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Timing & Performance

Perhaps the biggest complaint about the A95 (and the A510 / A520 for that matter) was that some aspects of performance are pedestrian to say the least. Compared to most of Canon's current range these cameras feel - and are measurably - sluggish in some very important areas, such as focusing, image playback and shot-to-shot times. The reason is simple - these models use the original DIGIC processor (introduced back in 2002 - in digital camera terms, just around the time cavemen first started using sticks to fight the woolly mammoth), which though very capable, doesn't really cut the mustard in late 2005. The good news is that the A620 sports the newer - and much faster - DIGIC II processor. The even better news is that the difference this makes is immense, with virtually every aspect of the A620's performance not just beating its predecessor, but in most cases doing so by a very wide margin. In fact, for a budget model, the A620 is remarkably fast and feels very responsive indeed, and certainly it is now on a par with the best cameras in this class.

Timing notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3072 x 2304 SuperFine JPEG image (approx. 2,800 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record   1.3
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 1.6
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 1.8
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty, lens already retracted ~0.2
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty, lens extended 1.4
Record Review Image displayed ~0.5
Mode: Record to Play   1.0
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended 1.0
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) ~0.8
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image 0.3 
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 0.4

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 35 to 140 mm (4 x) 1.5
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle ~0.4
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~0.55*1
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view <0.1
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder <0.1
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.6
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view ~2.3
Shot to Shot Flash off 1.4
Shot to Shot Flash on (redeye reduction off) 2.0 *2
Shot to Shot Flash on (redeye reduction on) 2.7 *2
*1 Focus speed in good light is in the 0.5 to 0.6 range. In low light this can stretch to around 1.0 seconds.
*2 Flash recycle time varies greatly according to subject distance and battery condition. With far off subjects or low batteries this figure can stretch to 5.0 seconds or more.

Lag Timing Definitions

Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
 

(Prime AF/AE)
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
 

(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
 

(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)

Continuous Mode

The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

The A620 has only a single continuous shooting modes, which in our tests averaged around 2.1 fps (a little over the 1.9 fps quoted by Canon). In continuous shooting mode the A620 does not show a live preview, but does display a brief review image for each picture taken. With a fast card it appears to be impossible to fill the buffer, so you can keep shooting until you run out of card space.

Image Type
Mode
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
After
burst
*2
3072 x 2304 JPEG Super Fine Continuous 2.0 fps 50+ n/a 
3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine Continuous 2.1 fps 50+ n/a 
3072 x 2304 JPEG Normal Continuous 2.2 fps 50+ n/a 
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super Fine Continuous 1.8 fps 50+ n/a 
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine Continuous 1.7 fps 50+ n/a 
2048 x 1536 JPEG Super Fine Continuous 2.2 fps 50+ n/a 
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine Continuous 2.1 fps 50+ n/a 

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).
*2 The A95 does not stop shooting once the buffer is full, but the frame rate drops significantly. The rate varies, so the figure shown is an average measured over 20 frames.

Not a bad performance at all for a camera in this class - and certainly capable enough for most of the target market.

File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
512 MB Card
3072 x 2304 JPEG Super Fine ~ 1.0 ~0.3 2,800 KB 322
3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine ~ 0.8 ~0.25 1,660 KB 515
3072 x 2304 JPEG Normal ~ 0.6 ~0.2 720 KB 1068
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super Fine ~ 1.1 ~0.25 1,980 KB 391
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine ~ 0.8 ~0.2 1,150 KB 695
2048 x 1536 JPEG Super Fine ~ 0.7 ~0.2 1,480 KB 607

*1 All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).
*2 Camera estimation.

Read/write performance is greatly improved over the A95 - as well as the more recent A520 / A510 - and, at not far under 3MB per sec, one of the better cameras in its class.

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