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"Picky Details" for the Sony DSC-H1 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)



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 Sony DSC-H1:

Sony DSC-H1 Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. Fairly fast.
2.4 - 17
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Fairly fast.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Very fast.
Record to play
1.5 / 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. Very fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.28 / 0.78
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Wide angle end is much faster than average, telephoto end is a bit faster than average.

Shutter lag, continuous autofocus

As usual, no benefit for continuous focus with stationary objects. (We have no good way to test performance with moving objects.)
Shutter lag, manual focus
Faster than average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Extremely fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

1.24 / 1.30

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In both modes, shoots this fast continuously, clearing the buffer after each shot. Very good, better than average. (Buffer clearing time dependent on card speed, these times measured with a MemoryStick PRO, ordinary MemorySticks may be slower.)
Cycle Time, Flash exposures (Flash at maximum power output) 9 On the slow side.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.77 / 0.67
(1.31 / 1.49 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. Shoots 9 frames this fast in large/fine mode, clears the buffer in about 4.5 seconds, and is ready for 9 more. In TV mode, shoots more than 100 without stopping, but takes 15 seconds to clear the buffer. (Buffer clearing time dependent on card speed, these times measured with a MemoryStick PRO, ordinary MemorySticks may be slower.) Good speed, good buffer depth.
Cycle Time, Multi burst mode 0.03
(30 fps)
Camera captures 320 x 120 pixel images, stores them in 4x4 arrays inside normal 1280 x 960 files. Frame rate can be set to 30, 15, or 7.5 fps. Clears the buffer in about a second, and is ready for 16 more. Very fast.

Good shutter response, good shot to shot speeds. The Sony DSC-H1 is a pretty fast camera overall, with good startup and shutdown times for a camera with a telescoping lens, good to very good shutter response (full-autofocus shutter delay ranges from 0.28 - 0.78 second), and good shot to shot cycle times (1.24 seconds per large/fine frame). Its shutter lag when "prefocused" by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself is an absolutely blazing 0.011 second. All in all, great speed, especially for a long-zoom model, making the Sony H1 a good choice for shooting sports and other fast-paced action.



Good but not exceptional battery life. The Sony DSC-H1 uses a two AA batteries for power, and two 2100 mAh NiMH batteries and a charger are included with the camera. Because it lacks a standard external power terminal, I couldn't conduct my usual direct power-consumption measurements, so we're dependent on Sony's own rating of the camera in this respect. (At least such rankings are now based on the CIPA standard, and so should be pretty consistent from manufacturer to manufacturer.) Using the included batteries Sony estimates that you can shoot about 290 shots per charge, a pretty reasonable number. Sony also sells 2500 mAh batteries for about $9, which would boost that number to 320. While these are pretty good battery-life numbers, they're somewhat lower than those of some competing models such as the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 (420 shots) and the Canon PowerShot S2 IS (550 shots).


Storage Capacity

The Sony DSC-H1 stores its photos on Memory Stick memory cards or in approximately 32 MB of internal memory, and no card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 64 MB card, preferably a 128 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings. Make sure you get a MemoryStick PRO though, if you want to take advantage of the H1's powerful movie mode.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored in the internal memory at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
32 MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
2592 x 1944
(Avg size)
2.6 MB
1.4 MB
6:1 11:1
2048 x 1536
(Avg size)
1.6 MB
903 KB
6:1 11:1
1280 x 960
(Avg size)
668 KB
368 KB
6:1 10:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
167 KB
67 KB
6:1 14:1


Download Speed

The Sony DSC-H1 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony desktop running Windows XP (Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz), I clocked it at 5476 KBytes/second, an astonishingly fast rate. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast v1.1 interfaces run as high as 600 KB/s. Cameras with USB v2.0 interfaces run as fast as several megabytes/second. - Whatever they're doing differently, Sony's recent digital cameras have all be extremely fast when downloading to a USB v2.0-equipped computer.)


H1 Review
H1 Test Images
H1 Specifications
H1 "Picky Details"
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