Intevac is a leading developer of photonics products for commercial and military markets. This white paper describes the development of the embedded electronic systems for their NightVista product, a compact, high-performance, ultra low-light camera. The initial implementation of this camera was based on a popular digital signal processor, several ASSPs, and external memory devices. The requirement to increase system performance led the engineering team to explore an alternative based on a configurable soft-core processor implemented in programmable logic. This decision resulted in the following gains: achievement of target performance; integration of discrete components and digital signal processing (DSP) functionality into a single FPGA; a nearly eighty percent decrease in power consumption; significant cost reduction by reducing five boards of components to one; and shorter development time.