Sony DKC-5000 full set (© Sony Corp.)

Sony DKC-5000 CatsEye (1994)

This is another so-called machine vision camera unit. Not everyone though is aware that most machine vision cameras came with a matching control unit. This is also the case with the DKC-5000. The matching control unit was labeled Digital Photo Camera and to prove that it was a complete set, the control unit and the camera itself had matching serial numbers.

US and european versions have been marketed. The DKC-5000 was nicknamed 'CatsEye' and had three CCD's. In fact it was a three-array video camera converted for still use. A successor of Sony's SEPS system that resembled a standard EFP TV camera. The earliest records of the DKC-5000 I could find date back to the year 1994. I therefore use this date unless someone can prove me wrong. The camera was built for use in microscopy and medical research and marketed through Sony Medical Systems.

The camera performs real time full color image capture. Captured images are stored in internal memory where they can be previewed. It has two frame memories, with up to eight additional frame memories offered as an option. The images can be transferred to a computer in about 20 seconds, or, in a stand alone system, printed directly to a digital color printer. The camera stored up to 10 images in the internal memory for faster throughput and could capture 10 shots simultaneously. The image handler or processing unit has a strong resemblance to the Sony DIH-2000 image handler that came out a few years earlier.

Let's talk lenses. The camera iself has a 1/2" bayonet. Macro TV zoom lenses are certainly a good choice. Sony offered a motorized lens for it called VCL-712BXS. It retailed for an astonishing $2,200. Unboxing the lens revealed something extraordinary. The lens itself was not a Sony but a Canon lens. Only the motor was made by Sony. This lens was also used in professional broadcasting. The same lens was also marketed entirely by Canon. This puzzled me for a bit so I opened the DKC-5000 only to find that the optics were supplied by Canon! See pictures. Sony only made the breadboards and the camera design.

An entire DKC-5000 package not included the digital processing unit but also a cable remote control (RM-S72), a $800 b/w electronic CRT viewfinder monitor (DXF-40BCE), a $375 tripod attachment (VCT-S20), a digital color printer and an additional 8-frame memory board (DKB-5008) and a 7.5-90mm zoom lens (VCL-712BXS) for $2,200. Hence the list price of $7,995 or more.


  • Brand: Sony
  • Model: DKC-5000 'CatsEye'
  • First mentioned: 1994
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $7,995
  • Imager Type: 3x 1/2" 0.44MP CCD (1.3MP)
  • Resolution: 1520x1144 (795x598 effective)
  • Internal Storage: yes for 10 images
  • External Storage: Tethered to a computer
  • Lens: 1/2" 38 bayonet mount
  • Shutter: 1/25s - 1/10,000s (live) / 4s - 1/10,000s (still)
  • Aperture Range: lens dependent
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: 123.5 x 72 x 70mm (camera) / 424 x 356.5 x 105.5mm (system)
  • Weight: 620 gr. (camera head) / 9,000 gr. (system)
  • Remarks: -

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