The Game Boy camera, minus the Game Boy, shoots 256 greyscale and HDR
We’ve seen a lot of Game Boy Camera hacks over the last few years. We’ve seen them rehoused into camera cases, modified to take “real” lenses, converted into webcams, and shrunken down to game cart size.
But all of those mods have one thing in common. They require a Game Boy (or the guts of one). This mod, however, from Raphael Boichot, only uses the camera and some custom electronics based on the Raspberry Pi Pico.
What’s particularly cool about this modification, aside from the fact that it uses custom electronics, is what those electronics allow you to do. For example, you get only four shades of grey when using the Game Boy Camera on a Game Boy. Well, technically, black, white and two shades of grey in between.
With the camera module plugged into Raphael’s electronics, it can shoot full 8-bit greyscale images. Sure, it’s still greyscale, but instead of 4 shades, you get 256, allowing for a much higher quality image.
As well as providing much higher quality results than using the camera module on the Gameboy itself, it also offers you near-unlimited storage. After all, they’re still only greyscale images, they don’t take up a lot of room.
And because the hardware runs on open-source code, you’re able to modify it to work exactly the way you want. This means much easier access to the image files on a computer (or phone). If you need to save jpg, png, gif or any other format, you can.
It’s an automatic exposure camera, with three main shooting modes. You’ve got regular mode, motion sensor mode and timelapse mode. In timelapse mode, the camera uses different folders to save the images for each sequence. In regular mode, a single press fires the shutter, and holding it down continues to take images at 150ms intervals (~6-7fps).
It’s a fascinating project. If you find yourself with a Game Boy Camera and no Game Boy, it might be worth looking into this!
You can find all of the information, including code, schematics and everything else, head on over to Raphael’s GitHub.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.