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Canon EOS-1D Mark II

Canon doubles the resolution of their speed demon SLR, while actually increasing its speed and cutting image noise. Amazing!

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Page 10:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 01/27/2005

Shutter Lag / Cycle Times

When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time or delay before the shutter actually fires. This corresponds to the time required for the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is rarely reported on (and even more rarely reported accurately), and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I routinely measure both shutter delay and shot to shot cycle times for all cameras I test, using a test system I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers I measured for the Canon EOS-1D Mark II:

Canon EOS-1D Mark II Timings
Power On -> First shot
Quite fast, if not exactly blazing.
~0 - 73
First time is simple shutdown, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Second time is quite long, but corresponds to writing 18 files in RAW + JPEG mode.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Very fast.
Record to play
1.9 / 0.4
First time is that required to display a large/fine file immediately after capture, second time is that needed to display a large/fine file that has already been processed and stored on the memory card. First time isn't especially fast for a camera of this caliber, but still not bad. Second time is quite good.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.20 / 0.24
First time is at 16mm, second is at 35mm with 16-35 mm f/2.8 EF lens. Times will obviously vary greatly with different lenses, but this is quite fast nonetheless.
Shutter lag, manual focus
Very fast.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max resolution

0.6 (1.65 fps)

Times are averages. Shoots 55 shots this fast in single-shot mode, then slows to about 0.8 fps. Buffer clears in 36 seconds with a Lexar 80x CF card.
Cycle Time, continuous High mode, max/min resolution 0.124
(8.1 fps)
Shoots at the same rate for large/fine files or "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, slows to 0.84 fps after 33 frames and clears the buffer in 38 seconds. In TV mode, gradually slows to 2.5 fps after 63 frames and clears the buffer in 26 seconds. All times measured with a Lexar 80x CF card.
Cycle Time, continuous Low mode, max resolution 0.33
(3.0 fps)
Times are averages. Shoots 41 frames this fast, then slows to 0.84 fps. Buffer clears in 38 seconds. Times measured with a Lexar 80x CF card. (Low continuous mode speed can be programmed anywhere from 3 to 8 fps via a personal function menu item, in conjunction with Canon EOS Viewer software. 3 fps is the factory default.)
Cycle Time, continuous RAW mode 0.123
(8.1 fps)
Times are averages. Shoots 19 RAW frames this fast, then slows to about 3 seconds per frame. Buffer clears in 55 seconds. Shoots 18 RAW+JPG frames this fast, then slows to about 4 seconds per frame. Buffer clears in 73 seconds. Above times measured with Lexar 80x CF card. Buffer clearing is about 20% slower with a 4x memory card, 10% faster to non-speed rated Lexar SD card, 29% faster to a SanDisk Ultra II SD card.

No question about it, the EOS-1D Mark II is the fastest pro SLR we've tested to date. Every parameter is fast, from shutter lag and AF performance to shot-to-shot cycle times. It does take advantage of fast memory cards to clear its buffer memory more quickly, but the difference between 4x and 80x cards is only about 20%. More interestingly, its SD card interface seems to be consistently slightly faster than the CF slot. (Bottom line though, the 1D Mark II has such a large buffer and clears it so quickly with almost any modern memory card, card speed and buffer clearing aren't likely to be an issue for the majority of users.)


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