Business Profile


The beginning of PCO’s story of success dates back to the 80s and a research project of the founder, Dr. Emil Ott, who was working at the Technical University Munich for the Chair of Technical Electrophysics. While performing measurements with intensified slow scan cameras, Dr. Ott realized that the existing standard did not meet the sophisticated requirements of scientific applications – and so PCO came to life in 1987. With a small team of engineers Dr. Ott began to develop his first image intensified camera followed by several variations on the original model, geared to overcoming all the existing flaws and surpassing standards of the day. During these early years PCO developed a now well established core of advance technologies used as the foundation to develop cutting edge products. One result of the technology developed by Dr. Ott and his team of engineers was the market introduction of the world’s first camera for particle image velocimetry (PIV): the SensiCam – and there was a lot more to come.

In the early 90s PCO expanded its business activities to the global market by successfully establishing an international network of highly trained sales partners and customers. We entered additional fields beyond traditional scientific research expanding the potential for our cameras’ applications in life science, automotive testing and even broadcasting. This step paved the way for a wide range of innovative highlights:

  • DiCam: the first image intensifier video camera with 5ns exposure time – 1989
  • VarioCam: the first cooled long-term-exposure video camera with interline sensor – 1993
  • SensiCam: the first digital interline camera with 12-bit ADC – 1996
  • pixelfly: the first 12-bit machine vision camera – 2000
  • pco.dimax: the first 12-bit high-speed camera with broadcast image quality – 2009
  • sCMOS sensor: co-developer of a revolutionary new CMOS image sensor generation
  • pco.edge: the first sCMOS camera – 2010
  • CameraLink HS interface: founding member of the international CLHS standard committee
  • pco.flim: the first modulatable 40MHz camera based on a CMOS sensor – 2016

As of 2017, PCO has three decades of technical know-how and expert knowledge in the development and manufacturing of high-performing camera systems. In-house competence of all significant technical disciplines and partnering with leading image sensors manufactures ensures cutting edge sCMOS, CMOS and CCD technology for all PCO cameras.


“PCO” stands for what we are: a Pioneer in Cameras and Optoelectronics.

With 30 years of expert knowledge and experience PCO has forged ahead to becoming a leading specialist and innovator in digital imaging used in scientific and industrial applications such as life and physical science, high-speed imaging and machine vision.

We have the most versatile sCMOS camera portfolio on the market and are recognized globally for creating a broad variety of superior camera systems that are on the cutting edge of technology.


From its start in 1987 up to the present, PCO has been growing continuously. We have more than 80 employees at our headquarters in Kelheim, Lower Bavaria, Germany and host in-house competence of all required technical and administrative disciplines in a purpose-built work space of 54,000 sq ft. Bavaria and the surroundings of Kelheim make up an important research and high-tech region close to Munich. Kelheim is a historic town, first documented in 866. The Hall of Liberation, its major landmark was built by King Ludwig I in 1863 on top of Mount Michael and is visible from all over the town and valley.

Since the early 90s PCO has striven to improve its position as a global supplier by being geographically closer to its customers. To that end, PCO now has subsidiaries in North America and Asia along with its German headquarters.

In 2003 PCO opened its branches in Canada and the USA. In addition to sales and service activities for all the Americas, PCO’s Canadian office also offers innovative photonics and calibration products and services exclusively for the Canadian market.

Our third subsidiary was established in Singapore in 2013 with the objective of serving our Asia sales partners and OEM’s more effectively by providing required technical and sales related support. Recognizing the importance and growth opportunities in Asia, we will continue to invest in resources to meet the growing market’s needs.

To strengthen the Chinese market division and to satisfy the rising level of demand, PCO’s China subsidiary opened in the beginning of 2017 in Suzhou. Suzhou is a key city in the Yangtze Delta, the economically strongest and most important region of China.