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"Picky Details" for the Canon PowerShot S400 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

Timing
Because they're such critical performance parameters (that are so seldom reported on), I routinely 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 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the Canon PowerShot S400:

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.

Canon PowerShot S400 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
2.69
Canon startup screen appears and lens extends forward. Fairly fast.
Shutdown
2.2
Lens retracts. Pretty fast.
Play to Record, first shot
2.01
Time until first shot is captured. Average.
Record to play
1.25
Time to display a large/fine file after capture. Fairly fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.94/0.97
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. About average average. ("Average" ranges from 0.8-1.1 seconds. Pretty poor IMHO, but that seems to be where the digicam market is at...)
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.104
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
1.70/1.74
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Times are averages. Camera has room in its buffer memory for five large/fine shots before slowing to ~3.5 seconds per shot. I didn't find any limit in small/basic mode. Better than average cycle time for a compact digicam.
Cycle Time, normal continuous mode, max/min resolution
0.67/0.68
(1.49/1.48 fps)
First number is for large/fine, second is for small/basic files. Numbers beneath are corresponding frames per second. A little slow for a "continuous" mode. Buffer holds five large/fine shots before the camera must slow to ~ 2.5 seconds per shot. In small/basic mode, I didn't find a limit to buffer capacity after 100+ shots, but did notice camera "hesitating" for a fraction of a second every 10 shots or so. Like most digicams I've tested, the S400 takes slightly longer between the first two shots than between subsequent ones. (0.84 seconds in large/fine mode, 0.91 seconds in small/basic.)
Cycle Time, normal continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.49/0.41
(2.08/2.48 fps)
First number is for large/fine, second is for small/basic files. Numbers beneath are corresponding frames per second.Pretty fast, particularly for a compact digicam. Buffer holds three large/fine shots before the camera must slow to ~ 2.3 seconds per shot. In small/basic mode, I didn't find a limit to buffer capacity after 100+ shots, but did notice camera "hesitating" for a fraction of a second occasionally. Like most digicams I've tested, the S400 takes slightly longer between the first two shots than between subsequent ones. (0.56 seconds in large/fine mode, 0.61 seconds in small/basic.)


Overall, the S400 shows roughly average shutter lag and cycle times. ("Average" shutter lag is way too slow IMHO, but I can't single out the S400 as being any slower than most digicams I've tested.) Shutter response is very fast though, when the camera is "prefocused" by half-pressing and holding the shutter button before the shot itself. Cycle times are quite respectable for a compact digicam, as are continuous-mode speeds.

Power
The PowerShot S400 uses one Li-ion rechargeable battery for power. Unfortunately, I couldn't measure its power consumption as I generally do, because it uses a nonstandard "dummy battery" power adapter connection. I did time how long the camera would run from a freshly-charged battery in its worst-case power consumption mode (capture mode with the LCD turned on), and found that it turned in a slightly shorter than average (for a compact digicam) run time of approximately 60 minutes. As always, I strongly advise purchasing a second battery along with the S400, so you can bring along a fully charged spare on long outings.

 

Storage Capacity
The PowerShot S400 stores its photos on CompactFlash memory cards, and a 32MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 64MB card, preferably a 128MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 32MB card at each size/quality setting.

 

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
32MB Memory Card
Fine
Normal
Economy
2,272 x 1,704 Images
(Avg size)
15
2081KB
27
1158KB
55
580KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 10:1 20:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
30
1041KB
54
584KB
108
296KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 10:1 20:1
1,024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
53
597KB
95
337KB
173
185KB
Approx.
Compression
4:1
7:1
13:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
119
267KB
194
164KB
338
94KB
Approx.
Compression
4:1
6:1
10:1

 

Download Speed
The PowerShot S400 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my 2.4 GHz Sony VAIO desktop (Windows XP), I clocked it at 505 KBytes/second. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast ones run as high as 600 KB/s.)

 

S400 Review
S400 Test Images
S400 Specifications
S400 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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