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Timings & File Sizes

The overall performance of the EOS 400D was good although not perhaps as 'snappy' in-use as its major competitor, the Nikon D80. Startup 'off to shot' time is as good as instant, which means assuming you are sure of camera settings you can flick the power switch and take a shot (auto focus willing) within a few tenths of a second. However the use of the LCD monitor for status display means if you wish to check your settings before shooting (as most of us do) you will have to wait just over one second. Record review was approximately the same as the EOS 350D and Nikon D80, as was play display (Canon's caching working slightly better than Nikon here).

Continuous shooting was a mixed bag, as good as specified but with strange sporadic bursts rather than simply a slower rate, once the buffer was full. Compact Flash write times were also good, and thanks to smart buffering would never really cause any 'real life' delay. One curiosity we observed here were the larger RAW files when shooting RAW+JPEG compared to RAW. Lastly I was disappointed Canon still haven't implemented a mass storage device driver in the camera, you are stuck with WIA which doesn't provide for transfer of RAW files.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3888 x 2592 JPEG Fine (approx. 3,100 KB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 2 GB SanDisk Extreme IV CF card
  • 2 GB Lexar Pro 133x CF card
  • 8 GB Lexar Pro 133x CF card
Action
Details
Time, secs
(2 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Time, secs
(8 GB Lexar)
Power Off to On *1   1.1
Power Off to Shot   <0.1
Sleep to On   1.1
Sleep to Shot   <0.1
Power On to Off *2   1.5
Record Review *3
RAW
1.5 1.5 1.5
Record Review *3
JPEG
1.5 1.5 1.5
Play *4
RAW
0.6 / <0.2 0.6 / <0.2 0.6 / <0.2
Play *4
JPEG
1.1 / <0.2 1.1 / <0.2 1.1 / <0.2
Play Image to Image *4
RAW
0.4 / <0.2 0.4 / <0.2 0.4 / <0.2
Play Image to Image *4
JPEG
1.0 / <0.2 1.0 / <0.2 1.0 / <0.2

*1 This is the time from turning the switch to the 'On' position to the status display appearing on the LCD monitor (as soon as you would be able to verify camera settings). As you can see from the 'Off to Shot' time this doesn't actually affect how quickly you can begin using the camera (as good as instant) assuming you knew the camera was in the correct mode.
*2 This is taken up with 'Sensor cleaning' (dust removal), if you disable automatic sensor cleaning the power off time is instant.
*3 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*4

Just like previous Canon digital SLRs the EOS 400D caches images which have been viewed recently to speed up browsing in play mode. The first timing is for the camera to load the image from the media card (if it has not already been cached), the second is if they have been viewed and cached by the camera.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/200 sec, F5.6), ISO 200. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above.

Sporadic 'buffer full' bursts

When shooting continuously the camera is writing images to its buffer and these are being processed and written out to the storage card 'in the background'. Typically once the buffer is full the continuous shooting rate simply slows to the speed at which the camera can remove an image from the buffer and make space for another (hence the storage card write speed), this normally equates to a frame a second. The EOS 400D demonstrates a quite different behaviour, which is far more difficult to predict.

Once the EOS 400D's buffer is full it simply pauses, for a few seconds, and then fires off another burst of shots (or just one) and then pauses again. This sporadic 'buffer full' continuous shooting is best demonstrated by waveforms of audio recordings (shown below).

JPEG Large/Fine - 31 images in the intial burst, then a pause of 5.6 seconds, then burst of nine shots shortly followed by another five (and so on).
RAW - 11 images in the intial burst, then a pause of 3.6 seconds, then one shot, then a pause of 2.5 seconds, then two more shots (and so on).

This sporadic shooting made it a little more difficult to test the EOS 400D, hence we could not measure the 'buffer full rate' or 'next burst' was we normally do.

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was always 3.0 fps (+/- 0.05 fps)
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Write complete - How long after the last shot before the CF lamp goes out

Burst of JPEG Large/Fine images

Timing
2 GB SanDisk
2 GB Lexar
8 GB Lexar
Frame rate 3.0 fps 3.0 fps 3.0 fps
Number of frames 31 31 29
Write complete 7.7 sec 8.5 sec 18.5 sec

Burst of JPEG Large/Standard images

Timing
2 GB SanDisk
2 GB Lexar
8 GB Lexar
Frame rate 3.0 fps 3.0 fps 3.0 fps
Number of frames - - 68
Write complete - - 21.1 sec

Burst of RAW images

Timing
2 GB SanDisk
2 GB Lexar
8 GB Lexar
Frame rate 3.0 fps 3.0 fps 3.0 fps
Number of frames 11 11 11
Write complete 11.3 sec 11.3 sec 12.9 sec

The EOS 400D's actual continuous shooting performance was as specified, three frames per second and bursts greater than the specified minimum (31/11 vs. 27/10; JPEG/RAW). It's what happens once the buffer is full that concerns us. The most graceful way to manage a full buffer is to allow the camera to take one shot each time enough buffer space becomes available (this would be the write time per image), most other digital SLR's handle a 'buffer full' situation in this way (dropping to around one frame per second). The EOS 400D's sporadic 'buffer full' burst-type shooting was confusing and difficult to predict and could lead to some odd results in a real life situation.

