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Timing & Performance

Overall performance is very similar to the S3 IS, though the DIGIC III processor speeds up a few areas fractionally (and there are some areas where the S5 IS is actually a bit slower than its predecessor), but in use it's hard to see any difference - no bad thing as the S3 was a very speedy camera in pretty much all respects. It's disappointing to see the fall in continuous shooting performance, which - though allowing you to shoot until the card is full - is, at 1.5 or so frames per second, lagging slightly behind most competitors. We were also disappointed to see that the shutter lag hasn't been improved.

As a whole, however, it's hard to fault the S5 IS performance-wise; it never feels sluggish and is amongst the most responsive cameras in this class.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3264 x 2448 Super-Fine JPEG image (approx. 3,750 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Action Details
Time, secs

Power: Off to Record

  1.2
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 1.1
Power: Record to Off Lens retracted and all activity ceased 1.4
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty 0.0
Record Review Image displayed ~ 0.3
Mode: Record to Play   1.4
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended ~ 0.9
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended 1.3
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) 0.9
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image ~ 0.4 *1
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 0.6

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 36 to 432 mm (12 x) full speed 0.9
Zoom from Wide to Tele 36 to 432 mm (12 x) low speed 2.6
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle ~ 0.25
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~ 0.5 *2
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~ 0.08
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Electronic Viewfinder ~ 0.1 *3
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~ 0.45
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view 1.7
Shot to Shot Flash off 1.7
Shot to Shot Flash on (red-eye reduction off) *4 2.0
Shot to Shot Flash on (red-eye reduction on) *4 2.0
*1 You can also scroll quickly through low resolution thumbnails at 6fps by holding down the left or right button.
*2 This is an average figure for 'normal' photography, though there are occasions where the S5 IS struggles to fix focus at the long end of the zoom with low-contrast subjects in low light, when the time can extend to well over a second (in low light it takes from 0.6 to 1.7 secs).
*3 As with the S3 IS there is a very slight difference between the viewfinder and the screen. The lag is caused by a very slight lag in the live video preview image (if you shoot without using the screen, the 'true' shutter lag is around 0.05 seconds).
*4 In this test the subject distance is only 3 feet (0.9 m) - the recycle time will increase at greater subject distances, and if the batteries are running low.

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. Media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

The S5 IS has two continuous shooting modes (continuous and continuous-AF), both of which allow you to shoot pretty much indefinitely (we gave up counting after about 70 shots) with a fast card. The difference (as the name suggests) is that the continuous-AF mode refocuses between each shot, which slows the rate down to under one frame per second (or longer if the camera struggles to focus).

Image Type
Mode
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
After
burst
*2
All sizes / JPEG Super-Fine Continuous 1.5 fps n/a n/a
All sizes / JPEG Fine Continuous 1.5 fps n/a n/a
All sizes / JPEG Super-Fine Continuous-AF 0.9 fps n/a n/a
All sizes / JPEG Fine Continuous-AF 0.9 fps n/a n/a

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).
*2 With the shutter release held down. With a fast card it is impossible to fill the buffer

Though the S5 IS offers a perfectly respectable burst mode performance it's disappointing that the high speed mode offered by the S3 IS has been dropped.

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 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
1.0GB Card
3264 x 2448 JPEG Super-Fine 0.9 0.3 3,750 KB 286
3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine 0.9  0.3 2,400 KB 476
3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal 0.8  0.3 1,110 KB 983
2592 x 1944 JPEG Super-Fine 0.7 0.2 2,400 KB 391
1600 x 1200 JPEG Super-Fine 0.8  0.2 1,650 KB 967
640 x 480 JPEG Super-Fine 0.8  0.2 180 3,644

*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.

At less than a second to save a 3.7MB file the S5 IS is fast - though not blisteringly so - and certainly benefits from a faster SD card (particualarly if you like to shoot a lot of pictures in rapid succession), though the excellent buffering helps too.

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