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Game Boy Camera Canon EF Lens Mount (ekeler.com)
492 points by rainbowmverse 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments

Great example that photography is not about buying the newest or most expensive gear.

Maybe an idea to sell some photos as posters. They give a very authentic and retro digital feeling.

That lens is not exactly inexpensive. I think it says more about the importance of a good lens.

Haha true, but since the resolution is 128x128, you probably won't see a quality difference with a cheaper lens.

Yeah, no real need to worry about things like chromatic aberration etc, a cheap old manual focus telephoto would give similar results at much less cost. Something like an old Vivitar perhaps

@Synaesthesia, True. You could recreate the effects using Photoshop. And yet, you could create many more images in the same amount of time using the rig. With the rig you're working at the time of image capture to discover what's an interesting image in low-resolution without preconception. Magic! Conversely, using Photoshop you're working to draw, paint, this low-resolution style onto an existing photo.

This is why people use those same Game Boys to make chiptunes instead of using a good softsynth. It might be possible to make a perfect replica of a Game Boy sound chip in software, but it's still not the real thing.

Thanks to careful and dedicated developers like blargg and kode54, there are in fact fantastic, potentially perfect software replicas for many video game console audio chipsets. Game_Music_Emu comes to mind, with at least the SPC700 core featuring cycle-accurate emulation of the DSP and certainly near perfect audio output.

Even then, though... maybe 'perfect' is a misnomer. What one may have looked at as flaws initially, such as the phosphorus glow and curvature of a CRT, composite artifacts, low sample rate audio, and even the behavior of analog chips that could change depending on just about everything including room temperature are not really viewed as flaws or imperfections anymore; rather, they've become part of the personality of a machine. Software nowadays can emulate almost all of these aspects to some degree, but even so, the "feel" of a physical device is hard to replicate 100% in software.

When it comes to listening to audio, it makes no difference to me if the audio was produced by a highly accurate emulator or the original hardware; however, maybe for production, the feeling is different in some way. After all, humans are producing the music, not robots. The atmosphere of holding a Game Boy connected to a bunch of audio equipment is certainly a lot different than sitting in a DAW with an emulator (assuming software exists to marry those two kinds of things... maybe via MIDI or something?) - nobody doubts you can produce the exact same thing, or at least something that is nearly impossible to tell apart. But maybe the question is, would you? It's possible the environmental influence leads to different outcomes.

Right now I'm unsure. I know plenty of music I've listened to in the chiptune realm was written and produced in Famitracker, possibly using a combination of overclocking and special chips that would either be very difficult or impossible to rig up in the physical world. So I guess maybe the answer is that it depends on the artist, the song, and probably a host of other factors. But it's fun to think about, anyway.

>> The atmosphere of holding a Game Boy connected to a bunch of audio equipment is certainly a lot different than sitting in a DAW with an emulator (assuming software exists to marry those two kinds of things... maybe via MIDI or something?)

Most chiptune-inspired synths come in VST format. They run inside the DAW. I usually just put something together in Serum when I want a chiptune-esque sound, but I used various chip synth VSTs before I had Serum.

None quite match the feel of composing in Mario Paint on a friend's SNES decades ago.

Honestly you could probably get similar results from cropping a regular digital camera picture and applying filters to make it look like this.

Often enough it is. There is a difference when you can ramp up your iso to 10, 20 or 50k with way less quality loss and you have only a few minutes for a moment in the evening.

A great example indeed. Photography is about capturing the moment- to do that, one often needs to capture the sentimental feeling, and while the Game Boy does not capture the feeling, it gives the photo its own vibe. Susan Sontag would argue that the above is not a photograph; it is art.

> Photography is about capturing the moment-

Not always. When you do studio photography for example, you are hardly "capturing the moment", you are pretty much setting up the whole architecture leading to it.

Indeed one can argue that any form of photography beyond "pull out your cellphone and take a quick snap" are not "capturing the moment". For a good picture, you've identified a good subject, moved about to find some good whitespace for your background, selected a focal point, aperture and shutter speed etc., maybe even instructed your subject or moved a distracting item away, captured O(10) images, chosen the best one and then postprocessed it in the digital darkroom.

> the newest or most expensive gear.

EF mount lenses are quite a lot more expensive than the Gameboy itelf!

Looks like the Gameboy cameras are ~$50, used Gameboys can be had for ~$50, and used EF 50mm f/1.8s are ~$50.

The 70-200 f/4 that the author used? Much more.

I can definitely show you some great examples though of photography that is all about having the newest and most expensive gear.

authentic? Why would it look any different if you did a transform in software?

The 8-bit guy did a video on the GameBoy camera a while back. It's pretty interesting.

What's amazing about this post is just the quality of the images. They're really good for the medium.

They look like some of the drawing demos the old Commodore artists (and current demo scene people) do; amazing images with really simple color sets and low resolutions.

Now all we need is a professional gimbal for the gameboy... RED better watch out!

Makes me wonder what a similar mod would do for video shot on a Fisher-Price PXL-2000:


> Fisher-Price PXL-2000

Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time.

What dithering technique did the Game Boy use?

The Game Boy Camera has an analog output (a technical data sheet for the chip is available[1]), so the dithering is done in software. Although I am speculating, at first glance it appears to be ordered dithering[2].

EDIT: I did find a document detailing the dithering algorithms and registers used for this purpose reverse-engineered here[3].

[1]: https://people.ece.cornell.edu/land/courses/ece4760/FinalPro...

[2]: https://web.archive.org/web/20130512190753/http://white.stan...

[3]: https://github.com/AntonioND/gbcam-rev-engineer/blob/master/...

That absolutely is ordered dithering. Not only does it have the characteristic cross-hatch pattern but ordered dithering is relatively efficient even on very limited resources. I can't picture the Game Boy's Z80 or even a toy-market ASIC of the era having the horsepower to do Floyd-Steinberg or anything more modern.

Floyd-Steinberg dates from 1976 and is fairly simple to implement, but it does require storage of a source image; ordered dithering is however easier to do statelessly from a scanning analogue input.

This is wildly impractical, but I suppose the creator has no illusions about that. There's a link on the page to a more practical version using a cell phone accessory lens. I'd like to see an adapter for CS mount CCTV lenses. These lenses are inexpensive, small and lightweight, actually intended for something like the GameBoy's 1/4" sensor format, and available in a wide variety of focal lengths, including wide angle lenses.

This is ridiculous and I love it.

That is amazing. I love it.

Love this. Best thing I've seen in photography in a while!

Really cool project.

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