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"Picky Details" for the Olympus D-520 Zoomdigital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)
Posted on 8/27/02

 

Timing
I measure both cycle times and shutter delay times for cameras I test, using a special test system I built for the purpose. Here are the numbers I collected for the Olympus D-520 Zoom:

 

Olympus D-520 Zoom Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
3.56
Not bad for a camera with a telescoping lens.
Shutdown
3.16
Ditto.
Play to Record, first shot
1.65
Pretty fast.
Record to play
2.06
Time to display a large/fine file after capture. Fairly fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.95/1.05
First time is for wide angle zoom setting, second is for telephoto. About average for this class of camera. (Which means "too slow", IMHO. - I really want to see all digicams get a lot faster on shutter response.)
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.18
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast. (Average is about 0.3 seconds.)
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
2.79/2.43
First numbers are for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Average to a bit faster than average.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution
0.89/0.49
No surprice, slower for large files than small ones. Both times are fairly fast for an entry-level camera. Three large/fine frames before you have to wait 3 seconds for the buffer memory to clear. With small/basic files though, you can shoot over 80 frame (!) at 2 frames per second befor having to wait.

 

While I'd class the D-520 Zoom as an "entry level" camera, it's no slouch in the speed department. Shutter lag in full autofocus is only average, but startup and shutdown are reasonably fast, and prefocus shutter lag is better than average. Cycle times are good for an inexpensive camera model, at least partly the result of the three-frame buffer memory. (Many inexpensive cameras lack buffer memory, which significantly hurts their shot to shot speed.) Particularly surprising was the large number of frames (over 80) the camera can capture in continuous mode, at a rate of 2 frames per second, albeit at its lowest image quality setting. While the D-520's shutter lag is average, I'll take this opportunity to climb on my soapbox and rant that *all* digicam shutter lag is *way* too long. WHY can't digicam makers lick this problem? It's the single biggest limitation of consumer-level digital photography! (Ok, I'm climbing back down now, back to the normal review...)

File Download
The D-520 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my 500 MHz PowerMac G4 (OS 9.1), I clocked it at 377 KBytes/second. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast ones run as high as 600 KB/s.)

 

 

Power
The D-520 Zoom is powered by a set of two AA batteries. Although its battery life is very good, I still *strongly* recommend that users purchase a couple of sets high-capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good charger.

 

Operating Mode
Power
(@3 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(Two 1600 mAh NiMH cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
353 mA
217
Capture Mode, no LCD
6.4 mA
200+ Hours(!)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
357 mA
215
Half-pressed w/o LCD
262 mA
292
Memory Write (transient)
405 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
766 mA
n/a
Image Playback
230 mA
334

 

Battery life on the D-520 Zoom is really excellent, particularly for a camera that runs from only two AA cells. The best part is that (like many Olympus cameras), the D-520 Zoom consumes almost no power when its LCD is turned off. With a good set of true 1600 mAh-capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries, you should see a run time of about 3 hours and 37 minutes in its worst-case power-drain mode. (In capture mode, with the LCD turned on.) In playback mode, you should see as much as 5 hours and 30 minutes of continuous operation. In capture mode with the LCD turned off though, the camera will run for literally days without appreciable battery drain.

Even with exceptional battery life though, I still recommend getting a couple of sets of good NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good charger. - Battery power in digicams obeys Murphy's Law to a "T," meaning the batteries always run out at the worst possible moment. Use high-capacity rechargeables, and always keep a fully charged set in your pocket or camera bag, in addition to the set in the camera. To see which batteries are best, visit my "shootout" page for NiMH AA cells, and read my review of the Maha C-204F, to learn about my favorite battery charger.

 

Storage Capacity
The D-520 stores its photos on SmartMedia memory cards. I strongly recommend buying at least a 32MB card, preferably a 64 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings, particularly since I recommend you shoot in "SHQ" mode most of the time with the D-520 Zoom - Its 12:1 compression in HQ mode is a bit high, and could produce visible artifacts in your photos. (On the other hand, if you're only going to be printing at 4x6 inches, HQ mode will do just fine.) A 32 MB card will store about 22 images in SHQ mode, a 64 MB one about 44 shots. The chart below shows how many images can be stored on a 16MB card at each size/quality setting.

 

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
16 MB Memory Card
Fine
Normal
Full Resolution 1600x1200 Images
(Avg size)
11
1.4 MB
33
485 KB
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1
XGA Resolution 1024x768 Images
(Avg size)
n/a
58
274 KB
Approx.
Compression
n/a
9:1
VGA Resolution 640x480
Images
(Avg size)
n/a
99
161 KB
Approx.
Compression
n/a
6:1

 

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