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Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom

Olympus enters the 8 megapixel arena with a feature-packed body and fast f/2.4-3.5 5x zoom lens.

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Page 7:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 02/12/2004, Updated: 05/07/04

Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time is to allow 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 only rarely reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I routinely measure it using a test setup I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled timing, with a resolution of 0.001 second.)


Olympus C8080 Wide Zoom Timings

Time (secs)
Power On -> First shot
Pretty fast.
Time to retract lens, assuming no card writes pending. Quite fast. Buffer clear times are generally on the order of 20 seconds or less, before the card can be removed, but can stretch as long as 60 seconds plus, for RAW images.
Play to Record, first shot
Quite fast.
Record to play (max/min res)
Top pair of numbers are for large/fine files, bottom pair are for small/basic. First number of each pair is for immediate switch to playback mode after capture, second is for switch after camera is done processing. A little slow for a camera of this caliber.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
First time is with lens set at wide angle, second time is with lens set to telephoto. Both times are quite fast, thanks no doubt to the hybrid autofocus system.
Shutter lag, continuous autofocus 0.56 As is generally the case with cameras I've tested, continuous autofocus doesn't improve the shutter lag at all for stationary subjects.
Shutter lag, manual focus
On the slow side of average for this class of camera.
Shutter lag, prefocus
About average for a high-end prosumer digicam these days.
Cycle Time, CF card, max/min res

Cycle time of 2.32 seconds, slowing to average of 4.19 after 9 shots. Buffer clears in 17 secs. (Tested with Lexar 24x CF card.)

Cycle Time, xD card, max res 2.35/5.34 Cycle time of 2.35 slowing to 5.34 after 9 shots. Buffer clears in 28 secs. (Tested with Olympus 128 MB xD card, xD cards should all be the same speed.)
Cycle Time, RAW file format, CF card 13.9 No buffering of RAW images, all shots require the same time.
Cycle Time, High Speed continuous mode, RAW/max/min res.
24x CF card,
Olympus 128MB xD card

(1.67 fps) regardless of resolution


Cycle times are independent of type of card used, only buffer clearing time varies. Shoots 5 shots, then stops, you have to release and re-press the shutter button (after the buffer has at least partially cleared) before it will capture more images. Buffer clears in 62 seconds for RAW files, 17 seconds for SHQ, 8 seconds for lowest-size/quality SQ. xD card clears in 64/16/8 seconds respectively. Reasonably fast, but very slow buffer clearing for RAW format. All times with 24x Lexar CF card, Olympus 128MB xD card. (Even this cycle time is definitely not up to the requirements of sports, although shutter lag numbers aren't bad for a non-SLR.)

Cycle Time, "normal" Continuous mode, max JPEG resolution,
0.88 / 0.96 sec
Shoots 12 shots with a 24x CF card, 10 shots with an xD card, then stops. Buffer clears in 18 seconds with the CF card, 23 seconds with the xD. Fairly fast, with a reasonably long buffer.

The C-8080 Wide Zoom is for the most part a pretty nimble camera, particularly considering the huge 8 megapixel files it has to deal with. Like several of the other recent high-end cameras, it uses a hybrid autofocus system, combining phase detection and contrast detection to significantly reduce shutter lag. The result is full-autofocus shutter lag times on the order of 0.5-0.6 seconds. This is still quite a bit slower than the equivalent figures for digital SLRs, but much better than the majority of prosumer digicam models. (About the same shutter lag range as the Nikon Coolpix 8700, somewhat slower on average than the Sony DSC-F828, but faster than the F828 at full telephoto.) At 2.32 seconds, its cycle time for maximum resolution JPEGs is also about average for its class, slower than the equivalent times for a number of 5-megapixel cameras, but helped by the relatively generous 9-shot buffer. The one area where the C-8080 Wide Zoom is notably slow is in capturing RAW files, where the cycle time stretches to something on the order of 14 seconds with a moderately fast (24x) memory card. Here again though, its slow performance handling RAW files seems fairly typical of other 8-megapixel models I've tested, at least as of this writing: Only the Canon Pro1 seems to buffer its RAW-format images. Overall, the C-8080 pretty well keeps pace with its competition at the high end of the "prosumer" digicam market.


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