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Timing & Performance

The A95 generally feels pretty 'snappy' in use, though there are areas where it can feel slightly sluggish - two and a half seconds to power up is hardly class-leading, and the one second delay when scrolling between images in playback mode can get tiresome. But ultimately this is a very aggressively-priced 5MP camera that performs pretty well where it matters - taking pictures. My only complaint is that the focus can be a bit slow - especially in low light and at the tele end of the zoom - I'd hoped for a significant improvement over the A80, but - whilst the focusing does seem quicker and more positive in use - it's not really that much better. The continuous shooting is very good for a budget camera, and shutter lag very low indeed.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG image (approx. 1,300 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record   2.5
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 2.5
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 2.1
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty ~0.7
Record Review Image displayed ~1.5
Mode: Record to Play   1.2
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended ~1.7
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended ~2.6
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) ~1.0
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image 1.0
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 1.1

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 35 to 420 mm (12 x) 1.6
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle ~0.8
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~1.5
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view 0.2
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder ~0.08
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.9
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view ~3.7
Shot to Shot Flash off 2.4
Shot to Shot Flash on 4.5

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 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

The A95 has two continuous shooting modes, Normal and High Speed. In normal mode (which averages around 0.8 frames per second) a brief review image is displayed for each frame captured, whereas in high speed mode the screen stays blank throughout - no preview or review image. Despite repeating the tests many times we could not achieve the full 2.0 frames per second burst rate when shooting 3MP fine JPEGS - I have no explanation for this anomaly.

Image Type
Mode
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
After
burst
*2
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super Fine Continuous H 2.0 fps 8 0.4 fps  
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super Fine Continuous 0.8 fps 9 0.3 fps
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine Continuous H 2.0 fps 12 0.5 fps
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine Continuous 0.8 fps 13 0.4 fps
2592 x 1944 JPEG Normal Continuous H 2.0 fps 27 0.8 fps
2592 x 1944 JPEG Normal Continuous 0.8 fps 32 0.5 fps
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine Continuous H 1.66 fps 20 0.7 fps
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine Continuous 0.9 fps 21 0.44 fps
1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine Continuous H 2.0 fps 26 0.3 fps
1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine Continuous 1.0 fps 32 0.6 fps

*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 it's nice that the camera doesn't lock up once the buffer is full, but starts to write to the CompactFlash card, meaning you can go on shooting - albeit at a much slower pace.

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 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
1GB Card
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super Fine ~3.9 ~1.6 2,910 KB 394
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine ~3.1 ~1.5 1,790 KB 701
2592 x 1944 JPEG Normal ~2.1 ~1.5 560 KB 1387
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine ~2.2 ~1.6 925 KB 1095
1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine ~2.0 ~1.3 650 KB 1734

*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.

With write times averaging around 3.9 seconds for a 5MP Fine JPEG the A95 is no slouch, but the transfer rate - approximately 740KB/s - means fast cards will offer little advantage in this camera.

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