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"Picky Details" for the Sony DSC-P31 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

 

Timing
I measure both cycle times and shutter delay times, using a special test system I built for the purpose. Here are the numbers I collected for the Sony DSC-P31:

Sony DSC-P31 Timings
Operation
Time (secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
2.05
Average to slightly slower than average for a camera with a non-telescoping lens.
Shutdown
1.17
Fairly fast, but slower than some cameras with non-telescoping lenses.
Play to Record, first shot
0.64
Time until first shot is captured. Very fast.
Record to play
1.35
Time to display a large/fine file after capture. Quite fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.97
About average
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.59
A bit slower than average. (Average is ~0.5)
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.15
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Quite fast. (Average is ~0.3)
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
1.82/2.23
Quite fast. First number is for large/fine files, second is for small/normal ones. (Yes, for some reason, the camera seems to cycle slightly slower with small files than with large ones.) There's either no buffer memory, or it has a capacity of more than 10 shots: There was no slowdown up to 10 shots.

Overall, the P31 is pretty fast camera, fairly quick in startup and shutdown times, and very fast between shots, although shutter delay is only about average.While I didn't try to exercise it beyond an 10-shot series, it appears that there's either no buffer memory, or the buffer holds more than 10 large/fine shots. Whatever the case, up to at least the 10 shot limit I tested, there was no slowdown in the very fast 1.8 second shot to shot cycle time. Quite impressive.

 

File Download
The P31 is also very fast when it comes to downloading images from it to a host computer. I clocked it at 640 KBytes/second on my aging Pentium II workhorse, making it among the fastest cameras on the market in terms of file transfer.

 

Power
Unlike most Sony digicams, the P31 (along with its siblings the P51 and P71) uses two AA cells for its power source. This normally means rather short run times, but Sony seems to have done an unusually good job of controlling power consumption in these latest P-series cameras. Worst-case runtime is about an hour and forty minutes, with high-capacity NiMH batteries and the camera operating in capture mode with the LCD left on. With the LCD off, capture-mode power drops almost in half, yielding roughly 3.3 hours of run time in that mode. Playback time is excellent too, at something over 2 hours. Very good indeed, but as always, I strongly recommend buying several sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger.

Operating Mode
Power
(@4.2 volts)
Est. Minutes
(2 1600mAh AAs)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
536 mA
102
Capture Mode, no LCD
278 mA
196
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
437 mA
125
Half-pressed w/o LCD
280 mA
195
Memory Write (transient)
521 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1041 mA
n/a
Image Playback
403 mA
135

 

Overall, not too bad for a 2-battery camera. Get a set of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger and you'll be able to shoot for quite a while on one charge. Click here to read a review of the battery charger I routinely recommend to readers.

 

Storage Capacity
Argh! I knew I was forgetting something as I rushed to get the evaluation sample of this camera back to Sony in time for the PMS 2002 show! (Along with the P51 and P71 as well) - I neglected to check the storage capacity vs file size/quality settings! I'll try to remember to do this when I get a full production unit back in a little while. (No promises, but I'll try...)

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