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Minolta Dimage F300

A compact, stylish camera with a full five-megapixel sensor and clever autofocus system.

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Page 7:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 05/22/2003

Shutter Lag/Cycle Times

When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a "lag time" or delay 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 almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure it, using a test system I constructed for this purpose. The test system has a resolution of 0.001 seconds, and is accurate to better than 0.01%.

NOTE: My qualitative characterizations of camera performance below (that is, "reasonably fast," "about average," etc.) are meant to be relative to other cameras of similar price and general capabilities. Thus, the same shutter lag that's "very fast" for a low-end consumer camera might be characterized as "quite slow" if I encountered it on a professional model. The comments are also intended as only a quick reference: If performance specs are critical for you, rely on the absolute numbers to compare cameras, rather than my purely qualitative comments.

Minolta Dimage F300 Timings
Time (secs)
Power On -> First shot
Rather a long time, even for a camera with a telescoping lens. The F300's lens is a little leisurely in its movements.
Time required to retract lens, also fairly slow.
Play to Record, first shot
Pretty fast.
Record to play (max/min res)
Top number is JPEG large/fine, bottom is JPEG small/normal. Pretty fast overall.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
First number for wide angle, second for telephoto. Quite a bit slower than average. (Average ranges from 0.8-1.0)
Shutter lag, manual focus
A good bit slower than average. (Average is about 0.5 seconds.)
Shutter lag, prefocus
Faster than average. (Average is around 0.3 seconds.)
Cycle Time
2.29 L/F
2.08 S/B
First times are for large/fine mode images, second number is for small/basic ones. Buffer memory captures about 6 large/fine shots this quickly, then slows to about 9 seconds per shot. At the small/basic setting, the camera can capture dozens of shots without pausing. (I didn't test to find its limits, but it's somewhere well beyond 20.
Cycle Time, TIFF
(Uncompressed format)
Very slow. Camera controls locked out during TIFF file memory writes.
Cycle time, continuous mode
1.0 - 0.93
~5 frame burst in large/fine, 60+ frames in small/basic.
Cycle time, UHS mode
(Ultra High Speed mode)
12.3 fps
Ultra High Speed mode, shoots at 1280x960 resolution. Shoots 11 shots this fast, then has to wait about 18 seconds to write image data to the memory card before it can shoot the next sequence.


The F300 was generally a pretty responsive camera, with very good cycle times, at least when it was writing to its buffer memory. (The buffer memory holds six of the F300's highest resolution JPEG images, a good capacity.) The autofocus speed was pretty disappointing though, particularly when the lens was at its wide angle setting, where most cameras are generally faster. The F300 showed very similar shutter lag at wide angle as at telephoto, the respective numbers being 1.35 and 1.37 seconds. This is slower than most competing models on the market, with average shutter lag performance running in the range from 0.8 to 1.1 seconds. Prefocus shutter delay was very good although, at only 0.208 seconds. If you remember the trick of half-pressing and holding the shutter button before critical exposures, you should have no trouble catching the action with the F300, but its autofocus speed leaves something to be desired.


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