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"Picky Details" for the Sony DSC-W1 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 Sony DSC-W1:

Sony DSC-W1 Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward, then snaps the picture. Very fast.
1.3 - 15
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Very fast for shutdown, average for buffer clear.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Very fast.
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
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Both times are very fast.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Blazingly fast!
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

1.24 /

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. VERY fast, and all shots are this fast (no buffer memory).
Cycle Time, Burst mode, max/min resolution 0.80 / 0.71
(1.25 / 1.42 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, 9 shots were captured and the buffer cleared in 8 seconds. In TV mode, over 60 shots clicked off without filling the buffer, and it cleared in 15 seconds. Pretty speedy.
Cycle Time, Multi Burst (16) mode 0.03
(30 fps)
Camera captures 320 x 240pixel images, stores them in 4x4 arrays inside normal 1280 x 960 files. User can set frame rate to 7.5, 15 or 30 frames/second. Stops shooting after 16 shots, the buffer clears in 2 seconds, and it's ready for more. Very fast.

The DSC-W1 is a surprisingly (amazingly?) fast little camera, with really excellent shutter response, shot to shot cycle times that would be the envy of most full-sized cameras, as well as very quick startup/shutdown times. Its shutter lag numbers are virtually identical to those of its slightly smaller sibling, the DSC-P100, but its cycle time performance is positively blazing. The one fly in the ointment though, is that the P100 is a camera that "penalizes" you for pressing the shutter button too quickly after a previous shot. If you mash down the shutter button immediately after capturing an image, the camera will just sit there until you let up on the shutter button and press it again. A number of cameras do this, but I consider it to be a pretty significant design flaw.

The Sony W1 uses a AA batteries for power, and comes with two NiMH rechargeable 2100 mAh AAs and a charger. Because its external power jack is a proprietary design though, I couldn't perform my usual exacting power measurements. The numbers in the table below are Sony's, from the W1's manual. While I couldn't confirm them through my own measurements, I do think they're reasonable, based both on my own anecdotal experience with the W1 during my testing, as well as on my experience with the P100, which seems to share much of the same electronics with the W1.

Operating Mode
Battery Life
Still-image capture mode, LCD on 170 minutes
Still-image capture mode, LCD off
290 minutes
Playback mode
340 minutes (!)

These are excellent run times, particularly for a camera powered by two AA cells, but I still highly recommend purchasing another set or two of high-capacity NiMH batteries. See my battery shootout page for rankings of various batteries, based on actual performance measurements.

Storage Capacity
The Sony stores its photos on Memory Stick or Memory Stick Pro memory cards, and a 32 MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 128 MB card, preferably a 256 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
2,592 x 1,944 Images
(Avg size)
2.7 MB
1.4 MB
6:1 10:1
2048 x 1,536 Images
(Avg size)
1.7 MB
952 KB
6:1 10:1
1,280 x 960 Images
(Avg size)
705 KB
387 KB
5:1 9:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
176 KB
70 KB



Download Speed
The Sony connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to a Sony desktop running Windows XP. I clocked it at 2356 KBytes/second. This is pretty fast, even for its USB v2.0 interface. (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.)


W1 Review
W1 Test Images
W1 Specifications
W1 "Picky Details"
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