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Timing & Performance

Canon finally upgraded the ageing DIGIC processor used in the first few 'A' series PowerShots when it launched the A610 and 620 last year. The use of the same DIGIC II processor used in higher-end cameras brought a real, and significant performance boost, and means that the A700 can hold its own against non-budget models. In use it feels fairly snappy, with our only real complaint being the slow flash recycle times (due no doubt to the use of two AA batteries instead of four) - at distances over more than a few feet, at the long end of the zoom range or when the batteries are not at full charge the shot to shot times with flash can stretch to as much as 8 seconds - sometimes more with very tired batteries - which is a pain in social situations.

Timing notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2816 x 2112 SuperFine JPEG image (approx. 2,500 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   1.5
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 0.9
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 1.9
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 ~0.7
Mode: Record to Play   1.0
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended 1.4
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended 2.1
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) ~1.0
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image ~0.3 *1
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails ~0.3

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 35 to 140 mm (4 x) 1.9
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle, AiAF mode ~0.4
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto, AiAF ~0.6 *2
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~0.09
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder ~0.05
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.4
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view ~2.5
Shot to Shot Flash off 1.9
Shot to Shot Flash on (redeye reduction off) 4.1 *2
Shot to Shot Flash on (redeye reduction on) 5.0 *2
*1 The A700 uses low-res previews for fast scrolling - in fact if you hold down the left or right key you can speed through images at around 8 per second.
*2 Focus speed in good light is in the 0.4 to 0.8 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 8.0 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 A700 has only a single continuous shooting modes, which in our tests averaged around 2.0 fps. In continuous shooting mode the A700 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
2816 x 2112 JPEG Super Fine Continuous 2.0 fps 50+ n/a 
2816 x 2112 JPEG Fine Continuous 1.9 fps 50+ n/a 
2816 x 2112JPEG Normal Continuous 2.0 fps 50+ n/a 
2272 x 1704 JPEG Super Fine Continuous 1.9 fps 50+ n/a 
2272 x 1704 JPEG Fine Continuous 2.0 fps 50+ n/a 
2272 x 1704 JPEG Super Fine Continuous 2.0 fps 50+ n/a 
1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine Continuous 2.0 fps 50+ n/a 

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).
*2 It seems practically impossible to fill the buffer with a fast card, and the frame rate does not vary considerably.

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
1.0 GB Card
2816 x 2112 JPEG Super Fine ~ 0.4 ~0.2 2,500 KB 361
2816 x 2112 JPEG Fine ~ 0.3 ~0.2 1,525 KB 601
2816 x 2112JPEG Normal ~ 0.3 ~0.2 640 KB 1238
2272 x 1704 JPEG Super Fine ~ 0.3 ~0.2 1,684 KB 487
1600 x 1200 JPEG Super Fine ~ 0.2 ~0.2 955 KB 967
640 x 480 JPEG Super Fine ~ 0.2 ~0.2 160 KB 3645

*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 excellent - certainly over 5MB/s - and the A700 will definitely benefit from a fast SD card if you shoot a lot of pictures in rapid succession.

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