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This GameBoy Camera shoots retro race car photos with a modded DSLR lens

Guy creates a modded game boy camera that can shoot photos using a canon ef dslr lens
(Image credit: Conor Merrigan)

Love retro tech? Enjoy adapting kit that wasn't intended to go together? For those who enjoy the nostalgic feel of shooting on older and more obscure devices, you're in for a treat with this creative modding 3D-printed hack. 

Inventive YouTuber and race car enthusiast, Conor Merrigan, has enhanced the classic features of the 24-year-old GameBoy Camera using coded software to enable the uploading of images, outfitting the 0.1Mp camera with a Tamron DSLR lens. 

• Read more: Best photography video games  (opens in new tab)

The GameBoy Camera is an add-on that was designed for the original 8-bit handheld Nintendo GameBoy gaming console, enabling users to capture low-quality photos (in the device's signature, monochrome green palette). First released in Japan in 1998, the camera accessory is older than this author and soon ceased manufacture in 2002 – it remained a cool gimmick for gamers with some clear faults and limited use.

One of several downsides of this device was that images could not be viewed or transferred beyond the host GameBoy console – although you could print out the captured images via a separate thermal printer (but only to the size of a large postage stamp). While this may have been fun back in the day, the practicality and quality of the system obviously doesn't compare to the likes of the Polaroid Now (opens in new tab) or Instax Mini 11 (opens in new tab)

Merrigan is one of the few people to have modded the GameBoy Camera in recent years to allow for the uploading of images as digital files to a PC. The video (above) explains this process in detail, but long story short: it requires a soldering iron, some knowledge of Arduino coding and a raw data decoder to convert script into a digital image file.

Towards the end of the video, he uses a 3D-printed adaptor to attach a cheap Tamron 28-80mm DSLR zoom lens to his GameBoy Camera. The lens doesn't quite work at first, due to the distance from the camera sensor, but trial and error led to eventual success.

More recently, Merrigan attached the newly modded GameBoy Camera to a different GameBoy console with an enhanced backlit screen, to allow for better "live view" visuals when shooting. He took to the race track and captured some incredibly creative images of race cars using the modified setup. 

Proof that the Nintendo GameBoy Camera still has its uses, though it was never intended to be used this way, this awesome enhancement by Merrigan puts the fun back into shooting – and is, as he describes, "so dumb but so cool".

To see more work from Conor Merrigan, be sure to check out his YouTube (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab) accounts, and thanks again to Conor for allowing us to share these fantastically creative images.

Read more:

Best camera for car photography
(opens in new tab)Best gaming cameras (opens in new tab)
Best camera for kids
(opens in new tab)6 photography hacks for lens and body caps (opens in new tab)

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Beth Nicholls
Beth Nicholls

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.