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"Picky Details" for the Canon PowerShot SD500 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)



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 PowerShot SD500:

Canon PowerShot SD500 Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. Very fast.
1.5 - 6
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Also quite fast.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Good.
Record to play
2.4 / 1.9
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. About average.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.46 / 0.46
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Quite fast, interesting that wide/tele results are the same.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution


Times are averages. Cycle time is about the same for large/fine images or "TV" mode (640x480) images. Clears the buffer after each shot, and maintains this speed until the card fills. Excellent, particularly for a high-resolution, subcompact camera. (Tested with a Lexar 32x SD card, slower cards could introduce some delays.)
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.52
(1.92 fps)
Times are averages. Cycle time is about the same for large/fine images or "TV" mode (640x480) images. Shoots 11 frames this fast in large/fine mode, then slows slightly to about 0.7 seconds per shot. Maintains this rate indefinitely in TV mode. Buffer clears in 4 seconds for large/fine images, 1 second for lowest resolution. Very good, with good buffer depth for a subcompact digital camera. (Tested with a Lexar 32x SD card, slower cards could introduce some delays.)

Very good shutter response, very good shot to shot cycle times. The Canon SD500 is surprisingly fast for a subcompact digital camera, with full-autofocus shutter lag of only 0.45 second regardless of zoom setting, and shot to shot cycle times of 1.25 seconds, with no apparent buffer limit. Most consumer-level digital cameras we test have shutter delays in the range of 0.8-1.0 second, so the SD500 is very fast indeed, particularly impressive given its subcompact size.


The Canon PowerShot SD500 uses a custom rechargeable LiIon battery for power, and has no external power connector, so I couldn't conduct my normal direct power measurements on it. In a simple run-down test though, a fully-charged battery kept the camera running in its highest power-drain mode (capture mode with the LCD illuminated) for 103 minutes. This is actually better than many compact and subcompact models, but I'd still strongly recommend purchasing a second battery along with the camera, and keeping it charged as a spare. (Digicam batteries always die at the worst possible times.)


Storage Capacity

The Canon PowerShot SD500 stores its photos on Secure Digital 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.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 32 MB card at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
32 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
3072 x 2304
(Avg size)
3.2 MB
2.0 MB
950 KB
7:1 11:1 22:1
2592 x 1944
(Avg size)
2.6 MB
1.5 MB
737 KB
6:1 11:1 21:1
2048 x 1536
(Avg size)
1.7 MB
934 KB
475 KB
6:1 10:1 20:1
1600 x 1200 Images
(Avg size)
1.0 MB
589 KB
311 KB
6:1 10:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
278 KB
180 KB
114 KB
3:1 5:1


Download Speed

The Canon PowerShot SD500 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 1239 KBytes/second, a very respectable speed. (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.)

SD500 Review
SD500 Test Images
SD500 Specifications
SD500 "Picky Details"
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