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Timings & File Sizes

Overall the EOS-D60 is a fast digital SLR, especially considering the additional data (six megapixels) it's having to deal with. Review timings, the area where I thought the camera would suffer are either the same or just slightly slower. About the only times I found myself urging the camera to hurry up were during buffered writes of multiple images which clearly took longer than the D30 and at startup where two seconds can sometimes feel like an eternity. The D60's use of its internal buffer has been significantly improved, read 'Smart buffering' below.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3072 x 2048 Large / Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,500 KB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 512 MB SimpleTech Type II Compact Flash card
  • 512 MB Lexar 16x Pro Type I Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card
Action Details Time, seconds
(SimpleTech CF)
Time, seconds
(Lexar 16x CF)
Time, seconds
(Microdrive)
Power: Off to On   2.1 2.3 2.0
Power: On to Off *1   <0.1 <0.1 <0.1
Record: Review *2 JPEG 1.6 1.6 1.6
Record: Review *2 RAW 1.7 1.8 1.8
Record: Review (Info) *2 JPEG 1.8 1.8 1.8
Record: Review (Info) *2 RAW 2.0 2.1 2.0
Play: Image to Image *3 JPEG 1.8 2.0 2.7
Play: Image to Image *3 RAW 1.3 1.3 2.2
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3   0.9 1.0 2.1
Play: Magnify to x3.0   1.0 1.0 1.0

*1 Assuming all buffered images have been written out to storage card, otherwise camera displays a "count down" bar on the top information LCD panel to indicate the buffer being emptied to the CF card. Once complete the camera will power off fully.
*2 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*3

This timing is the amount of time it takes the camera to load the 'finer' image, this is required for a histogram or for magnification. However, browsing quickly through the images using the quick control dial is virtually instant.


Smart buffering

With the advent of the D60 comes a larger internal buffer, it's large enough to hold up to eight six megapixel unprocessed images. The amount of free space in the buffer is displayed on the far right side of the viewfinder status bar as a single numeric digit (buffer space indicator).

But that's not the end of the story, Canon have done something very clever with the D60's buffer and that has improved both continuous and single shot drive modes. The D60 uses its internal buffer for two purposes: buffer data is it comes from the CMOS sensor (call this the unprocessed data) and buffer converted image files before they are written to the CF card.

Image processing sequence:

  1. Record data as it comes off the CMOS sensor, unprocessed data (approx. 9.3 MB per shot)
  2. Store this unprocessed data in the SDRAM buffer
  3. Process this data into image files (JPEG or compressed RAW)
  4. Buffer these converted image files (JPEG approx. 2.5 MB or RAW approx. 7.0 MB)
  5. Write JPEG / RAW image files to CF card

This means that although the buffer can be filled with a continuous burst of eight shots it quickly regains buffer space as the unprocessed images are converted into the JPEG or RAW image files. In a real life situation it's easy to believe that the stage 2 runs concurrently to new unprocessed data being buffered.

I discovered this when I noticed that the camera will not write to the CF card while the shutter release was half-pressed but that the buffer space counter would count back up to eight after a burst of shots.

Take eight shots in a continuous burst, keep your finger half-pressed on the shutter release and despite the fact that nothing is being written to the CF card you will see the buffer space indicator fairly quickly count back up again. Remove your finger from the shutter release and the counter doesn't change but you can observe data being written to the CF card (indicator light on the CF compartment door flickers).

Repeating this test for both JPEG Large/Fine and RAW I discovered that the buffer has space for:

  • 8 x JPEG Large/Fine images and approx. 6 seconds later indicates space to shoot 8 more
  • 8 x RAW images and approx. 8 seconds later indicates space to shoot 5 more

This means that the D60 takes just approx. 640 ms to turn the unprocessed data a JPEG Large / Fine file and approx. 1600 ms for a compressed RAW file.


Low Light Auto Focus

This test is designed to measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.

Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. Before the shutter release is half pressed the lens is manually focused to the closest subject distance (typically 0.5 m) to "throw the focus out". This test target is the optimum type of subject for most AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center).

