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"Picky Details" for the Sony DSC-P8 Digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

Timing
I measure both cycle times and shutter delay times, using a test system I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 01 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the DSC-P8:

NOTE: My qualitative characterizations of camera performance below (that is, "reasonably fast," "about average," etc.) are meant to be relative to other cameras of similar price and general capabilities. Thus, the same shutter lag that's "very fast" for a low-end consumer camera might be characterized as "quite slow" if I encountered it on a professional model. The comments are also intended as only a quick reference: If performance specs are critical for you, rely on the absolute numbers to compare cameras, rather than my purely qualitative comments.

Sony DSC-P8 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
2.89
Startup screen appears and lens moves into position. About average.
Shutdown
3.29
Lens retracts. About average.
Play to Record, first shot
0.65
Time until first shot is captured. Quite fast.
Record to play
0.78
Time to display a large/fine file after capture. Quite fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.64/0.70
First number is wide angle, second is full telephoto. Much faster than average, most cameras I've tested are above 0.8 seconds.
Shutter lag, manual preset focus
0.316
A bit faster than average. (Average for manually focused cameras is about 0.5 seconds.)
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.127
Delay after shutter button is half-pressed and held. Faster than average.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
1.25/1.47
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Very fast. Camera has a 4-shot buffer for large/fine files, essentially unlimited for small/basic ones. After four large/fine files, shot to shot cycle time slows to about 2 seconds. (Still pretty fast.)
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution
0.43
(2.3 fps)
Cycle time in "burst two" mode is independent of file size, although as you'd expect from the name, you can only capture 2 frames before waiting for the Memory Stick to catch up. (Odd, given the 4-frame buffer I observed above.)

Overall, the Sony DSC-P8 is a surprisingly fast camera, and its shutter lag is much better than I'm accustomed to seeing. It starts up and shuts down quickly, has excellent shutter lag numbers, cycles between shots quickly, and even has a generous four-frame buffer. The only negative point is that its continuous-mode performance is limited to a maximum of two shots in sequence. This is especially baffling, given that it appears to have a full four-frame buffer, based on my single-shot timing tests. No digital cameras really do very well with fast action, but the P8 will do much better than most.

Power
The Sony DSC-P8 uses a single, custom lithium-ion battery pack for its power source, and shows pretty good power consumption for a compact digicam. Despite the generally good battery life though, I still strongly advise purchasing a second battery and packing it along on outings.

The table below shows the DSC-P8's power consumption in various modes, and approximate run times for each, based on a lithium-ion battery with a 2.4 Watt-Hour capacity:

 

Operating Mode
Power
(@3.6 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(One 2.4 watt-hour Li-Ion cell)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
482 mA
83
Capture Mode, no LCD
288 mA
139
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
505 mA
79
Half-pressed w/o LCD
295 mA
136
Memory Write (transient)
520 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
904 mA
n/a
Image Playback
463 mA
87

 

Storage Capacity
The DSC-P8 stores its photos on Sony Memory Sticks, and a 16MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 32MB Stick, preferably a 64MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 16MB card at each size/quality setting, along with the average images sizes and approximate compression ratios..

 

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
16MB Memory Card
Fine
Normal
2,048 x 1,536 Images
(Avg size)
10
1,561 KB
20
865 KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1
11:1
1,632 x 1,224 Images
(Avg size)
16
970 KB
38
520 KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1
12:1
1,280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
25
634 KB
38
342 KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1
11:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
98
162 KB
99
65 KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1
14:1

 

Download Speed
The DSC-P8 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony VAIO desktop (2.4 GHz Pentium IV, Windows XP), I clocked it at 1032 KBytes/second. This is *very* fast as USB-connected cameras go. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast ones run 600 KB/s or a little more.) - I suspect that the P8 has a USB 2.0 interface, although the manual makes no mention of it.

 

DSC-P8 Review
DSC-P8 Test Images
DSC-P8 Specifications
DSC-P8 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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