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Timings & File Sizes

I suppose there's no point me telling you the D30 is a very fast camera? You'd probably assumed that already. Well, it is a very fast camera. It has the kind of feel that gives you the confidence that when you need to take the shot it'll be there and ready, no discernible delay, no hesitation. Any delay would be down to focus, thankfully the AF system on the D30 is fast. Startup is not quite as fast as Nikon's D1 but operationally, from then on there's very little in it (other than continuous shooting).

One thing worth noting, and this is something we've seen on other digital SLR's too, is the performance difference between using a Microdrive and Flash memory. In the timing charts below we've taken most of the timings (those affected by storage) twice to indicate the performance difference. Startup with a Microdrive takes a full 1.4 seconds longer than Flash.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG image (approx. 1,400 KB per image). Camera was set to manual exposure: 1/250s F5.6, manual focus (except AF tests).

Action Media Details Time taken
(seconds)
Notes
Power: Off to On Microdrive   3.4  
Power: Off to On Flash   2.0  
Power: On to Off     - Virtually instant *1
Rec: Review Microdrive 2160 x 1440 RAW 2.7 Time taken from pressing shutter release to preview image displayed on rear LCD (if enabled). *2
Rec: Review & histogram Microdrive 2160 x 1440 RAW 3.4
Rec: Review Microdrive 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 2.5
Rec: Review & histogram Microdrive 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 2.9
Rec: Review Flash 2160 x 1440 RAW 2.3
Rec: Review & histogram Flash 2160 x 1440 RAW 3.1
Rec: Review Flash 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 2.0
Rec: Review & histogram Flash 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 2.4
Play: Display image Microdrive 2160 x 1440 RAW 1.9 Time taken to display an image after powering the camera Off and On again. Last shot taken appears to be buffered and appears instantly upon pressing PLAY. *3
Play: Display histogram Microdrive 2160 x 1440 RAW 1.8
Play: Display image Microdrive 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 1.7
Play: Display histogram Microdrive 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 1.8
Play: Display image Flash 2160 x 1440 RAW 1.6
Play: Display histogram Flash 2160 x 1440 RAW 1.1
Play: Display image Flash 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 1.3
Play: Display histogram Flash 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 1.1
Play: Thumbnail view Microdrive 3 x 3 thumbnails 1.5  
Play: Thumbnail view Flash 3 x 3 thumbnails 1.3  
Play: Zoom-in Microdrive   1.1  
Play: Zoom-in Flash   0.8  
Auto Focus LAG     Depends on lens / subject *4
Shutter Release LAG     Virtually Instant *5

Microdrive:
MK1 340 MB IBM Microdrive, Flash: 128 MB Delkin Flash

*1 Assuming all buffered images have been written out to storage card, otherwise camera powers completely down once images are saved (a little bar chart is displayed on the top LCD to indicate memory buffer status)
*2 These timings have no effect on how quickly you can take the next shot (summarised below)
*3 These timings have no affect on scrolling through images which operates as quickly as you can turn the Quick Control Dial.
*4 The focus system in the D30 is VERY fast, now I don't have a huge amount of experience of other EOS cameras, I'm told it's as fast as the EOS 5. Canon lenses have the focus motor built into them, all the camera has to do is decide the focus distance and the lens will do the rest (thus the speed from nearest to Infinity is down to the lens). With AI Servo enabled the focusing follows a subject locked onto a focus point.. Superb. Thanks to the AF assist lamp focusing in all circumstances was possible (and still very fast).
*5 This really was virtually instant, it's probably more down to your reaction time than the camera. Attempting to time shutter release lag was pointless on the D30, it's very very very fast.


Shot-to-shot in Single Shot Drive mode

in Continuous drive mode you can just keep firing off the shots either by holding the shutter release down or pumping it (until the internal buffer is full - see below), however in Single Shot drive mode "BUSY" is displayed on the status LCD in the viewfinder and on the top LCD to indicate the camera is busy flushing its buffers before you can take the next shot.

Size / Resolution
 
Media Shot-to-shot time
(seconds)
2160 x 1440 JPEG FINE Microdrive 1.3
2160 x 1440 RAW Microdrive 1.5
2160 x 1440 JPEG FINE Flash 1.3
2160 x 1440 RAW Flash 1.5

Microdrive: MK1 340 MB IBM Microdrive, Flash: 128 MB Delkin Flash

Note: Enabling / disabling image review has no effect on these timings.


Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/250s, F5.6), ISO 400, No LCD review (didn't actually affect results). Then I aimed the camera at a high speed stopwatch, started the watch and fired a burst of 10 frames. Timings were then read back off the images recorded and normalised so that the first frame became "0 seconds" (in reality never any greater than 0.07 sec). The test was repeated for RAW and JPEG using both Microdrive and Flash Memory and the results are shown in the table below (devices were Formatted between tests).

