I was recently searching for an overhead camera with interchangeable lenses for streaming and making video tutorials, and was going to pick up a Sony mirrorless camera, but stumbled across what may be the most hackable camera I’ve ever come across from a mainstream manufacturer: The Micro Cinema Camera from Blackmagic Design.
This super compact camera is designed for drone operators, and is somewhat specialized (there is no display on the camera itself and configuration is done over HDMI or via remote control), but what makes it stand out is the DB-15 port you can see just below the HDMI connector above. You have full control over the camera (shutter speed, iso, iris, etc.) through standard pins using PWM signals, meaning you can easily control the camera from an Arduino or most other MCUs! It even comes with a cable that breaks the pins out to easy to use female headers. Read on for details!
Using a specific (but fairly simple) protocol you can set the iris, shutter, white balance, etc., using a simple PWM signal, meaning you could probably even make your own wireless remote control using something like a RFM69HCW Feather or similar two way radio.
We even have you covered with the DB-15 breakout if you want to create a custom cable: DE-15/DB-15 Male Plug to Terminal Breakout Block
Not having an LCD on the camera might be a deal breaker for some people, but as an overhead camera for product demonstrations it’s great to be able to control this from an Arduino just as a fun little project. If you have any experience with this camera, let us know about it in the comments below. There is also a more expensive 4K version of the camera, the Micro Studio Camera 4K, but only the HD version has internal recording to SD cards (in high quality 10-bit 4:2:2 or 12-bit CinemaDNG raw files!).