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"Picky Details" for the Olympus SP-310 Digital Camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

 

Timing

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, we routinely measure both shutter delay and shot to shot cycle times for all cameras we test, using a test system Dave designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers we collected for the Olympus SP-310:

Olympus SP-310 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
1.5
LCD turns on and lens extends forward.
Shutdown
1.8 - 14
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time.
Play to Record, first shot
1.2
Time until first shot is captured.
Record to play
6.7 / 2.6
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.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.88 / 0.69
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.144
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button.
Shutter lag, continuous autofocus
0.711
As usual, continuous AF mode offers little or no increase in speed for static subjects. It might help with a moving subject, but we have no way to consistently measure performance with moving subjects.
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.485
For most cameras, shutter lag is considerably less in manual focus than autofocus, but not nearly as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

2.17 /
2.10

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 4 frames this fast, then slows to an irregular pace of about 4.6 seconds per frame. Buffer clears in 12 seconds. In TV mode, maintains this pace indefinitely, clearing the buffer after each shot.
Cycle Time, RAW 11.63 Camera pauses after each shot to process and clear the buffer.*
Cycle Time, Flash exposures 8 (Flash at maximum power output)
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.78 / 0.68
(1.28 / 1.46 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 4 frames this fast, then stops. Buffer clears in 12 seconds. In TV mode, maintains this pace for more than 50 shots, and clears the buffer in 11 seconds.*
Cycle Time, continuous High mode, max/min resolution 0.4
(2.5 fps)
Times are the same for large/fine files or "TV" size images. Times are averages. In both modes, shoots two frames and stops. Buffer clears in 7 seconds for large/fine files, 3 seconds for TV size files.*
Cycle Time, continuous AF mode, max/min resolution 1.52 / 1.70
(0.66 / 0.59 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 4 frames this fast, then stops. Buffer clears in 1 seconds. In TV mode, maintains this pace for more than 20 shots, and clears the buffer in 11 seconds.*
* Note - These timings were collected with a fast 133x Kingston SD memory card. Slower cards could result in shorter run lengths in continuous mode and longer buffer clearing times.

 

The Olympus SP-310's overall performance is on the slow side of average, though its startup time is pretty good at 1.5 seconds. Shutter lag at wide angle is a little laggardly at 0.88 second, though it speeds up slightly at telephoto. "Prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure results in a more zippy time of 0.144 second. Shot to shot cycle times are decent if not impressive, at about 2.17 seconds for large/fine JPEGs, and it only captures up to four shots this quickly before it has to slow down to an irregular pace of around 4.6 seconds per frame. Continuous-mode speed is slower than average, at about 1.28 frames/second, for up to four shots in succession. Switching to High Speed mode speeds up the process a good bit, to 0.4 second or 2.5 frames per second, but you're limited to only two frames per series. The flash takes about eight seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, also somewhat slow. Connected to a computer, download speeds are very fast, so you won't really need a separate card reader. Bottom line, while not a first choice for sports or other fast-paced action, the SP-310 should handle average consumer shooting needs pretty well, though you might want a faster continuous mode (or one permitting more shots in a series) for kid photography. 

 

Power

The Olympus SP-310 uses two AA batteries for power, and ordinary alkaline batteries are included with the camera.

Operating Mode
Power
(@3.4 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(two 1600 mA cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
485 mA
140
Capture Mode, no LCD
350 mA
194
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
604 mA
112
Half-pressed w/o LCD
458 mA
148
Memory Write (transient)
510 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1250 mA
n/a
Image Playback
208 mA
325

The Olympus SP-310 uses two AA batteries for power, and ordinary alkaline batteries are included with the camera. The table above shows maximum run times based on our power measurements and "standard" 1600 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. (Note though, that current high-capacity NiMH cells can easily deliver 25% more capacity than the cells referenced. - A run time in capture mode of almost 220 minutes is quite good, particularly for a 2-cell camera.) To get the best run times from the camera, you'll definitely want to pick up a couple of sets of high-capacity NIMH AA cells, and a good-quality charger.

(NOTE: In our testing, we found the Olympus SP-310 to be very finicky about battery voltage, to the point that it would run for only a very short time on NiMH rechargeable cells. When we contacted Olympus about this, we learned that a firmware patch would adjust the camera's cutoff voltage to a lower level, appropriate for NiMH batteries. If your sample of the SP-310 seems to have poor battery life on rechargeable NiMH cells, visit the Olympus website to download the version 1.3 firmware update.)

 

Storage Capacity

The Olympus SP-310 stores its photos on xD memory cards or in approximately 25MB of internal memory, and no card is included with the camera. (We strongly recommend buying at least a 128 MB card, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored internal memory at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
25 MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
RAW
3072 x 2304 Images
(Avg size)
5
5.2 MB
15
1.8 MB
2
10.7 MB
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1 2:1
2592 x 1944 Images
(Avg size)
7
3.7 MB
21
1.3 MB
-
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1 -
2288 x 1712 Images
(Avg size)
9
2.9 MB
27
981 KB
-
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1 -
2048 x 1536 Images
(Avg size)
11
2.3 MB
33
785 KB
-
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1 -
1600 x 1200 Images
(Avg size)
18
1.4 MB
53
497 KB
-
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1 -
1280 x 960 Images
(Avg size)
28
914 KB
82
320 KB
-
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1 -
1024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
44
594 KB
127
208 KB
-
Approx.
Compression
4:1 11:1 -
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
110
240 KB
275
96 KB
-
Approx.
Compression
4:1 10:1 -

 

Download Speed

The Olympus SP-310 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony desktop running Windows XP (Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz), we clocked it at 2269 KBytes/second. (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.)

SP310 Review
SP310 Test Images
SP310 Specifications
SP310 "Picky Details"
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