F
R
A
M
E

2160 x 1440 RAW 2160 x 1440 JPEG
Microdrive Flash Microdrive Flash
secs fps secs fps secs fps secs fps
1 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
2 0.33 3.03 0.33 3.03 0.39 2.56 0.38 2.63
3 0.66 3.03 0.65 3.13 0.78 2.56 0.77 2.56
4 1.52 1.16 1.31 1.52 1.15 2.70 1.16 2.56
5 2.50 1.02 2.08 1.30 1.54 2.56 1.57 2.44
6 3.47 1.03 3.00 1.09 1.93 2.56 1.96 2.56
7 9.33 < 1.00 8.39 < 1.00 2.32 2.56 2.33 2.70
8 14.33 < 1.00 12.36 < 1.00 2.72 2.50 2.74 2.44
9 21.00 < 1.00 16.69 < 1.00 3.11 2.56 3.10 2.78
10 26.94 < 1.00 21.67 < 1.00 6.45 < 1.00 5.80 < 1.00
Flush: 26.99 Flush: 16.27 Flush: 21.52 Flush: 17.13

Microdrive: MK1 340 MB IBM Microdrive, Flash: 128 MB Delkin Flash

Frames per second (fps) was calculated as 1/(this frame time - last frame time), values less than 1 fps are not shown as they're not really very useful. It's obvious to see that the capacity of the D30's buffer is 3 RAW images or 9 FINE JPEG's (thus approx. 12 MBytes) after which time the camera lets you fire one shot every time there's enough space in the buffer for it (writing stops during the actual exposure). Interesting to note that RAW images are actually captured faster than JPEG (less processing) but because of their larger size they quickly fill the cameras buffer.

It was noted that if the camera is writing images out of the buffer there may be increased shutter lag for the first frame of the next burst, interrupting the writing process appears to add about 0.8 seconds to shutter lag for the first frame.

The final set of values (labeled "Flush") in this table is the amount of time it took after the 10th frame to complete flushing the entire buffer (red light on the CF compartment door went out).

Below is a graphical representation of the results above, vertical axis is frames per second, horizontal axis is frame count (obviously the first frame doesn't have a "fps").

Conclusions? The D30 is fairly fast, not blinding, and the internal buffer is no where near big enough to shoot continuous RAW. If you need to shoot continuous you'll have to stick to JPEG LARGE/FINE, our test also showed (though we haven't bothered to put the data up here) that at JPEG LARGE/NORMAL you could shoot up to 17 frames, JPEG SMALL/FINE you could shoot up to 17 frames, JPEG SMALL/NORMAL you could shoot up to 30 frames.

Note: AI Servo auto focus slows continuous mode by approx. 0.5 fps.


File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage media, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed (mirror noise was heard) and stopped when activity indicator LED on the compact flash door went out. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task".

The D30 continues to process images in the buffer and write data out to the storage media in parallel to you composing the next shot, writing is paused during the actual exposure time (shutter open/close).

Action Time taken
(seconds)
Media Average
File size
Approx. images on an Microdrive
(340 MB)
Save 2160 x 1440 RAW 6.3 Microdrive ~ 2,700 KB 125
Save 2160 x 1440 RAW 5.2 Flash
Save 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 4.1 Microdrive ~ 1,400 KB 240
Save 2160 x 1440 FINE JPEG 3.1 Flash

Note: 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 (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.


Battery life

In one word, outstanding. For such a tiny battery (and light weight) the little BP-511's seem to provide more than enough power (rated as 7.4V, 1100mAh, ~8Wh). The D30 lasted for ages and ages on one battery, indeed despite my best efforts I couldn't run the battery flat even on a very long shooting session (with review on and several "sit down and review the images" periods).

Because the D30 is an SLR the LCD isn't used as much (or at all if you disable review) during actual shooting, plus in theory CMOS sensors require a lower "spike" of power to actually capture an image. All this adds up to excellent battery life. With the optional battery grip (which can take two of these batteries) you should be able to happily shoot all day long!

Here's what Canon claim for battery life (I've no reason to doubt these figures):

Shooting Number of frames
No flash, normal temperature 680
No flash, low temperature 480
50% flash, normal temperature 540
50% flash, low temperature 400
  • The above figures were obtained under Canon test conditions (fully charged battery, EF 50mm 1.4 USM lens, Review function [On], Review Time [2 sec.], Quality [Large]).
  • Playback on the LCD monitor is available for approximately 140 minutes at normal temperature (continuous auto playback).
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