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Timing & Performance

One of Fujifilm's marketing claims for the E550 Zoom is the speed of operation - due in part to enhancements to the Super CCD processor. Our measurements certainly show the camera to be very fast - though by no means class-leading. It is unusually quick to start up for a camera with an extending lens (the lens actually takes just under a second to extend fully, and it's ready to shoot in around 1.5 seconds). The focus speed - especially at the wide end of the zoom - is excellent, and the shutter lag (S1>S2) superb. Focus is also very reliable, meaning hunting is rare except in low light at the long end of the zoom - the lack of an AF illuminator doesn't help here. This all means the camera feels very 'snappy' indeed in use. Less impressive is the continuous shooting ability, which appears to be limited by a small buffer, meaning you are limited to four shots in a burst, and there's quite a wait before you can resume shooting. The only real disappointment, though, is the slow flash recycle, which results in a delay of around five to seven seconds between shots.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 4048 x 3040 Fine JPEG image (approx. 4,300 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 512MB Fujifilm XD-Picture Card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record Ready to take first picture 1.5
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 2.4
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 1.3
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty, lens retracted ~0.5
Record Review Image displayed ~0.4
Mode: Record to Play   1.1
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended ~1.0
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended 1.5
Play: Magnify To full magnification (30x) 12MP image 7.3
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image ~1.4
Play: Thumbnail view 4 x 3 thumbnails ~0.2

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 32.5 to 130 mm (4 x) 1.5
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle ~0.5
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~0.9
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~0.09
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder ~0.05
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.6
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view ~2.1
Shot to Shot Flash off 1.5
Shot to Shot Flash on (with red eye reduction off) 7.1

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 512MB Fujifilm xD-Picture Card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

The E550 has three continuous shooting modes; Continuous (Top 4), Continuous (Final 4) and Long Period Continuous. The 'Top 4' option is a standard burst mode - 3.3 frames per second for a maximum of four frames. The 'Final 4' option is interesting; hold down the shutter and the camera will take shots at around 3fps (for a maximum of 40 shots) until you release the shutter. At this point the last four shots are saved to the card. In all cases a brief review image appears on-screen when shooting continuously.

Image Type
Mode
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
After
burst
*2
4048 x 3040 JPEG Fine Top 4 Continuous 3.3 fps 4 ~12s delay
4048 x 3040 JPEG Standard Top 4 Continuous 3.3 fps 4 ~11.8s delay  
2848 x 2136 JPEG Top 4 Continuous 3.3 fps 4 ~10.5s delay  
2048 x 1536 JPEG Top 4 Continuous 3.3 fps 4 ~9.5s delay  
1600 x 1200 JPEG Long period cont. 0.87 fps 40 ~12s delay

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).
*2 Once the buffer is full the E550 stops for 9-12 seconds (dependant on the file size) as the images are saved to the XD Picture Card

Whilst the measured frame rate of 3.3 fps is high for a compact camera - especially one recording images of 6 or 12MP - and indeed is actually higher than the figure quoted in Fujifilm's official spec, the four frame limit (and fairly long buffer clear time) limits the usefulness of the E550 as an 'action camera'.

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 the 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 512MB Fujifilm xD-Picture Card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
512MB Card
4048 x 3040 RAW ~5.3 ~0.4 12,600 KB 39
4048 x 3040 JPEG Fine ~2.2 ~0.4 4,270 KB 105
4048 x 3040 JPEG Standard ~2.2 ~0.4 2,400 KB 211
2848 x 2136 JPEG ~2.2 ~0.4 1,530 KB 339
2048 x 1536 JPEG ~2.2 ~0.4 680 KB 651
1600 x 1200 JPEG ~2.2 ~0.4 630 KB 818

*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.

The E550 is certainly no slouch (and produces identical results to the F810) when it comes to saving images to the xD-Picture Card, managing a very speedy 2.3 MB/s with RAW files and just under 2MB/s with JPEGs. This puts it very near the top of its class.

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