Timing & Performance
It's neck and neck between the DiMAGE A2 and Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom for the fastest eight megapixel digital camera (at this point in time). The C-8080 Wide Zoom with its ultra-fast sub-one-second startup time, the DiMAGE A2 faster in operation and Auto Focus speed.
Startup time is a respectable two seconds, although to my mind it could be even faster as the camera doesn't have an extending lens to deal with, just software power-up. Other functions are fairly fast, switching between modes (record / quick-view / play) is acceptably fast nothing taking much longer than one and a half seconds.
Most impressive however is the ability to 'pump' the shutter release with very short shot to shot times you can literally keep tapping away at the shutter release button and capturing each time (as long as you don't fill the camera's internal buffer). Auto focus was stated as and felt faster than the DiMAGE A1, especially when switched to Spot AF mode where the camera delivered very fast AF lock in anything above 'moderate' light levels. (However we did note that the AF system would sometimes confirm an AF lock which was not actually accurate).
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3264 x 2448 Fine JPEG image (approx. 3,600 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.
|Power: Off to Record||Live view appears||2.2|
|Power: Off to Play||Initial image displayed||2.8|
|Power: Record to Off||Includes required one second button hold||2.8|
|Power: Play to Off||2.7|
|Record Review||Image displayed||1.2|
|Mode: Record to QV||Image displayed||1.6|
|Mode: Record to Play||Image displayed||1.5|
|Mode: Play to Record||Live view appears||1.5|
|Play: Magnify||To first level, 2x magnification||5.2|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||1.0|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle (Auto AF Area)||0.3 - 0.8|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto (Auto AF Area)||0.5 - 1.5|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle (Spot AF Area)||0.3 - 0.8|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto (Spot AF Area)||0.3 - 1.2|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||Wide angle (LCD / EVF)||0.1|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||Wide angle (Auto / Spot AF Area)||0.3 / 0.2|
|Off to Shot Taken||Wide angle (Auto / Spot AF Area)||2.5 / 2.5|
|Shot to Shot||Instant Playback Enabled||1.2|
|Shot to Shot||No Instant Playback||1.0|
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).
|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)
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. Note that continuous shooting modes are not available for RAW image format. Media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/250 sec during these tests.
High / Low speed continuous drive modes
|Frames in one burst *1||
|3264 x 2448 RAW||High||2.5 fps||3||20.0 sec|
|3264 x 2448 Extra Fine||High||2.5 fps||3||8.6 sec|
|3264 x 2448 Fine||High||2.5 fps||3||7.0 sec|
|3264 x 2448 Normal||High||2.5 fps||3||3.9 sec|
|2560 x 1920 Fine||High||2.5 fps||3||6.3 sec|
|1600 x 1200 Fine||High||2.5 fps||3||5.2 sec|
|3264 x 2448 RAW||Standard||1.8 fps||3||20.0 sec|
|3264 x 2448 Extra Fine||Standard||1.8 fps||3||8.5 sec|
|3264 x 2448 Fine||Standard||1.8 fps||3||6.8 sec|
|3264 x 2448 Normal||Standard||1.8 fps||3||4.6 sec|
|2560 x 1920 Fine||Standard||1.8 fps||3||5.8 sec|
|1600 x 1200 Fine||Standard||1.8 fps||3||4.6 sec|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release). In Continuous High mode the maximum frames you can shoot is always five. In Continuous Low mode the maximum frames is a function of the camera processor, buffer size and the write speed of your Compact Flash card).|
|*2||You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background").|
Continuous shooting, but just three frames. Konica Minolta really shouldn't have bothered going for the high frame rates but instead concentrated on providing a larger number of frames in a single burst. It looks as though the camera is limited by its internal buffer as it doesn't begin writing images until it has completed the burst. We want, expect more...
Ultra High Speed continuous drive modes
Ultra High Speed mode shoots in VGA resolution (640 x 480) at seven frames per second and can continue for several hundred frames without pause.
