Canon PowerShot SD850 IS Performance

Timing and Performance

Good to average speed for a consumer camera, though markedly slow continuous shooting cycle times.


Power on
to first shot

1.2 seconds

Time it takes for LCD to turn on and lens to deploy.


1.3 seconds

How long it takes to retract lens and stow in your pocket.

Buffer clearing time

2 seconds
(large/superfine JPEG)

Worst case buffer clearing time. This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't retract their lenses and shut down until the buffer is cleared.

Mode switching

Play to Record,
first shot

3.1 seconds

Time until first shot is captured

Record to play

0.9 seconds

Time to display a large/superfine file immediately after capture

recorded image

1.4 second

Time to display a large/superfine file already on the memory card.

Shutter response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus Wide

0.58 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at wide angle position.

Full Autofocus Tele

0.51 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at telephoto position.


0.08 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Cycle time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large SuperFine JPEG
2.22 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
640x480 Normal JPEG

2.19 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Early shutter


Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer

Continuous mode
Large SuperFine JPEG

1.47 second (0.68 frames per second);
1.5 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Continuous mode
640x480 Normal JPEG

1.47 second (0.68 frames per second);
1.5 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Flash recycling

7.5 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

Download speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

3,107 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a Kingston Ultimate 133x SD memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode.

The Canon PowerShot SD850 IS's performance here is pretty good overall, though the camera has very slow continuous shooting speeds of only 0.68 frames per second, regardless of resolution and quality settings. Shutter lag at wide angle and telephoto zoom settings is very good, and "prefocus" times (half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure) are blazingly fast, with a shutter delay of only 0.08 second. Shot-to-shot cycle times are on the slower side of average these days, at about 2.22 seconds for large/superfine JPEGs, though the camera captures frames continuously at this rate. Flash recycle time is about average, at 7.5 seconds after a full-power shot. Connected to a computer, download speeds are quite fast, so you won't feel a need for a separate card reader. Bottom line, the PowerShot SD850 IS is a good camera for average shooting conditions, though you'll need something a little zippier for wriggling children or sporting events.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Short battery life with the LCD enabled, much better life without it.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
Rear-panel LCD

(CIPA standard)
Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
Eye-level viewfinder

The Canon PowerShot SD850 IS uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and a battery and charger are included with the camera. Though runtimes are increased by switching off the LCD monitor, I strongly recommend picking up a spare battery and keeping it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

The PowerShot SD850 IS accepts SD/SDHC/MMC memory cards, and comes with a 32MB starter card.

Image Capacity with
32MB Memory Card
SuperFine Fine Normal
3,264 x 2,448
8 14 29
File Size
3.6 MB 2.2 MB 1.0 MB
2,592 x 1,944
11 21 41
File Size
2.6 MB 1.5 MB 762 KB
2,048 x 1,536
18 33 65
File Size
1.7 MB 966 KB 491 KB
1,600 x 1,200
29 52 99
File Size
1.1 MB 610 KB 322 KB
640 x 480
111 171 269
File Size
288 KB 186 KB 119 KB

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/SDHC memory card at least a 1GB card, preferably a 4GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)


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