Digital Cameras

The Game Boy Camera – by Adam Laws

What was your first digital camera? You may have possibly owned a Casio QV-10, Nikon D1 or alternatively a Canon 5D. Your first digital might have been a 2MP beast situated on a Nokia N90 phone or even 0.3MP phone periphery for a Sony Ericsson T68i. For my younger brother and I our first digital camera was the Game Boy Camera arriving via Santa (AKA the Argos Catalogue) in 1998.

My younger brother and I loved our Game Boys. One of my fondest photos is that of my father, younger brother and I playing the first incarnation of the Gameboy in 1990-1991 shot by my mother on 110 film.

The Game Boy camera at time of release was the world’s smallest digital camera. It housed a 128×128 CMOS sensor. The camera shoots specifically in black and white like the Leica Monochrome – Probably not the obvious comparison in fairness. Unlike the offering from Wetzlar the Game Boy has a tonal pallet of four graduations. The manual controls consist of the ability to adjust the brightness and contrast to varying degrees of success. The cameras inbuilt post production software allows you to change the image frame, and subsequently “draw” over the image MS Paint style. Storage capacity is a maximum 30 images. The camera can be swivelled 180 degrees from the rear to forward facing probably being one of the first devices specifically dedicated to selfies that I’m aware of.

At the time the Game Boy camera was released I was fifteen and I wasn’t specifically taken with it. I was not ungrateful – I was however fifteen, thus the only thing on my mind was my teenage hormones and the age old British tradition of frequenting local parks to drink as much cheap cider as I was capable. My younger brother however loved playing with the device. We had a Game Boy printer, which allowed you to print tiny images on thermal paper, which was a glorified till receipt printer.

Twenty years later I now have in my possession a pink Hello Kitty Game Boy Pocket, which my friends have stated has earned me a serious amount of “Hipster points” – Presumably the currency used to procure moustache wax. Now being less interested in cider and more interested in photography what are my opinions of the device? It’s limiting, very limiting. Highlights and shadows are lost in the blink of the eye and that’s if you can make out the image on Game Boy’s screen, which almost reflects as much light as my pale skin on a beach – I’ve been mistaken as a distress flare on multiple occasions. Despite the obvious limitations of the device it’s these limitations that make the camera more rewarding to use, it inspires creative solutions, a vast amount of trial and error, and more importantly it induces a big smile on my face. Is it a good camera? Far from it. But it’s great fun and appeals to my geeky nature.

Alice

 

Pia

 

Alice

 

Leica MP

 

Selfie mode

All images here are exported via a BitBoy in BMP format and then subsequently enlarged in Photoshop by 600% to a more adequate size.

All the links to the various models, agencies, and MUAs can be found on my Instagram account including my latest work: www.instagram.com/adamlawsphotography Or alternatively my website: www.adamlaws.com

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Ed Worthignton
    April 28, 2018 at 9:25 am

    This is well cool. I never had the game boy camera, my cousin did though and I can remember no end of times we would stick our pixelated heads on the basic games that came on the software.

    • Reply
      Adam Laws
      April 28, 2018 at 12:44 pm

      You should pick one up Ed – they cost less than most 35mm point and shoots on eBay.

  • Reply
    Ernesto Leitez
    April 28, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Shit, you had to mention a fucking Leica in an article about the Game Boy Camera? And photography yours, of course, but then how would anyone know you have one? Then they say digital photogs are the only ones obsessed with gear. Sheesh.

    • Reply
      Adam Laws
      April 28, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      It was pretty tongue in cheek reference.

      I’ve written about various cameras on this site – Contax (G2 and T2), Makina, Polaroid, and yes even Leicas.

  • Reply
    Ant Lockyer
    April 28, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Best review yet

    • Reply
      Adam Laws
      April 28, 2018 at 12:44 pm

      I’m not to sure about that but thanks.

  • Reply
    Aivaras
    April 28, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Cool story. And I like results – especially first one.

    • Reply
      Adam Laws
      April 28, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks and on a side note love your site.

  • Reply
    karellen
    April 28, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    That camera is what in my opinion opened the way to digital cameras. I remember that when it came out it was mindblowing that you could be able to take pictures, decide what to print and what not viewing them on a screen, without needing to go to the laboratory and wait days if not weeks. The fact that it was so easy to use that a children could use it was also too a strong point (also if looking back, at 10 years old, I could easily have been able to use my dad’s manual fujica with needle meter, if he wanted to teach me! Those cameras were dead simple!). I had 8 years at the time, so more technical aspects about image quality were a little outside of my knowledge! I remember that I really wanted it, but at the end my parents convinced me that it would be a gadget of limited use, and also the price was pretty high, at least compared to normal games cassettes. Or maybe at that point I had to decide between game boy camera and pokemon, and the latter won!

    • Reply
      Adam Laws
      April 28, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      At 8 years of age I would have probably picked up Pokemon as well. Plenty of time to make amends however.

  • Reply
    Rifki Syahputra
    April 30, 2018 at 12:42 am

    so cool..
    It wasn’t so hard to pixel peep back then

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