controls, it’s perfect for projects requiring custom camera operations.
  4. Modern Algorithms: Users gain access to the latest in noise reduction and auto white balance.
  5. 3A Algorithms: Native support for the 3A’s—automatic exposure (AE), automatic white balance (AWB), and automatic focus (AF).

For those wanting to explore more advanced camera options, the Raspberry Pi HQ Cameras collection would be an ideal fit with libcamera's capabilities.

Making the Shift from Raspistill to Libcamera

As of my last update in January 2022, Raspberry Pi OS was shifting focus from the older camera stack, including raspistill, to libcamera. The transition signifies the Raspberry Pi Foundation's forward-thinking approach.

Whether you’re a Raspberry Pi aficionado or just starting out, the choice might boil down to your project requirements and familiarity. While raspistill might feel more intuitive for some, those looking for cutting-edge features and cross-platform adaptability will find libcamera to be the future.


The transition from raspistill to libcamera showcases the Raspberry Pi Foundation's commitment to providing the best for its community. Both tools have their unique strengths, but the adoption of libcamera hints at a future with more flexible camera solutions. Dive into these tools, and enhance your Raspberry Pi camera projects, whether you're using the standard modules or the high-quality camera variants.