File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. Timing was taken from the instant the shutter release was pressed to the time the storage card activity indicator lamp went out. The activity indicator light comes almost as soon as you press the shutter release, this either means that the EOS 400D begins writing immediately or that Canon is masking the delay to write. Writing continues 'in the background' and doesn't affect any camera function. Media used were the same as above.

Image type
Time, secs
(2 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Time, secs
(8 GB Lexar)
Approx.
size
3888 x 2592 RAW + JPEG *1 3.2 3.2 4.3 15,260 KB
3888 x 2592 RAW 2.6 2.6 2.9 9,300 KB
3888 x 2592 JPEG Fine 1.4 1.5 1.9 3,100 KB
3888 x 2592 JPEG Standard 1.0 1.1 1.5 1,500 KB

*1 File size reported here is the size of the RAW and JPEG files added together. Oddly when you shoot RAW+JPEG the RAW (.CR2) file is approximately the size of the JPEG larger than it would be if you shoot just RAW (12,100 KB vs 9,300 KB) this clearly hints that as well as writing a separate Large / Fine JPEG the 400D is also embedding this image within the RAW (.CR2) file.

Single shot write times are fast enough to be unnoticeable, especially considering the background processing and buffering. As noted above we found the .CR2 files created in RAW+JPEG mode to be around 3 MB larger than in just RAW mode, indicating that perhaps Canon are also embedding the full quality, full resolution Large/Fine JPEG within the .CR2 file in RAW+JPEG mode. The only difference in performance was with the larger FAT32 format card which was slightly slower. Overall write performance was between 4 and 5 MB/sec (although this is difficult to verify because of the way the activity indicator comes on as soon as the shot is taken).

USB transfer speed

To test the EOS 400D's USB speed we transferred approximately 200 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a SanDisk Extreme IV 2 GB CF card (the same card used in the other readers). With the 400D connected the only transfer method available is WIA, Canon doesn't provide a simple 'mass storage device' feature in the camera (enabling the camera to act as a normal card reader). Because of this you have to have EOS Utility installed to ensure the transfer of all your images (as drag-and-drop WIA doesn't support RAW), frankly the EOS Utility transfer speed was pretty poor.

Method
Transfer rate
EOS 400D USB 2.0 via EOS Utility (WIA) 3.2 MB/sec
CardBus 32 PCMCIA adapter 10.5 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme USB 2.0 reader 14.8 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme Firewire 800 reader 30.6 MB/sec

Battery life

The EOS 400D uses the same small Lithium-Ion NB-2LH battery as the EOS 350D, this provides 720 mAh at 7.4 V which is around 65% the capacity of the larger BP-511A battery used in the EOS 30D. Quoted CIPA test battery life compared to the EOS 350D is down, but not significantly, this will no doubt be due to the use of the main LCD monitor for status display. We didn't suffer any flat battery situations, however I would recommend carrying a spare battery for all day shoots. Canon report tested battery life as:

Temperature
No Flash
50% Flash use
At 23°C / 73 °F
500
360
At 0°C / 32°F
370
280
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Comments

Total comments: 6
Killerspec

I bought the EOS Rebel Xti a while back now have some holiday time on my hands over the xmas period and would like to learn more about the camera. Anyone able to tell me how I am able to take RAW format pictures with this camera.

Thanks.

0 upvotes
reanim888

The Canon 400D remains a very good first dSLR, with a balance of automatic, semi-automatic and manual controls to progress through as your creative photography skills improve.
I think it's very important for every Digital Photo Camera!

1 upvote
Sam Spark

I think all of the camera makers (Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.) have been doing the same thing… just making minor, poor, or inconsequential upgrades to their cameras. I think they all got caught blindsided by the smart phone market.

1 upvote
canonaholic

Was a great little thing

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
512A385C4A114355B73DB0DC6598F611

I want to know if kiss digital 400D can be used to shoot videos and movies. Can it also be used to shoot on long hours?

0 upvotes
canonaholic

No! This has no video capability whatsoever!
Doesn't even have live-view!!!

0 upvotes
Total comments: 6