Of all the film-to-digital camera conversions I’ve seen, this has to be one of the most fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to turn what is ordinarily a medium format film camera – even if it is a “toy camera” – into a 128×128 monochrome digital camera? I suppose it’s fitting that the creator of this one went with a Gameboy camera, in-keeping with that “toy camera” theme.
It’s the creation of photographer Michael Fitzmayer, and it utilises the Gameboy Camera module and an ESP32 microcontroller. It has no controls other than a button to shoot a photo. You can’t adjust any settings at all. There’s no screen to preview your shot or review images back, either. You just look through the little plastic viewfinder to get a rough idea of composition, hit the shutter and hope for the best.
When you hit the shutter on the Gameboy Holga, the camera saves whatever the camera sees straight to a microSD card. Until you get back home, you don’t know what you’ve shot or how the images look. The camera module still utilises the original Gameboy Camera lens, although Michael did modify the Holga lens to fit around it and give the impression that it was just a standard regular Holga from the outside.
The image sensor in the Gameboy Camera is the Mitsubishi M64282FP. It’s a 128×128 pixel monochrome sensor with built-in image processing. It can capture and process the image simultaneously, which then gets sent to the STM32 microcontroller. From there, it gets saved out to the microSD card via the SPI protocol, just waiting for you to get home and see what you’ve shot.
Currently, the STM32 puts out Portable Grey Map (PGM) image files, so you’ll need to convert them to something else on your computer – fortunately, they are supported by Photoshop. Michael says that he would’ve liked for the STM32 to output jpg files, but it seems that it’s just a bit too much for the little microcontroller to handle. Despite this, he says that he’s very happy with the results. So happy, in fact, that he’s shared them with the world for other people to have a go at making their own.
All of the code, along with the bill of materials and some instructions on how to fit everything together, has been posted to GitHub.