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Timings & File Sizes

Numerous internal improvements in the development of the EOS 20D make it a noticeably faster camera the EOS 10D. Some more important differences are the sub half-second startup time (EOS 10D was around 2.3 seconds), RAW record review of 1.3 seconds (EOS 10D was around 2.3 seconds), playback browsing speed, much faster CF write speeds and faster continuous shooting rate (with a larger buffer). The sum of these improvements is a camera which feels much more responsive and is pretty much always ready to shoot no matter what you throw at it.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a Large (3504 x 2336) JPEG image (approx. 2,700 KB per image).

Media Notes: The 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II card was formatted at the default FAT32 cluster size (4 KB), formatting with the larger 32 KB cluster size produce only a 3% write speed improvement. SanDisk Ultra II cards have the same performance as the SanDisk Extreme cards sold in North America.

The media used for this test were:

  • 256 MB Canon High Speed Type I CF card
  • 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF card
  • 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF card (FAT32)
Action
Details
Time, seconds
(Canon)
Time, seconds
(SanDisk 1 GB)
Time, seconds
(SanDisk 4 GB)
Power Off to On *1   0.3 0.3 0.3
Power On to Off   <0.3 <0.3 <0.3
Record Review *2
RAW
1.3 1.3 1.3
Record Review *2
JPEG
1.0 1.0 1.0
Play *3
RAW
0.3 (0.8) 0.3 (0.7) 0.3 (0.6)
Play *3
JPEG
0.6 (1.9) 0.6 (1.2) 0.6 (1.1)
Play Image to Image
RAW
<0.5 <0.5 <0.5
Play Image to Image
JPEG
<0.5 <0.5 <0.5

*1

This timing was taken from the moment the power switch was turned to on to the moment a shot was taken (by holding down the shutter release from power on).

*2 This is the amount of time between pressing the shutter release and the image being displayed on the LCD monitor. Different display modes (single image / histogram) don't affect this timing.
*3

The EOS 20D caches images which have been viewed recently to speed up browsing. The first timing is the best case (image has been viewed and cached), the second (in brackets) the worst case (image is first to be displayed after power on).

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/250s, F3.5), ISO 400. We observed that no matter what the image quality setting, ISO or CF card used the initial frame rate was always 5.0 fps (+/- 0.1 fps). The tests carried out below measured the following parameters for both JPEG (Large/Fine) and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was always 5.0 fps
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst (full speed; 5.0 fps)
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
  • Next burst - How soon after a burst of shots you can take another full burst *

* As soon as the 'Max Burst' display on the viewfinder reaches 9 (JPEG) or 6 (RAW)

The media used for these tests were:

  • 256 MB Canon High Speed Type I CF card
  • 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF card
  • 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF card (FAT32)

Burst of JPEG (Large/Fine) images

Timing
256 MB Canon
1 GB SanDisk
4 GB SanDisk
Frame rate 5.0 fps 5.0 fps 5.0 fps
Number of frames 24 25 25
Buffer full rate 1.3 fps 1.4 fps 1.2 fps
Next burst 16.0 sec 7.2 sec 9.0 sec

Burst of RAW images

Timing
256 MB Canon
1 GB SanDisk
4 GB SanDisk
Frame rate 5.0 fps 5.0 fps 5.0 fps
Number of frames 6 6 6
Buffer full rate 0.3 fps 0.7 fps 0.5 fps
Next burst 21.0 sec 9.1 sec 12.3 sec

The EOS 20D's continuous shooting capability is very impressive, especially when combined with a fast CompactFlash card. The EOS 20D processes RAW buffered data into the output format and places back in the buffer, this queue of images is then written to the CF card. Because of this system the camera releases enough buffer space for another burst before all images have been written to the CF card. In JPEG mode with a decent card you can fire off 25 frames in five seconds and then another 25 just over seven seconds later (and on and on).

File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. The EOS 20D will begin writing images as soon as it can and continue to write 'in the background' while you take further shots / change settings. You cannot browse other images or enter the camera menu while images are being written to the storage card.

The media used for this test were:

  • 256 MB Canon High Speed Type I CF card
  • 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF card
  • 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF card (FAT32)
Store
Time,
(Canon)
Time,
(SanDisk 1 GB)
Time,
(SanDisk 4 GB)
Approx.
size
3504 x 2336 RAW *1 3.5 1.7 2.1 7,500 KB
3504 x 2336 RAW + JPEG *2 4.7 2.3 2.8 10,200 KB
3504 x 2336 JPEG (L/Fine) 1.4 0.7 0.8 2,700 KB
2544 x 1696 JPEG (M/Fine) 0.9 0.5 0.6 1,600 KB

*1 The EOS 20D uses a lossless compression (similar to Zip compression) on RAW files, thus they can vary slightly in size depending on ISO sensitivity and the amount of detail in the image.
*2 File size reported here is the size of the RAW and JPEG files added together. For our tests we chose Large, quality 8 (default).

What difference a good CompactFlash card can make, with SanDisk's 1 GB Ultra II card the EOS 20D takes just 1.7 seconds to write a RAW file, and around three quarters of a second for a Large JPEG. Indeed this performance is almost as good as the EOS-1D Mark II and more than twice as fast as the EOS 10D. It also is clearly worth investing in a good fast CF card.

Card performance: JPEG burst

Card Canon EOS 20D, write speed (JPEG L files)
256 MB Canon High Speed CF 2,132 KB/sec
1 GB SanDisk Ultra II CF 4,708 KB/sec
4 GB SanDisk Ultra II CF 3,622 KB/sec

Card performance: RAW burst

Card Canon EOS 20D, write speed (RAW files)
256 MB Canon High Speed CF 2,362 KB/sec
1 GB SanDisk Ultra II CF 5,434 KB/sec
4 GB SanDisk Ultra II CF 4,139 KB/sec

Firewire Reader Benchmark

Card Firewire Reader, write speed (RAW files)
256 MB Canon High Speed CF 2,229 KB/sec
1 GB SanDisk Ultra II CF 3,804 KB/sec
4 GB SanDisk Ultra II CF 2,909 KB/sec

Battery life

The EOS 20D's new BP-511A Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery provides approximately 25% more capacity than the EOS 10D's BP-511. This in combination with a new generation of the DiGiC processor equates to longer life, indeed Canon quotes an impressive 1,000 frames without the flash. Our experience was that in a days shooting it was fairly difficult to run the battery completely flat.

Canon supplied battery life data

Temperature
Shooting conditions
No flash use
50% flash use
Normal (20°C / 68°F) Approx. 1000 Approx. 700
Low (0°C / 32°F) Approx. 750 Approx. 550
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