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"Picky Details" for the Canon PowerShot S1 IS digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

Since they're rarely reported on (and even more rarely reported accurately), I measure both cycle times and shutter delay 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 S1 IS:


Canon PowerShot S1 IS Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. A little on the slow side.
3.1- 5
First number is for lens retracting, second is worst-case buffer clearing time before you can remove the memory card. About average lens retraction, very fast worst-case buffer clear.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Quite fast.
Record to play
1.5 / 0.9
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. Both times are quite fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Both times are faster than average, particularly for a long-zoom camera.
Shutter lag, manual focus 0.45 About average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. VERY fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution


First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In either mode, buffer holds only the current image, but clears almost immediately. Fairly fast, particularly considering that you can capture as many shots at this rate as your memory card will hold.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.60/0.57
(1.67/1.75 fps)
First numbers are for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots seven images this fast, then slows to 1.13 seconds per shot. (With a Lexar 24x memory card.) Buffer clears in 2 seconds. In TV mode, it maintains this speed indefinitely, buffer clears essentially immediately.

With a full autofocus delay that ranges from 0.77 to 0.78 seconds, the PowerShot S1 IS's shutter lag is on the short side of average, a good performance for a long-zoom digicam. Prefocus delay is very short, at only 0.078 seconds, and shot to shot cycle times are pretty good as well, at 1.71 seconds between frames, with no apparent buffer-memory limit. Continuous-mode speed is quite good at 1.7 frames/second, and a 7-shot buffer capacity at maximum image size and quality. While I don't usually report on movie mode in this "shutter lag and cycle time" section, I'll mention it anyway, as I think it deserves special attention. Able to record full 640x480 resolution movies nonstop at 30 frames/second, the S1 IS's movie mode goes a lot beyond what you'd expect from a camera in its price range.


The Canon S1 IS uses four AA batteries for power.

Operating Mode
(@7.4 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(four 1600 mA cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
490 mA
Capture Mode, no LCD
469 mA
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
507 mA
Half-pressed w/o LCD
495 mA
Memory Write (transient)
469 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
1083 mA
Image Playback
343 mA

With a worst-case run time of just over two hours on a "standard" set of 1600 mAh batteries, the S1 IS does pretty well in the battery-life department. (With modern NiMH cells having true (vs advertised) capacities greater than 2000 mAh, you should be able to operate the S1IS for at least 2 1/2 hours on a fresh set of batteries.) Regardless of the S1 IS's generally good battery life though, I still strongly recommend that you purchase several sets of high-capacity NiMH AA cells and a good charger to go along with them. To see which NiMH cells are best, see my battery shootout page. Read my review of the Maha C-204F charger, to learn why it's my longtime favorite.

Storage Capacity
The Canon stores its photos on Comact Flash memory cards, and a 32 MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 64 MB card, preferably a 128 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 32 MB card at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
32 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
2,048 x 1,536 Images
(Avg size)
1.7 MB
924 KB
465 KB
6:1 10:1 20:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
1.0 MB
580 KB
294 KB
6:1 10:1 20:1
1,024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
593 KB
335 KB
184 KB
4:1 7:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
265 KB
163 KB
108 KB
4:1 6:1


Download Speed
The Canon connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to a Sony desktop running Windows XP. I clocked it at 894 KBytes/second. This is faster than cameras with a USB v1.1 interface can download, but not as fast as the quickest USB v2.0-equipped cameras can manage. Still, very fast, certainly quick enough that you shouldn't feel any need for an external card reader. (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.)


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