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Canon PowerShot S60

An already sleek 5 megapixel design is updated and improved with a 28mm wide angle lens and new control and menu system.

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Page 7:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 05/10/2004, Updated: 06/28/2004

Shutter Lag and Cycle Times

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 Canon S60:

Canon S60 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
3.2
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. About average.
Shutdown
2.2 - 20
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Faster than average for lens retraction, fairly long for buffer clear, but buffer holds many shots at lowest resolution, so long clearing time is reasonable.
Play to Record, first shot
1.3
Time until first shot is captured. Fairly fast.
Record to play
3.3/1.3
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. Fairly fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.77/0.99
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. About average. (Average is a range of 0.8 - 1.0 seconds.)
Shutter lag, manual focus 0.46 About average
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.084
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

2.43 /
2.23

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for lowest resolution mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 5 shots this fast, then slows to 5.6 seconds per shot, and clears the buffer in 20 seconds. In 640x480 mode, the buffer never fills, and takes only 2 seconds to clear. Pretty good speed for a five-megapixel camera, and a generous buffer memory.
Cycle Time, continuous Low mode, max/min resolution 0.75 / 0.71
(1.33/1.40 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for 640x480 images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 5 shots this fast, then slows to 3.82 seconds per shot, and clears the buffer in 16 seconds. In 640x480 mode, the buffer holds more than 50 shots, and takes 18 seconds to clear. Decent if not spectacular speed.
Cycle Time, continuous High mode, max/min resolution 0.54 / 0.44
(1.84 / 2.26 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for 640x480 images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 6 shots this fast, then slows to 3.56 seconds per shot, and clears the buffer in 20 seconds. In 640x480 mode, the buffer holds more than 50 shots, and takes 17 seconds to clear. Good speed and buffer capacity for a five-megapixel model.
Cycle Time, RAW files, single shot, Continuous Low, and Continuous High modes 2.67 / 1.72 / 1.30 Regardless of the mode, shoots only 2 frames this fast, then slows to 7.52 / 5.84 / 5.76 seconds per shot, respectively. The buffer clears in 7 - 12 seconds. While the S60 only buffers two frames, it's unusual for digicams to buffer RAW-mode images at all, so this is a plus for the S60.

Overall, I'd rate the S60's timing performance as a bit better than average. It starts up and shuts down reasonably quickly, is reasonably fast from shot to shot, and has average shutter response times. It does excel in two areas though, namely prefocused shutter lag and RAW-format cycle times, both of which are quite a bit faster than average. All in all, not a first choice for sports photography, but not a bad performer either, and about the only reasonably compact option on the market for raw-format shooting, if you care at all about cycle times in that mode.

 

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