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Brilliantly Modded Game Boy Camera Is No Bigger Than a Cartridge

The Game Boy Mini Camera is a custom creation that pairs the original sensor with iPhone lenses.

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Twenty-five years after the Game Boy Camera first debuted back in 1998, fans are not only still enjoying lo-fi, black and white, pixelated photography, they’re also re-engineering the camera to make it better, even going so far as to shrink it down to the size of a regular Game Boy cartridge.

The last time we had checked in with Christopher Graves, a Game Boy Camera fan who knows their way around a 3D printer and a circuit board, they were showing off a custom creation called the Game Boy Camera M. It turned a sacrificed Game Boy Pocket into a mirrorless shooter with swappable lenses, a custom shell with a leatherette wrapped finish, a rechargeable battery, and a repositioned action button repurposed as a shutter trigger.


At the time, the Game Boy Camera M seemed like the perfect tool for those who prefer shooting images at just 0.001434-megapixels (128x112 pixels), but after seeing Graves’ latest creation, we’re not so sure any more.


Those who spent any amount of time shooting with Nintendo’s Game Boy Camera will remember that it was a chunky accessory with a bulbous lens sticking out over the top of the Game Boy it was attached to. There’s no doubt Nintendo did everything it could to shrink the size of the original Game Boy Camera, but the company was limited by the technology in 1998, when all digital cameras were fairly bulky. By leveraging a quarter century of technological miniaturization, Graves’ was able to create a much sleeker alternative they’re calling the Game Boy Mini Camera.

Starting with schematics for a custom reflashable Game Boy Camera PCB made by Martin Refseth, Graves created a custom board that carried over the original Game Boy Camera’s sensor, memory map controller, and “a few capacitors that were just easier to harvest,” which all fits inside a custom shell the same size as a standard Game Boy game cartridge. The Game Boy Mini Camera can actually run two different ROMs, and is upgraded with flash memory so that there’s no risk of stored photos disappearing when a backup battery dies.


As for the Game Boy Mini Camera’s lens? If it looks oddly familiar to you, slightly sticking out of the top corner of the cartridge, that’s because it’s actually a lens from an iPhone XR. The lens is screwed into a custom threaded sleeve, allowing its position to be adjusted to change the camera’s focus. Graves is also testing other iPhone lenses, including one from the iPhone 14 that will stick out even further, and potentially one from an iPhone 5S, which would eliminate that small camera bump altogether.


Despite borrowing some optical hardware from the iPhone, the images captured by the Game Boy Mini Camera are still unmistakingly low resolution and lacking in detail and color: which is exactly the aesthetic Game Boy Camera photographers are after. But with the redesign, the Game Boy Mini Camera can actually be slipped into a pocket when used with a handheld like the Game Boy Pocket.

Don’t whip out your credit card and start screaming at Graves to shut up and take your money just yet. As with their Game Boy Camera M, the Game Boy Mini Camera is described as another selfish project they made only for themselves, but they aren’t completely ruling out one day designing their own PCB schematics from scratch and making them available to other hobbyists who want to tackle a DIY project like this on their own.