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Canon EOS-1D

Canon leaps into the professional SLR arena, with the fastest digital SLR on the planet!

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Page 7:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 12/08/2001

Shutter Lag / Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows 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 almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure it using a special electronic test setup.

EOS-1D Timings
Time (secs)
Power On -> First shot
Very fast startup.
Time to finish writing large/fine file.
Play to Record, first shot
Very fast - only normal shutter lag, camera is always ready to shoot.
Record to play
Quite fast, time for display of large/fine file.
Shutter lag, full autofocus, "awake"
AF time will obviously vary greatly with lens. This was with 28-70mm L-series.
Shutter lag, full autofocus, "asleep"
AF time isn't affected much when the camera is in it's "semi-sleep" mode.
Shutter lag, manual focus, "awake"
The 55msec shutter lag Canon touts obviously applies only in manual focus mode. (Since lens AF will be variable.)
Shutter lag, manual focus, "asleep"
Note though, that shutter lag in manual focus gets quite a bit longer when the camera goes into its "semi sleep" mode after about 2 seconds of no control actuation.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Zounds! This is *really* fast: This is the time when the camera is prefocused by half-pressing and holding the shutter before the shot itself.
Cycle time, single shot mode
Extremely fast - seemed to be more limited by how fast our finger was than by the camera itself.
Cycle time, continuous "H" mode
(7.7 frames/sec)
Very fast! Just a shade off the 8.0 fps claimed by Canon. (We're happy to give them 0.3 fps of leeway though.) 21 frame burst for most settings, 16 frames for RAW mode, 14 frames for ISOs greater than 800. Buffer clears in 20 seconds with fast 12x memory card, 34 seconds with ordinary one. See text below for odd behavior with fast/slow memory cards!
Cycle time, continuous "L" mode
(3.0 frames/sec)
3 fps as claimed. Interestingly, a fast card gives much longer runs before buffer fills.

No question about it, the EOS-1D 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.

We encountered some very interestingbehavior when we tested the 1D's performance with fast & slow memory cards. We used an old Kingston 64 megabyte card as the "slow" one, and a Lexar 256MB 12x card as the "fast" one. As you'd expect, the buffer cleared more quickly with the faster card, albeit not nearly in proportion to the difference in the cards' claimed write speeds. With the Kingston card, the buffer took about 34 seconds to empty vs 20 for the Lexar.

Where the real twist came in was when we shot in RAW or RAW/L modes (the latter being the mode that saves both a RAW and large/fine JPEG file at the same time). We were very surprised to find that the 1D would only capture 8 frames in RAW mode or 4 in RAW/L mode with the Kingston card when set to either motor drive speed! With the Lexar 12x card, we got the full 16 frames that Canon says the buffer is good for. This was very surprising because the buffer memory should eliminate any influence of card speed on the capture process. Memory card speed thus appears to be a very important consideration when using the 1D in motor-drive mode! (You heard it here first.)

A little less startling, although still underscoring the importance of high-speed memory cards for the EOS-1D, was our observation of the dependence of maximum run length on card speed in low-speed motor drive mode. Since the camera can write data to the memory card even while it's capturing new images, a fast memory card can extend run lengths considerably. In high-speed mode, there's little effect, but at the 3fps motor drive speed, we found that the Lexar card delivered run lengths of 30 shots, to the Kingston card's 22.

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