Test of high-speed shooting with E-M5

Started Jun 13, 2012 | Discussions thread
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peevee1
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Test of high-speed shooting with E-M5
Jun 13, 2012

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 MB/s finally arrived and I performed some tests of the "9 fps" sequential shooting. I shot a stopwatch screen (resolution of approx 0.029s) with the 12-50 at 12 mm/3.5, vivid, default Noise Filter and sharpening, distortion correction ON. Average files sizes are given. More complex scenes produce bigger files and slightly slower rates.

"Buffer clears" is approximate from last shot to disappearance of the writing icon (camera cannot be switched to preview when the icon flashes, for example)
Here are the results after more than a 1000 shots:

JPEG 1280x960 Normal, file size 0.33MB.

Fastest rate: 8.15 fps for 26 shots. Buffer full rate 5.29 fps/1.7 MB/s. Buffer clears too fast to notice.

JPEG 2560x1920 Normal, file size 1.1MB.

Fastest rate: 8.03 fps for 20 shots. Buffer full rate 4.62 fps/5.1 MB/s. Buffer clears too fast to notice.

JPEG 4608x3456 Normal, file size 3.2MB.

Fastest rate: 8.14 fps for 17 shots. Buffer full rate 3.79 fps/12.1 MB/s. Buffer clears in approximately 3 s.

JPEG 4608x3456 Fine, file size 7.6MB.

Fastest rate: 8.14 fps for 15 shots. Buffer full rate 2.51 fps/19.1 MB/s. Buffer clears in approximately 6 s.

RAW 4608x3456, file size 14.5MB (I have seen 17.5MB with more complex scenes).

Fastest rate: 8.15 fps for 14 shots. Buffer full rate 1.94 fps/28.2 MB/s. Buffer clears in approximately 7 s.

Special test, 2x digital teleconverter on (only 1/4 of the sensor is used to form the picture):
JPEG 1280x960 Normal, file size 0.33MB.

Fastest rate: 8.22 fps indefinitely (tried 253 shots). 2.7 MB/s. Buffer clears too fast to notice.

Conclusions:

1) JPEG "Buffer full" frame rate is limited by the image processing engine, not by the card, and mostly depends on source resolution, not resolution of the JPEG (although upscaling takes more resources than downscaling)

2) "90 MB/s" card (such as the Extreme Pro) is not necessary, and might be somewhat beneficial only to RAW high-speed shooters (I would like to know the real write speed of their "45 MB/s" though before claiming it is good enough confidently)
3) Olympus "exaggerated" their 9 fps claim.

4) For most situations if high frame rates are needed for more than a couple seconds, it is better to shoot video.

5) I understand why they have 3.5 fps mode - it allows to sustain Large/Normal JPEG indefinitely.

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