Lens Focal
len.
Aperture
at focal len.
AF
lamp?
Lowest light focus Time to focus
from near
*1
EF 28 - 70 mm F2.8 L 70 mm F2.8 Yes Complete darkness 2.8 sec
EF 28 - 70 mm F2.8 L 70 mm F2.8 No 1.7 EV 3.3 sec
EF 28 - 135 mm F3.5 - 5.6 28 mm F3.5 Yes Complete darkness 2.9 sec
EF 28 - 135 mm F3.5 - 5.6 28 mm F3.5 No 2.2 EV*2 4.5 sec
EF 28 - 135 mm F3.5 - 5.6 135 mm F5.6 Yes Complete darkness 6.2 sec
EF 28 - 135 mm F3.5 - 5.6 135 mm F5.6 No 2.5 EV 4.5 sec

*1 Lens was manually focused to closest subject distance before AF was started. This is the time for the camera to focus from its closest subject distance to a solid AF lock. If the lens focus position is already near to the final focus position then focusing is much faster (almost instant in most cases)
*2 First attempt camera hunted and after 10 seconds gave up, lens was reset to closest subject distance and second attempt locked.
  Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)

For reference purposes the 28 - 70 mm L took around 1.5 seconds to do this test in medium light (about 5.0 EV) and the 28 - 135 mm took between 1.8 and 2.2 seconds. As you can see the more light that gets to the AF system (the wider the maximum aperture) the better, this is simply common sense but is backed up by our results. Other factors are the contrast of the subject, clearly our subject has good contrast but a human face for instance will have a lot less contrast.

With the professional 'L' lens the camera manages to focus down to light levels of 2.7 EV without the AF assist lamp and complete darkness with it. Either way maximum focus time was just over 3 seconds. With the consumer level 28 - 135 mm results were more mixed, leave AF assist switched on and you'll be able to focus in darkness, switch it off and you'll need around 3.5 EV of light before you'll get a solid focus lock and that may takeup to 6 seconds.

Compared to the EOS-D30

The following test was carried out to test the D60's "improved low light auto focus", tests carried out without the AF assist lamp. Light levels were dimmed until the D60 could not focus and then very slightly increased until it could AF lock. This process was repeated for the D30. I measured a very slight improvement of around 0.5 EV in low light auto focus between the D30 and D60.

  • D30 & 28 - 70 F2.8 L: 2.2 EV (lock < 3 sec)
  • D60 & 28 - 70 F2.8 L: 1.7 EV (lock < 3 sec)

AF Assist Lamp

The D60's AF Assist Lamp now fires up to six times (compared to three times for the D30) which can improve the cameras abilities of 'catching' the focus in darkness or near darkness. Another improvement is that Custom Function 5 now allows you to use the AF lamp on an external flash (such as the 550EX) to assist auto focus (better low light range, speed and accuracy) without actually firing the flash at the time of exposure.


Single-shot drive mode

There was a problem with the D30 in the way that it used its buffer in Single Shot drive mode, you couldn't take the next shot until the currently buffered image had been processed (converted into the JPEG / RAW output file). This meant that after taking a single shot the camera displayed a 'Busy' warning on the viewfinder LCD (approx. 1.5 seconds) and you couldn't take the next shot until it had gone.

This limitation has now been removed, with the D60 you can take shots as quickly as either you can press the shutter release or the camera can auto focus. And because of the way the D60 uses its buffer (see above) it means that in Single-shot drive mode you will almost NEVER find yourself in a situation where you can't take the next shot.


