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Shooting the Moon With a Game Boy Camera Is Really Hard

Why yes, that’s a Game Boy strapped to a 179 year old telescope (Image: Alex Pietrow)

By modern standards the Nintendo Game Boy Camera is crap. It takes 2-bit 128×112 pixel photos in crisp black and white. Intended to be viewed on the simple display of a Game Boy, the images the Game Boy Camera takes are always super pixelated and often require squinting just to figure out what the heck the subject is.

Unless you get a really nice image with lots of contrast. Then, as with traditional black and white photography, the Game Boy Camera can resolve some pretty cool images. Astronomy student Alex Pietrow suspected as much when he strapped a Game Boy Camera to the end of a 179 year old telescope to snap some shots of the moon.

The moon! (Image: Alex Pietrow)

“I like to tinker, especially with old technology,” Pietrow told Gadgetlayout by email. He had plenty of access at the Leiden Observatory (colloquially known as the Old Observatory) where he works as a tour guide. “One of the perks is that you can use the antique telescopes for silly things like this.”


Which is precisely what he did. After first figuring out how to save the images from the Game Boy Camera to a PC (a trial in and of itself according to Pietrow), he put together a camera rig involving a Game Boy Advance SP, a Game Boy Camera, a
smartphone mount meant for astrophotographers
, and a 6-inch Fraunhofer telescope from 1838.

“I did a lot of astrophotography with proper cameras so I had a rough idea of what was possible, but the 2 bit nature of this camera made it a wonderful challenge.”

After getting his rig set up he waited. “The biggest issue was a typical Dutch one: waiting for a cloudless night,”
he said on his blog
. It took a few weeks of patience to get the above shots, and afterwards Pietrow considered another subject popular amongst astrophotographers: Jupiter. Jupiter, to the naked eye, is just a big blob of light that’s virtually indistinguishable from the field of stars to a layman.

The big blob is Jupiter. The three tiny dots that are brighter than all the other dots are three of Jupiter’s moons. (Image: Alex Pietrow)

Which is why Pietrow is so proud of this shot he grabbed. “I managed to get the contrast perfect to get Jupiter and [three of] its moons. Quite impressive for a 2 bit camera, as Jupiter is more than 600 times brighter than its moons.” Not all of Jupiter’s moons (there are 67), just three of the most prominent ones.


The shot of Jupiter above is actually blown up nearly nine times its original size. It originally came out of the Game Boy looking like this:

Pietrow isn’t done with the 2-bit astrophotography game either. Before heading to Stockholm in September to study for a Ph.D in Solar Physics, Pietrow is planning a few more long nights tucked into the Leiden Observatory. “When the weather allows it I want to try to get Saturn on camera and perhaps make some solar photos and see if I can capture sunspots.”


The OnePlus 5 makes taking pro photos easy, reveals fashion photographer Raghav Goswamy

Over the years, smartphones have slowly become a necessity and often, an inseparable part of our lives. Thanks to its portable nature, smartphones have made us question the need to buy a desktop computer, a gaming console and now, even a full fledged DSLR. Phones these days are powerful, fast and can mostly do everything a computer can. Yet, for a good long time, the maximum potential of a smartphone could only be experienced when you spent all your savings on a super-expensive, high-end flagship phone. But then, three years back, OnePlus arrived and changed all that. The OnePlus One made us realise you don’t need to spend so much to get the best out of a phone. The OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T that came out last year cemented that realisation.

But one thing remained elusive. The imaging experience. Phones did manage to upend the need for carrying a bulky laptop, but for the longest time, it would come nowhere close to taking photos as good as a professional grade camera. OnePlus thought on working towards achieving that and this year’s OnePlus 5 is the result.

With the OnePlus 5, the Chinese upstart has not only managed to win the hearts of its loyal fans, but it has also convinced professional photographers that you don’t need to carry a DSLR anymore. We gave the phone to Raghav Goswamy, a young and talented lifestyle and fine arts photographer who went to the iconic
Jama Masjid in Old Delhi
one evening and took some stunning shots. At first glance, it’s easy to mistake the photos were shot using a professional setup. An untrained eye will even claim it to be a work of a DSLR camera. That’s the charm of the OnePlus 5.

The OnePlus 5 offers a dual camera setup on the back. Much like the iPhone 7 Plus, the OnePlus 5 features the usual 16-megapixel f/1.7 lens and a 20-megapixel f/2.6 lens which is a 35mm telephoto lens. This allows the OnePlus 5 to offer some amount of optical zoom which is again optimised to offer clean, lossless zoom. But does it really help?

“Normally zooming in too much on phones is a hassle, because the images tend to get grainy. I did use the feature in a few of my images though, and was surprised to see barely any difference, especially when I clicked them on RAW as I could edit them and correct whatever little difference I saw, once I was done clicking,” Raghav told dia.

The OnePlus 5 can indeed take photos in RAW format, which used to be a feature exclusive to DSLRs. Professionals use RAW images so that it can be processed better in post production.

But more than that, the OnePlus 5 can make a photographer out of just about anybody. While a professional image maker can take brilliant shots from any device, the OnePlus 5 is quite simple to use. The stock camera app offers high-end editing options which can turn any image into something you could frame and hang on your wall.

Raghav’s job was made easy thanks to the OnePlus 5.

“There isnt much I have done to these images post capturing. Mostly edits can be completed on the phone itself, the stock app is pretty easy to handle. There are also additonal apps on the phone these days that make editing a super simple process,” revealed Raghav.

But post processing the photo is only half the work. The magic lies in figuring out the camera’s limitations. Every camera has its sweet spot and Raghav manipulated it to get those brilliant images you saw in his gallery.

“It’s more or less getting used to the focal length of the camera. It’s slightly wide , so I tried to stick to that focal length and used an approach that compliments that. I also experimented with the portrait mode and the depth of field setting that comes with it. Its an interesting bit that’s added to the phone camera, and its fun to explore it in different light settings,” Raghav illustrated.

And that’s about it. Unlike using a DSLR where you need to muddle through complicated controls to get that perfect shot, phone cameras like the one on the OnePlus 5 takes the pain away by offering useful features like the portrait mode and the optical zoom. It’s that simple.

Raghav Goswamy is a young and talented fashion and fine arts photographer based out of New Delhi and Mumbai.