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"Picky Details" for the Olympus SP-350 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, 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 Olympus SP-350:

Olympus SP-350 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
2.0
LCD turns on and lens extends forward.
Shutdown
1.7 - 15
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time.
Play to Record, first shot
2.8
Time until first shot is captured.
Record to play
7.2 / 1.2
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
1.22 / 1.17
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.404
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button.
Shutter lag, continuous autofocus
1.39
-
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.95
-
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

2.19 /
2.26

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 13 seconds. In TV mode, maintains this pace indefinitely, clearing the buffer after each shot.
Cycle Time, RAW 12.12 Camera pauses after each shot to process and clear the buffer.
Cycle Time, Flash exposures 5 (Flash at maximum power output)
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 1.17 / 0.95
(0.85 / 1.06 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 11 seconds. In TV mode, maintains this pace for more than 50 shots, and clears the buffer in 2 seconds.
Cycle Time, continuous High mode, max/min resolution 0.65 / 0.67
(1.54 / 1.49 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. In both modes, shoots two frames and stops. Buffer clears in 7 seconds for large/fine files, 2 seconds for TV size files.
Cycle Time, continuous AF mode, max/min resolution 2.04 / 1.8
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 9 seconds. In TV mode, maintains this pace for more than 20 shots, and clears the buffer in 6 seconds.

 

Power

The Olympus SP-350 uses two AA batteries for power, and ordinary alkaline batteries are included with the camera.
(NOTE: We found the Olympus SP-350 to be very finicky about battery voltage, to the point that it would run for only a very short time on NiMH rechargeable cells. If you're considering it, you'll need to factor in the cost of single-use alkaline batteries over the life of the camera.)

Operating Mode
Power
(@3.4 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(two 1600 mA cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
490 mA
138
Capture Mode, no LCD
354 mA
191
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
594 mA
114
Half-pressed w/o LCD
448 mA
151
Memory Write (transient)
521 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1146 mA
n/a
Image Playback
211 mA
320

Storage Capacity

The Olympus SP-350 stores its photos on xD memory cards or in approximately 25MB of internal memory, and no 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 internal memory at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
25 MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
RAW
3264 x 2448 Images
(Avg size)
4
5.7 MB
13
2.0 MB
2
12.2 MB
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1 2:1
2592 x 1944 Images
(Avg size)
7
3.5 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-350 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 2138 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.)

 

SP350 Review
SP350 Test Images
SP350 Specifications
SP350 "Picky Details"
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