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Game Boy's $50 digital camera

Nintendo will release an add-on cartridge that turns its portable game gadget into the market's cheapest digital camera for $49.95.

Nintendo will release in June an add-on cartridge that turns its popular Game Boy portable game system into the most inexpensive digital camera on the market.

For an estimated retail price of $49.95, Nintendo is offering a

Nintendo's Game Boy Camera
Nintendo's Game Boy Camera
camera that does not aim to replace or imitate the picture quality of traditional photographs but does exploit some critical features of digital photography.

Experts have long said that the key to wide adoption of digital photography is acceptance by traditional photographers. The Game Boy Camera may go a long way towards accelerating that acceptance by luring the next generation of shutter bugs to digital photography with a low-price, easy-to-use product.

"This is a very creative product that kids will go nuts over, and parents will not balk at the affordable price," said Gary Peterson, imaging analyst for market research firm ARS. "Nintendo has installed many applications that will allow kids to do almost whatever they want to make digital imaging fun."

The lens and camera cartridge attach to the Game Boy in the place of a normal game cartridge. The lens, which swivels 180 degrees, protrudes from the top of the Game Boy.

The Game Boy Camera's black-and-white images can be decorated with antennae and captions, retouched with paint functions, and transferred to a friend's Game Boy.

The Game Boy Camera offers zoom and panorama features like many digital cameras. It also offers time-lapse modes, trick lenses that can flip, stretch, or split images, and four mini-games where users can super-impose their faces into the game. Games to be bundled with the camera cartridge are Space Fever II, Ball, Run! Run! Run!, and D.J, which allows users to compose and attach songs to images.

For an additional $59.95, the Game Boy Printer can print the images onto stickers. The Game Boy Camera sold 500,000 units in its first three weeks in availability in Japan, the company said.