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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ15

By: Dave Etchells

Panasonic introduces a four-megapixel digicam with the high quality optics of a 12x Leica lens.

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Page 7:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 10/30/2004

Shutter Lag and 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 collected for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ15:

Panasonic FZ15 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
4.7
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. A little slow.
Shutdown
5.3 - 8
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Also a little slow, although it clears its buffer very quickly, even in continuous-shooting mode.
Play to Record, first shot
0.9
Time until first shot is captured. Pretty fast, at least with the lens set to manual focus mode. (Autofocus would be a fair bit slower.)
Record to play
1.8 / 1.0
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. Fairly fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus, 9-area
1.33 / 1.47
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Quite slow, even for a long-zoom model. (This slowness seems to be limited to the FZ15's 9-area autofocus mode.)
Shutter lag, full autofocus, 3-area 0.53 / 0.99 As above, first time is at full wide-angle, second is at telephoto. First time is quite fast, second time is on the slow side, but not unusually slow for a long-zoom camera.
Shutter lag, full autofocus, wide center zone 0.52 / 0.99 As above, first time is at full wide-angle, second is at telephoto. First time is quite fast, second time is on the slow side, but not unusually slow for a long-zoom camera.
Shutter lag, full autofocus, spot center zone 0.52 / 0.99 As above, first time is at full wide-angle, second is at telephoto. First time is quite fast, second time is on the slow side, but not unusually slow for a long-zoom camera.
Shutter lag, manual focus 0.30 Reasonably fast, but still nothing to brag about.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.039
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Extremely fast.
Cycle Time, TIFF, max resolution

3.38

Time is an average, measured with a Lexar 32x card. No buffer, all shots are this fast. Very fast for a TIFF mode.
Cycle Time, JPG, max/min resolution

0.54 / 0.58

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. Buffer clears after each shot with a 32x Lexar card, slows down to 2.3 seconds/shot after four shots with a non-speed-rated one. (Buy a fast card for use with the FZ15, it can take good advantage of the speed.) NOTE though, that this cycle time depends on using Manual Focus. If you shoot in autofocus mode, the long focusing time will slow the cycle time to 1.2-1.5 seconds per shot.
Cycle Time, continuous High mode 0.27
(3.74 fps)
Shoots at the same rate for large/fine images or "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, takes five shots this fast, clears the buffer in 1.4 seconds, and shoots five more. In TV mode, takes 10 shots this fast, clears the buffer in less than a second, and shoots 10 more. (Buffer-clearing times measured with a Lexar 32x card, slower cards will take correspondingly longer to clear.) Very fast, with decent buffer capacity.
Cycle Time, continuous Low mode 0.47
(2.14 fps)
Shoots at the same rate for large/fine images or "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, takes five shots this fast, clears the buffer in 1.4 seconds, and shoots five more. In TV mode, takes 10 shots this fast, clears the buffer in less than a second, and shoots 10 more. (Buffer-clearing times measured with a Lexar 32x card, slower cards will take correspondingly longer to clear.) Still quite fast, with even better buffer capacity.
Cycle Time, continuous "Infinite" mode 0.40
(2.50 fps)
Shoots at this rate until the memory card is full (provided you're using a fast enough SD card), and clears the buffer in under a second, with either large/fine images or "TV" size images. With a non-speed-rated SD memory card, the camera slowed after 5 shots, eventually settling to a cycle time of 1.8 seconds. With a 32x Lexar SD card, it shot continuously at 2.5 fps until the card was full. Very fast!


The FZ15 for the most part does pretty well in the speed department, provided that you avoid its 9-area autofocus mode. When operating in its 9-area AF mode, the FZ15's shutter lag is positively sluggish, ranging from 1.33 - 1.47 seconds. (Slow even when compared to other long-zoom digicam models.) In any other AF mode though, the shutter lag ranges from 0.52 - 0.99 second as the zoom is varied from wide angle to telephoto. The lag for wide angle focal lengths is quite short, while that for telephoto focal lengths is on the long side of average, but still not bad for a long-zoom digicam. Manual focus lag time is a little better, at 0.30 second, and prefocused, it's positively blazing, at 0.039 second. Cycle times on the other hand are really fast. In manual-focus single-shot mode with a sufficiently fast card (we tested with a Lexar 32x SD card), it can capture large/fine JPEG files to the memory card nonstop, at just over a half-second per shot(!) With slower cards, it'll make you wait a little every 3-4 shots, but it's still very fast. So... If you avoid its 9-area AF mode (which is really best suited to landscapes or still life shots), the FZ15 is a reasonably responsive camera, with excellent cycle times and buffer capacity. And, if you can live with manual focus or prefocusing prior to your shots, the FZ15 would be great for fast-paced action.

 

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