N900 camera sensor

[edit] Hardware

The main camera is a ET8EK8 by Toshiba. The datasheet can be found here. [1]

The camera is a 5MP imager, with a Dual LED flash and autofocus.

It is compatible with the N96, N85, N79 and N900. [2]

It is connected via a multiplexer to the single camera bus on the CPU, along with the front camera. The two cannot be used at once.

This lens is considerably smaller than the minimum physical requirement for a true 5MP camera.

[edit] Replacing the camera

The service manual for the N900 indicates that the camera can be replaced. In principle this would allow upgrading the camera, however it is perhaps unlikely that a compatible camera of better quality will be easily available. There are also obvious warranty issues - the camera is not a user serviceable part.

The camera sensor is particularly sensitive to harsh light, and can be damaged easy if one is not careful where the camera is pointed.

Here is an example of a picture from a damaged sensor: [3] This one in particular has been sun damaged (dark spot) and UV laser damaged (purple marks). The dark spot was found not to be dust after a thorough disassembly and cleaning of the camera optics.

A suitable camera module replacement (if one cannot find one labeled specifically for the N900) is the camera module from either the N85, N96, or N79. They are all the same.

Here is a N85/96/79 module ordered from ebay: [4]

Once you have determined that your camera sensor is damaged, disassemble your N900 to this point (google ‘N900 service manual’ for instructions): [5] You can pop out the old camera with a razor blade stuck into the edges: [6]

Notice there is a notch on the camera's edge that designates alignment. [7]

Here is the difference between the N85/96/79 Module (left) and the N900 module (right). As you can see, there are some minute differences (serial/model numbers?), but the pinout is the same. [8]

Replacing the camera is as simple as popping the old module out and putting the new module in.

Success! No more damaged sensor! [9]

[edit] Software

The lens cover on the phone can be sensed by the phone, to open the Camera camera application automatically. This can be overridden - see this post

In PR1.2, the camera performance improved substantially in dark conditions.

The driver presents the camera as a video4linux device - /dev/video0.

The camera is used by several applications, including the built in camera application, a photo translation app and mbarcode.

Several applications augment the functionality of the camera - lfocus allows finer control of the camera focus and a flashlight application.

Gdigicam is used along with gstreamers Camerabin element to take pictures normally.

See the documentation for more information.