The Game Boy camera is one of the weirdest and most successful consumer cameras ever made – and it’s become a cult following among photography enthusiasts these days. One fan, Conor Merrigan, managed to adapt his own into a surprisingly impressive motorsport shooting rig.
Here has PopPhoto, we have to admit we love extreme retro vibes. And Conor’s photos look like how I remember from the classic video game, Gran Turismosince my youth.
Bad specs… for 1998
The Game Boy camera has a swivel lens built into a Game Boy cartridge. Its 128×128 pixel CMOS sensor can capture 128×112 pixel images in four different shades of gray. That’s less than 0.01 megapixels – poor specs even for 1998.
Besides being a terrible camera, the Game Boy Camera also has many other limitations. Two of the biggest, at least for motorsport shooting, are:
- The only way to get photos from the camera is to print them using the official Game Boy printer.
- The wide-angle lens lets you capture things like selfies, but not distant objects.
These, however, can be overcome.
To get his Game Boy camera ready to film motorsport action, Merrigan needed to find a way to remove the stills from the cartridge and attach a lens with a bit more reach. He posted a YouTube video with a full breakdown of the process and the workarounds are pretty clever.
To get photos of the cartridge, Merrigan uses an Arduino and open-source code from GitHub to emulate a Game Boy printer, so photos can be “printed” and saved as digital images. (If you can get your hands on it, the Analogue Pocket offers an even simpler, if less retro, solution.)
And to fix the lack of zoom, Merrigan 3D printed an EF-to-Game Boy Camera Mount Adapter (you can get the file on Thingiverse). Installing it involves disassembling the original cartridge and replacing the lens setup, but it also means you can use just about any EF lens instead.
Spectacular Drift Results
Merrigan’s YouTube video originally went viral in December, but he finally managed to take his modified Game Boy camera setup to the track for proper filming, and the results are outstanding.
Even at ridiculously low resolution, Merrigan managed to capture the feel of the action on a track day. I was shocked at how each car looked with the 2-bit colors; they really don’t blend into an indistinct blur. You can even see tire smoke and dust in some shots.
Fun with limits
Merrigan’s results really show how self-imposed limitations can push you creatively. Sure, these aren’t the most impressive action shots ever taken, but they’re certainly some of the most impressive ever taken with a Game Boy camera.
And while you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to a heavily modified 1998 camera to push yourself, we’re all for trying new things with our photography here. And I hope Merrigan’s work will inspire you too.