Added August 4th 2002 - By Eric)
anyone's guess on when Nintendo will release an official
GBA camera, although rumors were rife recently that
one was already in development. Those of you who can't
wait, however, need not despair, thanks to a third party
manufacturer in Asia who has just released the GBA Mini
Purpose Of The GBA
The GBA Mini Camera, as it's name implies, is a cartridge
camera using CMOS
technology. Just like a regular camera, the GBA Mini
Camera will allow you to take pictures using the screen
of your GBA as a view finder. The camera has
8MB of built-in flash memory so you can store up to 26 photographs
which can then be transferred to your computer
via a USB cable. Once you get your pictures on your
computer, you can then print them out or touch them
up using your favorite imaging software. Below is a
list of the camera's features:
- Built-in 8MB of flash memory.
- 640 X 480 pixel resolution.
up to 26 pictures.
- Pictures can be deleted/undeleted from the
- 9 pictures can be viewed simultaneously
on each page in preview mode.
- Selectable area zoom-in.
- 4 exposure modes; normal,
under-sun, in-door and night.
- 4 picture effects; neutral, rich color, blue,
- Adjustable screen
- Adjustable focus.
- USB connection with supplied cable to computer.
- Photo management software for your computer
to preview, print, back-up and catalog your pictures
in the camera. The software only works on Windows
98, ME and XP operating systems.
Using The GBA
Those of you who own or tried the old GameBoy Camera
will know instantly how to use the GBA Mini Camera.
It's a relatively simple attachment, you only need to
plug it in and turn on your GBA to start snapping happily
away. The camera doesn't need any batteries nor do you
need to modify your GBA in any way to use it. The printed
instructions that come with the camera reads a little
looney (literal English translation from Chinese) but
trust me it's easy to work because all the menus are
The first thing you'll see when you turn on the GBA
is the flash screen for the camera program. After that,
you are instantly in picture taking mode and whatever
you see on the screen is what you will take a picture
of when you press the "A" button. Pressing
"Select" will bring up menu options, and from
here you can select the exposure mode, effects filters
and contrast display.
Exposure Mode - It's important to set the mode in
which you are taking pictures. For example, if you are
taking pictures out-doors under bright sunlight, you
must choose the "under-sun" mode. If you don't,
your pictures will turn out over-exposed. Focus can
also be manually adjusted by tuning the focus lens on
the camera. Don't worry too much about this, however,
because you can see for yourself what your picture looks
like on the screen since everything captured is in real-time
and you can adjust the settings accordingly. As soon
as you snap a picture, there is a slight pause and you
will know that your picture has been saved when the
picture counter goes up by one.
Effects Filters - The camera has four effects filters
and you can play around with these to your heart's content.
I only used the "neutral" filter for this
review since any kind of filter effect that I need can
be done with Adobe's Photoshop. To let you know, the
"rich color" filters emphasizes hues and color,
while the "blue" and "red" filter
as it's name implies, imparts a bluish or reddish tint
to your pictures.
Contrast Display - As we all know, the GBA's screen
display can be rather difficult to see. The camera,
however, will allow you to adjust the contrast up to
fifteen times. This helps a lot, but in low light conditions
you can't expect much unless you have an internally
So, once you've got all your pictures you can then
manage them using the camera's photo management menu.
You can access this menu by pressing the "left"
shoulder button. In preview mode, you can view up to
9 thumbnail pictures at one time, and select to view
or delete the one you want. A neat feature is the ability
to zoom-in on any part of the picture, although the
result is highly pixilated. Another good feature is
the undelete option, in case you delete any picture
The next step is to transfer the picture to your
computer for printing or touch-ups. This is done via
USB with the supplied cable. The driver and software
for the camera comes on a diskette, so you must install
this on your computer first. Pressing the "left"
shoulder button and cycling through the options will
get you to the "pc connection" menu. When
you've got the camera linked and ready, you'll then
need to start the "Mini Cam Photo Book" software.
Mini Cam Photo Book Program- The program is small
and simple and easy to use. It will tell you how many
pictures are stored in the camera and will give you
the option to preview, print, back-up and catalog your pictures.
All pictures saved are in the JPEG format.
Pros Of The GBA
First of all, is ease of use and portability. The
camera is the size and weight of an average game cartridge
and is a self sustained unit with it's own built-in
memory. This means you can bring it anywhere and take
pictures anytime. The high resolution screen of the
GBA also works nicely as the camera's view finder. The
menu system and options are easy to understand, and
anyone can get it up and running in no time.
In sunlight and bright light conditions, the camera
takes pretty good pictures. Capturing at 640 X 480 pixel
resolution gives your pictures better print quality,
and also makes it easier to work with when exported
to an imaging program like Photoshop.
The use of USB is another plus point, which makes
transferring pictures that much faster and easier. The
drivers supplied worked flawlessly on my computer, and
the camera's photo software was simple and dead easy
Cons Of GBA
As I've mentioned, the GBA Mini Camera uses CMOS
technology, and so you can expect certain shortcomings in image quality and sensitivity that are
inherent to CMOS (if you own a GB Camera you'll understand).
In short, camera's like these need a lot of light to
capture good quality pictures. So while the camera is
quite good at capturing pictures outdoors on sunny days, it doesn't
do as good a job in low light conditions.
Another con is the slow frame rate that the camera
achieves, which in turn makes focussing a little difficult.
To take a good picture you'll definitely need steady
hands as any movement when pressing the "A"
button will result in a blurred image. Processing time
between pictures is also a little long (about 5 seconds)
so don't hope to take fast, simultaneous action shots
with this camera.
In the software department, my main gripe is that
you can only select one picture at a time to preview
or upload. If you have 26 pictures, it will take some
time to upload all the pictures despite the fast USB
Another disappointing gripe is that the camera can't
be used a web cam or to capture video. Maybe this is
too much to ask for considering the price, but it would
have been ultra-cool if it could. Also, because the
camera is locked in a fixed position without any kind
of swivel attachment, self portraits are out of the
Lastly, like the GBA TV Tuner, the GBA Mini Camera
will be so much easier to use if you have an internally
lighted GBA. So if you can, get yourself the Afterburner
Despite its shortcomings in image quality under low
light conditions, the GBA Mini Camera is pretty good
for outdoor shots. For those on a budget and very new
to digital imaging, this is the attachment to get for
Camera & GBA
Inside The Camera
Mini Cam Photo Book