Canon A720 IS Review

 
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Canon PowerShot A720 IS Performance


Timing and Performance

Good to average speed for a consumer camera.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

1.5 seconds

Time it takes for LCD to turn on and lens to deploy.

Shutdown

1.7 seconds

How long it takes to retract lens.

Buffer clearing time

0.5 second
(0.5 second buffer clearing after LSF JPEG shot)

Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't retract their lenses and shut down until the buffer is cleared.

Mode switching

Play to Record,
first shot

2.5 seconds

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

1.0 second

Time to display a large/superfine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

1.3 seconds

Time to display a large/superfine file already on the memory card.

Shutter response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus Wide

0.51 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at wide angle position.

Full Autofocus Tele

0.61 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at telephoto position.

Prefocused

0.082 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Manual focus
0.202 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused"
Cycle time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large SuperFine JPEG
1.92 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
Small Normal JPEG

1.61 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large SuperFine JPEG

1.04 seconds (0.96 frames per second);
20 frames total;
0.5 second to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.75 second (1.33 frames per second);
20 frames total;
0.5 second to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Continuous mode
Small Normal JPEG

0.76 second (1.32 frames per second);
20 frames total;
0.5 second to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Flash recycling

11.7 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

Download speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

2,364 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a Kingston Ultimate 133x SD memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity also affects cycle times and burst mode performance, with higher ISOs generally increasing cycle times and reducing burst performance.

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS' performance ranges from good to about average, though its flash recycling is markedly slow. Start-up time is reasonable considering the long lens, but not fast. Shutter lag at wide angle and telephoto zoom settings is good, and also quite zippy with "prefocus" (half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure). Shot-to-shot cycle times are a little slower than average these days, at about 1.92 seconds for Large SuperFine JPEGs. However, the camera captures frames continuously at this rate. Likewise, Continuous-mode speed is on the slower side, at just under one frame per second for Large SuperFine JPEGs, increasing to 1.33 frames per second if the quality is dropped to Fine. Again though, the camera captures more than 20 frames at this rate. The flash is quite slow to recycle at 11.7 seconds after a full-power shot, however. Connected to a computer, download speeds are exceptionally fast, so you won't feel a need for a separate card reader. Bottom line, the Canon A720 IS is responsive enough for most family photo opportunities, but its standard continuous shooting mode is a bit slow for sports or wiggly kids. Shoot single shot and prefocus, though and you'll still catch the important moments. Overall performance is pretty good.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Modest battery life with standard AA alkaline cells, but much better life with NiMH rechargeables.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
AA alkaline batteries, LCD on,
(CIPA standard)
140
AA alkaline batteries, LCD off,
(CIPA standard)
500
NiMH rechargeable batteries, LCD on,
(CIPA standard)
400
NiMH rechargeable batteries, LCD off,
(CIPA standard)
900

The Canon PowerShot A720 IS uses two AA batteries for power, and a pair of alkaline batteries is included with the camera. Since runtimes are greatly increased with the NiMH batteries over alkalines, I strongly recommend picking up two sets of good-quality NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good-quality charger, and keeping a spare set freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Canon A720 IS accepts SD/SDHC/MMC memory cards, and a 16MB starter card is included with the camera.

Image Capacity with
16MB Memory Card
SuperFine Fine Normal
3,264 x 2,448
Images
4
7
14
File Size
3.7 MB
1.9 MB
1.1 MB
2,592 x 1,944
Images
5
10
20
File Size
2.7 MB
1.5 MB
762 KB
2,048 x 1,536
Images
9
16
32
File Size
1.7 MB
966 KB
491 KB
1,600 x 1,200
Images
14
26
49
File Size
1.1 MB
610 KB
322 KB
640 x 480
Images
55
85
132
File Size
288 KB
186 KB
119 KB

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/SDHC memory card at least a 1-2GB card, preferably a 4GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

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