Canon EOS 30DBy: Shawn Barnett and Dave Etchells
Myriad minor feature and interface tweaks make a great SLR even better.
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Page 8:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time TestsReview First Posted: 04/14/2006
Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests
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 EOS 30D.
|Power On -> First shot||
Nearly instantaneous. (Canon's spec is 0.15 second.)
First time is simple shutdown, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time with a fast memory card.
|Play to Record, first shot||
Time until first shot is captured. (Effectively instantaneous, simply the shutter lag time.)
|Record to play||
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. Pretty fast.
|Shutter lag, full autofocus||This is basically a measure of how quickly the camera can determine focus, with the lens elements already set to the focal distance of the subject. About average for d-SLRs. Measured with the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens.|
|Shutter lag, prefocus||
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
|Shutter lag, continuous autofocus
|Interestingly, faster than either normal AF or manual focus.|
|Shutter lag, manual focus||
|Average to a bit slower than average. (Faster than your reflexes though.)|
|Cycle Time, RAW / max/min JPEG resolution||
|Times are averages. Shoots almost as fast as you can cycle the shutter button in any mode, even faster if you don't fully release the shutter button between frames. In RAW mode, shoots 11 frames this fast, then slows to about 1.8 seconds per shot. In large/fine mode, shoots 28 frames this fast, then slows to about 1.1 seconds per shot. At the lowest resolution, shoots over 100 frames without filling the buffer. Buffer clears in 17 seconds for RAW files, 19 seconds for large/fine files, and 10 seconds after 100 lo-res files.|
|Cycle Time, Flash exposures||3||Very fast. (Flash at maximum power output)|
|Cycle Time, continuous High mode, RAW / max/min JPEG resolution||0.20
|Times are averages. Shoots at the same speed regardless of resolution. In RAW mode, shoots 10 frames this fast, then slows to about 2 seconds per shot. In large/fine mode, shoots 28 frames this fast, then slows to about 0.9 seconds per shot. At the lowest resolution, shoots over 100 frames without filling the buffer. Buffer clears in 17 seconds for RAW files, 20 seconds for large/fine files, and 15 seconds after 100 lo-res files.|
|Cycle Time, continuous Low mode, RAW / max/min JPEG resolution||0.33
|Times are averages. Shoots at the same speed regardless of resolution. In RAW mode, shoots 12 frames this fast, then slows to about 2 seconds per shot. In large/fine mode, shoots 36 frames this fast, then slows to about 0.9 seconds per shot. At the lowest resolution, shoots continuously, clearing the buffer after each shot. Buffer clears in 17 seconds for RAW files and 20 seconds for large/fine files.|
Without a doubt, the EOS 30D is an impressively fast and responsive camera. Cycle times are very impressive, whether in single-shot or continuous mode. A nice tweak is the mode found on the EOS-1 series, that lets you shoot faster in single-shot mode if you only half-release the shutter button between shots. Buffer capacity for JPEG images is excellent: Using a low-compressibility color-noise image as the subject, we consistently shot 28 large/fine JPEGs (depending on subject detail) before having to wait for the card to catch up; and at about a second per image, post-buffer-fill cycle time was excellent as well. Shooting in RAW mode cut the buffer capacity to 10 frames, regardless of the subject matter, and slowed both the post-buffer-fill cycle time and buffer recovery rate as well. - But the cycle time for those first 10 frames is still very good, and you don't have to wait for the buffer to clear entirely before shooting another series.
From a practical standpoint, while the 30D doesn't approach the speed of the 1D Mark II N, the combination of 5 frames/second and a JPEG buffer depth of 28 frames (or 9 frames for RAW+JPEG shooters) makes a huge impact on the sense of speed and responsiveness we felt with the camera, compared to the lower-end Rebel XT. I'm sure that sports shooters and some fashion photographers will still lust for the speed and buffer depth of the 1D Mark II N, but for the vast majority of photographers, the performance of the 30D will more than suffice. Big kudos to Canon, on the performance score!