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"Picky Details" for the Sony DSC-W5 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)



When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time or delay before the shutter actually fires. This corresponds to the time required for 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 rarely reported on (and even more rarely reported accurately), and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I routinely measure both shutter delay and shot to shot cycle 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-W5:

Sony DSC-W5 Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. Pretty fast.
1.4 - 16
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Pretty fast, the 16 second clearing time corresponds to emptying the buffer of 100 small/basic shots.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Very fast.
Record to play
1.5 / 0.2
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. Quite fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.31 / 0.62
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. A fair bit faster than average.

Shutter lag, continuous autofocus

As usual, no benefit to continuous AF for stationary subjects. (May help with moving subjects, but I have no way to test that.)
Shutter lag, manual focus
Quite fast.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Amazingly fast!
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

0.95 / 1.00

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In both modes, clears the buffer after each shot and continues at this rate indefinitely. Very good, much better than average.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.70 / 0.60
(1.43 / 1.67 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. Shoots 9 images this fast in large/fine mode, clears the buffer in 4.4 seconds, and is ready for 9 more. In TV mode, shoots over 100 frames without slowing, and clears the buffer in 15 seconds. Quite good, and very good buffer depth as well. (Note that buffer-clearing times are for Memory Stick PRO media, ordinary Memory Sticks will be slower.)
Cycle Time, "Multi Burst" mode 0.03
(30 fps)
Camera captures sixteen 320 x 240 pixel images, stores them in 4x4 arrays inside normal 1280 x 960 files. Frame rate can be set to 30, 15, or 7.5 fps. Buffer clears in about a second, and it's ready for 16 more. Very fast.

Great speed, very responsive. The Sony DSC-W5 is faster than average starting up and shutting down, and when it was running, it was faster yet. Full-autofocus shutter lag was a good bit faster than average, at only 0.31 - 0.62 second. (Average these days is a range from 0.8 - 1.0 second.) When the camera was "prefocused" by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself, shutter lag dropped to an astonishing 0.011 second. Shot to shot cycle time was also very fast, at only 0.95 second for large/fine JPEG images. In continuous mode, the camera could capture up to 9 large/fine images at a time, one every 0.70 second. (1.43 frames/second.) Bottom line, the Sony DSC-W5 should be an excellent camera for keeping up with an active family or capturing shots of sporting events.



The Sony DSC-W5 uses a two AA batteries for power, and two Sony-branded 2100 mAh NiMH batteries are included with the camera. Unfortunately, the camera uses a "dummy battery" AC adapter (rather than a standard external power connector), so I couldn't conduct my usual direct measurements of power consumption. For what it's worth though, Sony claims that the W5 will run for as much as 190 minutes in capture mode with the LCD display turned on, capturing up to 380 full-resolution images. If true (and I have no reason to disbelieve it), the DSC-W5's battery life is very good, especially for a camera powered by only two AA cells. While the camera comes with two good-quality NiMH AA cells and a charger, I do recommend that you pick up another pair or two of high-capacity NiMH batteries. See my battery shootout page for a current listing of the top batteries, tested under actual load conditions.


Storage Capacity

The Sony DSC-W5 stores its photos on Memory Stick memory cards or in approximately 32 MB of internal memory, and no 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 in the internal memory at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
32 MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
2592 x 1944
(Avg size)
2.6 MB
1.4 MB
6:1 11:1
2048 x 1536
(Avg size)
1.6 MB
903 KB
6:1 11:1
1280 x 960
(Avg size)
668 KB
368 KB
6:1 10:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
167 KB
67 KB
6:1 14:1


Download Speed

The Sony DSC-W5 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony desktop running Windows XP (Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz), I clocked it at 4915 KBytes/second, an amazingly fast rate. (Yes, we did check that a couple of times to make sure. It really is that fast.) (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.)

W5 Review
W5 Test Images
W5 Specifications
W5 "Picky Details"
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