Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Reviving Kodak DCS 520C

Wikipedia: Kodak DCS

Kodak DSC 520 (Canon D2000) was introduced in 1998 at MSRP around $16,500 (according to DigiCam History Dot Com). Today you can find it on eBay for about $250 or less. The camera is based on professional Canon EOS-1N body and Kodak 2 million pixel CCD. As per Phil Askeys' excellent review  (1999) it was "Most, Hugely, Very, Highly recommended. The best image quality, high resolution, colour and gray balance. A "reference camera". There were several versions produced including colour, monochrome and infrared (to be confirmed).  *Update: Kodak DCS 520 was produced as colour only (520C), no other variants.
When couple weeks ago I saw Kodak DCS 520C on eBay for $199 I just grabbed it:)
The package included camera body (in almost mint condition with less than 1500 actuation), battery and camera AC adapter.
I was extremely excited to find out how this, one of the first professional DSLR, performs and took it for a test. But...

First, I quickly realized that supplied AC adapter does NOT charge the battery!

 it is only good to operate the camera when it is attached to a permanent source of electricity!
Second, the camera shoot but doesn't save images to a 2gb compact flash card / PCMCIA adapter ($7 at a local computer store) .
After some research I realized that firmware upgrade is required.
I used my old and dusted 260 mb Type 3 PCMCIA hard drive (never throw old things away!) to load latest available firmware from  Kodak support site.

  1. Connect AC adapter to camera
  2. Insert PCMCIA hard drive in the camera and format it using camera utility
  3. Download latest firmware from from Kodak support site to PC
  4. Insert formatted PCMCIA hard drive into a reader (I used ADTRON 3.5" ATA to IDE PC Card PCMCIA Adapter Reader/writer for type1,2 & 3 card, $ 29.99 eBay)
  5. Copy firmware bin file from PC to the hard drive
  6. Insert the PCMCIA hard drive back into the camera and power the camera up
  7. Use camera utility to update the firmware
Done! Now the camera can read and write to my 2gb compact flash card!!

Next is the battery. As I mentioned before, supplied AC adapter was only good to keep the camera alive when it was connected to the source of power. Apparently the battery is on a different circuit and can not be charged with it. You need a separate battery charger. Batteries are easy to find for around $15 a piece but, unfortunately, original chargers are not. I saw one recently on eBay for almost $200

Another option is to use discontinued MAHA MH-C777PLUS-II charger, read full article at  but it is also almost impossible to find one.

Thanks to Rob Galbraith's article (2002) I came up with a simple, ugly and unsafe solution. Next steps called " Don't do this at home" :)

With the help of an old 9V battery charger (never throw old things away!), standard paper clips and copper wires I managed to charge the battery!
I left the battery to charge for about 14 hours and it came back as fully charged.

And after:

Well, so far so good. The camera is up and running, works well with modern Canon AF/IS lenses, the battery is fully charged and my compact flash card can hold almost 1000 photos.

In my next post I will share some photos taken with this camera.

 * 2012-10-25 Important update: new battery charger!
Today I came across DIGIPOWER  Universal Battery Charger at the BestBuy.
* 2017-07-10 Update: charger model number and availability.

The charger is called DIGIPOWER TC-U400, it's still available at Amazon.

It has adjustable contact points and can automatically detects battery type and voltage. The manufacture claims that it is compatible with major rechargeable batteries for phones, digital SLR cameras, etc.

I can confirm that it works with this particular Canon battery.

Thanks for dropping by,



  1. THanks for the fun post - look forward to more.

  2. Thanks, Libby. I just posted photos taken with it.

  3. Hi
    I also got the same camera last month.
    it really impressed me about the color.
    However, the pixel is not enough to print 4"x 6"
    Do you have any idea about that?

    1. Hi,
      I think that 2 MP is more than enough for 4x6 prints. Usually you need 200-240 pixels per inch, per side to print high quality pictures. (6x240)x(4X240) = 1140x960. Kodak DCS520 output is 1728x1152, so you should get very good results up to 5x7 and OK results up to 8x10 prints.

  4. Thank you for your blog on this system. I acquired one on eBay for $150. Had to replace the top LCD screen using a donor EOS-1N and repaired the motor in the grip and a wire that had been cut because of the loose motor. This camera is not fully functional with a new battery that was charged using the Digipower charger. I am impressed with the early technology and how far we have come in the digital imaging process.


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