Continuous drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/250s, F3.5), ISO 400. It was soon discovered that no matter what image output setting the shooting rate was always 3.3 fps (+/-0.1 fps). So, instead of testing the shooting rate I instead measured three different times:

  • Next shot - How soon after a burst of eight shots you can take the next
  • Next burst - How soon after a burst of eight shots you can take another eight
  • Full write - How long a burst of eight shots takes to be processed and written to the CF

The media used for these tests were:

  • 512 MB SimpleTech Type II Compact Flash card
  • 512 MB Lexar 16x Pro Type I Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card

Burst of eight JPEG images

Timing 512 MB SimpleTech 512 MB Lexar 16x 1 GB Microdrive
Next shot 1.1 sec 1.0 sec 1.1 sec
Next burst 6.0 sec 6.2 sec 6.5 sec
Full write 16.8 sec 18.1 sec 21.5 sec

Burst of eight RAW images

Timing 512 MB SimpleTech 512 MB Lexar 16x 1 GB Microdrive
Next shot 1.7 sec 1.8 sec 1.8 sec
Next burst 23.8 sec 22.8 sec 27.0 sec
Full write 45.9 sec 44.5 sec 55.9 sec

It's fair to say that six seconds isn't a long time to wait before taking the next burst of eight frames. Clearly once you've done that you're then going to have to wait until the first burst have been fully written (16 seconds best case) before taking another eight but it's still an impressive performance when you consider each image has six megapixels of data and weighs in as a 2.5 MB JPEG. From the results above you can see that the flash storage devices managed to outperform the Microdrive, although not by huge margins.


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 D60 continues to process images in the buffer and write data out to the storage media in parallel to you composing (and taking) the next shot. It only pauses this writing if you half-press the shutter release.

The media used for these tests were:

  • 512 MB SimpleTech Type II Compact Flash card
  • 512 MB Lexar 16x Pro Type I Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card
Store Time, secs
(SimpleTech)
Time, secs
(Lexar 16x)
Time, secs
(Microdrive)
Approx. *2
File size
Approx. *2 512 MB card
L 3072 x 2048 RAW 6.4 6.0 7.4 7.4 MB 66
L 3072 x 2048 Fine 2.2 2.2 3.3 2.5 MB 197
L 3072 x 2048 Normal 1.4 1.3 2.3 1.3 MB 375
M 2048 x 1360 Fine 1.4 1.3 2.3 1.4 MB 360
S 1536 x 1024 Fine 0.8 0.8 1.5 0.9 MB 557

*1 Timer was started as soon as the storage compartment light came on and stopped when this light went off. This was seen as the ACTUAL recording time. Add approximately 1.2 seconds to these times to get the amount of time from moment of shutter release to image flushed away to the storage card.
*2 At ISO 100. Note that the D60 changes its estimated remaining frame count based on the current ISO sensitivity (due to the fact that higher ISO images have more noise and will therefore make larger JPEG files).

These timings are mostly a factor of the media used and the speed of the D60's CF interface. For the SimpleTech and Lexar 16x cards we approximate a throughput of 1.2 MB/sec. For the Microdrive this drops to 1.0 MB/sec (probably because of the initial 'spin up' delay). These speeds are virtually identical to the D30 (except for the Microdrive write speed which does seem to have been improved slightly).


Battery life

I raved about the little BP-511 battery pack in my D30 review. Thankfully the D60 maintains the same power source, it too uses the BP-511 (7.4V, 1100mAh, 8.1 Wh). This small, lightweight Lithium-Ion battery provides enough power for at least 500 shots, this would last most people all day long. The great thing about the battery is that it is so small it's no trouble to carry a spare, just in case.

Canon supplied battery life data

Temperature Shooting conditions
No flash use 50% flash use
Normal (20°C / 68°F) Approx. 620 Approx. 490
Low (0°C / 32°F) Approx. 480 Approx. 400
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Comments

Total comments: 2
DomLouise
By DomLouise (8 months ago)

I own this camera currently. What is the worth of this camera now?? Above you say it's worth $1,999 for the basic body. It's obviously been a 11 years since this article was written.

0 upvotes
rtkennedy7
By rtkennedy7 (8 months ago)

I was looking through B & H used cameras online today, and saw the D-60 in (9) excellent condition for $159.00, and bought it. I've been looking for one for two years and the lowest price I could find for average condition was $250.00, until today. Were you happy with yours?

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Total comments: 2