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"Picky Details" for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

 

Timing

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 Cyber-shot DSC-P200:

 

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
1.4
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. Quite fast.
Shutdown
1.3 - 22
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. First time is quite fast. Second time is long, but corresponds to clearing the buffer after 100 consecutive small/basic shots in continuous shooting mode.
Play to Record, first shot
0.1
Time until first shot is captured. Almost immediate, very fast.
Record to play
2.7 / 0.2
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 is average, second time is very fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.30 / 0.55
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Very fast, better than most full-sized digital cameras, regardless of price range.

Shutter lag, continuous autofocus

0.310
As usual, continuous autofocus mode doesn't help with shutter lag for static subjects. (Still pretty fast though.)
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.211
Very fast.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.013
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Extremely fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

1.44 / 1.27

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In both modes, clears the buffer after each shot, and maintains this rate indefinitely. Very fast, especially for a compact digital camera model. (Times measured with a 256MB Lexar Memory Stick Pro card.)
Cycle Time, burst mode, max/min resolution 1.05 / 0.92 (0.95 / 1.09 fps) First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots five shots this fast, clears the buffer in 6.8 seconds, and is ready for five more. In TV mode, shoots over 100 shots this fast and takes 21 seconds to clear the buffer. Fast but not blazingly so, but buffer capacity for small/basic images is impressive. (Times measured with a 256MB Lexar Memory Stick Pro card.)
Cycle Time, Multi burst mode 0.03
(30 fps)
Camera captures 320x240 pixel images, stores them in 4x4 arrays inside normal 1280x960 files. Rate can be set to 30, 15, or 7.5 frames per second. Buffer clears almost immediately. Extremely fast.

 

Very good shutter lag and cycle time, particularly for a compact model. Like most of Sony's current digicam models, the DSC-P200 is very responsive to the shutter, with full-autofocus lag times that range from 0.30 to 0.55 seconds, and a blazing 0.013 (!) shutter lag in when prefocused by half-pressing and holding the shutter button before the shot itself. Cycle times are also excellent for a 7-megapixel camera, regardless of size, at 1.44 seconds/shot in single shot mode, with no apparent buffer limitation, and 1 frame/second for five-shot bursts. Its "multi-burst" mode captures 16 small images at a time, at rates as high as 30 frames/second. All in all, a great performer, all the more surprising given its diminutive size. (For those comparing the two models, the DSC-P200 is slightly faster starting up and shutting down than the previous P150, a bit faster from shot to shot, and much faster at downloading images. Shutter lag numbers are virtually identical between the two models.)

 

Power

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 uses a custom rechargeable LiIon battery for power. Its custom power connector prevented me from measuring its power drain directly, but Sony's InfoLITHIUM battery technology is very accurate when predicting remaining battery life. The numbers in the table below were what the camera displayed as remaining run time with a fully-charged battery

 

Operating Mode
Battery Life
Still-image capture mode 202 minutes
Movie capture mode:
640 Fine
119 minutes
Movie capture mode:
640 Standard
145 minutes
Movie capture mode:
160
162 minutes
Playback mode
402 minutes (!)

Really excellent battery life for a compact digicam. Thanks to Sony's InfoLithium battery technology, the P200 showed really excellent battery life compared to other compact digicams (actually, it's very good compared to any size digicam), with 202 minutes projected runtime in capture mode with the LCD on, and 402 minutes in playback mode. As always though, I still recommend purchasing a second battery along with the camera, but with the P200, this is much less of a consideration than it normally is. (Interestingly, the P200 consumes more power in its higher-quality movie modes than in lower-quality ones. Even at the highest quality movie setting though, it still provides nearly 2 hours of continuous shooting on a fully-charged battery.)

 

Storage Capacity

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 stores its photos on Memory Stick memory cards, and a 32 MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 128 MB card, preferably a 256 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) Note too, that you need to purchase a Memory Stick Pro in order to use the P200's highest-quality movie mode. The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 32 MB card at each size/quality setting.

 

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
32 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
3072 x 2304
Images
(Avg size)
8
3.8 MB
16
1.9 MB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 11:1
2592 x 1944
Images
(Avg size)
11
2.7 MB
22
1.4 MB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 11:1
2048 x 1536
Images
(Avg size)
18
1.7 MB
33
952 KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 10:1
1280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
45
705 KB
82
387 KB
Approx.
Compression
5:1 10:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
181
176 KB
454
70 KB
Approx.
Compression
5:1 13:1

 

 

Download Speed

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 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 2112 KBytes/second, a very 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.)

 

P200 Review
P200 Test Images
P200 Specifications
P200 "Picky Details"
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