In this paper a survey of analog application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for low-level image processing, called vision chips, is presented. Due to the specific requirements, the vision chips are designed using different architectures best suited to their functions. The main types of the vision chip architectures and their properties are presented and characterized on selected examples of prototype integrated circuits (ICs) fabricated in complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technologies. While discussing the vision chip realizations the importance of low-cost, low-power solutions is highlighted, which are increasingly being used in intelligent consumer equipment. Thanks to the great development of the automated design environments and fabrication methods, new, so far unknown applications of the vision chips become possible, as for example disposable endoscopy capsules for photographing the human gastrointestinal tract for the purposes of medical diagnosis.