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Canon EOS-1DS

Canon extends the EOS-1D with 11.1 megapixels, and a full-frame CMOS sensor!

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Page 7:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 9/24/2002

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 allows 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 almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure it using a special electronic test setup.


EOS-1Ds Timings
Time (secs)
Time (secs)
Power On -> First shot 1.32
Very fast startup.
Shutdown .54
Time to finish writing large/fine file.
Play to Record, first shot .30
Very fast - only normal shutter lag, camera is always ready to shoot.
Record to play 1.03
Quite fast, time for display of large/fine file.
Shutter lag, full autofocus, "awake" .093
AF time will obviously vary greatly with lens. (Two different lenses used here, 28-70mm L-series on 1D, 100mm f/2.8 macro on 1Ds.)
Shutter lag, full autofocus, "asleep" .222
AF time isn't affected much when the camera is in it's "semi-sleep" mode, although the 1Ds showed more of a difference, perhaps due to the 100 mm lens being faster-focusing.
Shutter lag, manual focus, "awake" .083
The 1Ds is slower here, although it still offers a respectable shutter response time. I found the time to be somewhat variable (~8% variation between shots), with the shortest times I measured being 0.78 secs.)
Shutter lag, manual focus, "asleep" .257
On both the 1D and 1Ds, shutter lag in manual focus got quite a bit longer when the camera goes into its "semi sleep" mode after about 2 seconds of no control actuation.
Shutter lag, prefocus .059
This is the time when the camera is prefocused by half-pressing and holding the shutter before the shot itself. Both cameras are very fast here, but the 1D again edges out the 1Ds. (The 1D time is really blazing, the fastest I've measured on a camera.)
Cycle time, single shot mode 0.40-0.52
Both cameras are very fast in this mode. I felt that the original 1D was more limited by how fast I move my finger to punch the shutter button than by the camera itself. With the 1Ds, the camera was clearly the limiting factor, but it's interesting that the single-shot cycle time is so close to its speed in continuous shooting mode. This is very fast for single-shot operation. I did find an odd behavior though, in that cycle times were both longer and more variable when the lens was set to manual focus than autofocus. The EOS-1Ds appears to have a "two stage" buffer memory: See the text below.
Cycle time, continuous "H" mode n/a
(7.7 frames/sec)
Here's where the original EOS-1D runs away from every other SLR. In it's high-speed continuous mode, nothing can touch it. The EOS-1Ds has only one continuous mode, equivalent to the low-speed mode on the 1D.
Cycle time, continuous "L" mode 0.33
(3 frames/sec)
(3.0 frames/sec)
3 fps as claimed. On the 1D, fast cards can give much longer runs before having to wait for the buffer to empty, while on the 1Ds, the run length is 10 frames, regardless of card speed or image resolution setting.


While the original 1D was clearly the fastest pro SLR I've tested to date (as of September, 2002), the 1Ds is amazingly quick, given the amount of data it's moving around. Shutter lag times are roughly comparable between the two cameras in full autofocus mode, depending on the lens used. In manual focus and prefocus modes, the 1Ds is slightly slower than the very fast 1D, but it's quite competitive with the current crop of 6 megapixel SLRs.

I didn't observe the odd behavior with respect to memory card speed with the EOS-1Ds that I found in the 1D: Cycle times in continuous mode showed none of the dependence on card speed that I saw in the original 1D. There was also no advantage in terms of maximum run lengths with high speed vs low speed cards - Both types gave maximum run lengths of 10 shots in continuous mode.

In single-shot mode, I found that the EOS-1Ds seems to have a "two stage" buffer memory. You can rattle off 10 shots in rapid fire, with a roughly 0.4 second cycle time between them, upon which the camera slows to cycle times of about two seconds for another 7 shots. After this total of about 17 shots, the cycle times stretch to over 6 seconds.

I also found some puzzling behavior in single-shot mode with regard to the focus setting: The 1Ds was noticeably faster between shots with the lens set to autofocus than when it was set to manual focus. Using autofocus, the shot to shot cycle time was about 0.4 seconds, but with the lens set to manual focus, this time stretched to an average of 0.52 seconds, and became much more variable. (A standard deviation of about 14%.)



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