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 beside the Compact Flash compartment door had gone 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 media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.
on a *4
1 GB Card
|3264 x 2448 TIFF||31.3||<0.1||23,520 KB||42|
|3264 x 2448 RAW & JPEG||20.6||<0.1||14,800 KB||62|
|3264 x 2448 RAW||16.7||<0.1||12,375 KB||84|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine||7.1||<0.1||4,200 KB||125|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||5.3||<0.1||3,200 KB||247|
|2560 x 1920 JPEG Fine||4.4||<0.1||1,800 KB||395|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||3.5||<0.1||800 KB||919|
|*1||Subtract 1.1 seconds for the actual CF write time.|
|*2||Image to image browsing in play mode is about as near to instant as you could possibly get, very impressive and very very usable. The A2 manages this without accessing the CF card (after the first image), therefore I assume it is doing so by loading image thumbnails into its RAM buffer. This theory is supported by the amount of time it takes to magnify an image, up to six seconds for a full resolution Extra-Fine JPEG.|
|*3||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).|
You can take another image as soon as there is space in the camera's internal buffer, when shooting JPEG this would be nearly always the case however in RAW or TIFF modes or after shooting a burst of images you must wait for the available frames indicator on the LCD/EVF to turn back to white from its 'buffer full' yellow color before taking another shot.
Write times were longer than I had expected, if we subtract the 1.1 second 'processing delay' we get approximately 4.2 seconds for a 3,200 KB image, that's around 760 KB/sec which is pretty slow, indeed about half what we've seen from other prosumer level cameras.
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. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).
at focal len.
|Lowest light focus||Time
|Wide (28 mm equiv.)||F2.8||-1.1 EV||1.6 sec|
|Tele (200 mm equiv.)||F3.5||1.0 EV||2.2 sec|
|Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)|
Even without an AF assist lamp the DiMAGE A2 manages to focus relatively quickly even in very low light. This is probably due to the very high gain black and white mode the sensor is switched to for enhanced live view in low light, it seems also to improve AF ability.
We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:
- Take 4 shots without flash
- Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
- Take 1 shot with flash
- Wait 1 minute
Batteries are fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
Prosumer / SLR-Like
|Battery||Power||Battery life||Number of shots|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 14 mins||125|
|Minolta DiMAGE 5||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 56 mins||195|
|Nikon Coolpix 5700||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 08 mins||215|
|Canon PowerShot S40||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 13 mins||225|
|Minolta DiMAGE S304||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 18 mins||235|
|Canon PowerShot S45||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 28 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 4500||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 27 mins||250|
|Fujifilm FinePix 6900Z||NP-80||4.1 Wh||2 hr 29 mins||250|
|Nikon Coolpix 990||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 995||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 5000||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 32 mins||260|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Canon PowerShot Pro1||BP-511A||10.2 Wh||2 hr 36 mins||265|
|Canon PowerShot S50||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Minolta DiMAGE S404||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Sony DSC-V1||NP-FC11||2.8 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Olympus C-7000 Zoom||LI-12B||4.5 Wh||2 hr 44 mins||280|
|Nikon Coolpix 8700||EN-EL1||5.0 Wh||2 hr 45 mins||280|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7i||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 46 mins||270|
|Olympus E-20||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Canon PowerShot G1||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 00 mins||300|
|Nikon Coolpix 5400||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||3 hr 06 mins||315|
|HP Photosmart 850||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 12 mins||325|
|Sony DSC-S75||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 15 mins||330|
|Nikon Coolpix 8800||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||3 hr 27 mins||350|
|Fujifilm FinePix S602Z||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 29 mins||350|
|Canon PowerShot G2||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 32 mins||355|
|Casio QV-4000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 38 mins||365|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||380|
|Casio EXILIM EX-P700||NP-40||4.5 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||385|
|Sony DSC-S85||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 50 mins||400|
|Sony DSC-F717||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 02 mins||405|
|Pentax Optio 750Z||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 03 mins||415|
|Sony DSC-V3||NP-FR1||4.4 Wh||4 hr 05 mins||415|
|Nikon Coolpix 8400||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||4 hr 09 mins||420|
|Sony DSC-F707||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 20 mins||440|
|Fujifilm S7000 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||4 hr 23 mins||445|
|Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2||NP-400||11.1 Wh||4 hr 26 mins||450|
|Canon PowerShot G3||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 32 mins||455|
|Canon PowerShot G5||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 33 mins||460|
|Pentax Optio 550||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 36 mins||465|
|Minolta DiMAGE A1||NP-400||11.1 Wh||5 hr 02 mins||515|
|Leica Digilux 2||BP-DC1-E||10.1 Wh||5 hr 05 mins||515|
|Sony DSC-F828||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||5 hr 28 mins||540|
|Fujifilm FinePix S5000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||5 hr 31 mins||555|
|Canon PowerShot G6||BP-511A||10.3 Wh||5 hr 38 mins||570|
|Olympus C-8080 WZ||BLM-1||10.8 Wh||5 hr 52 mins||595|
|Other test notes:|
| LCD monitor is left on during
the battery test
The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set
The DiMAGE A2 fell just 36 minutes short of its 'old brother' the DiMAGE A1 in our battery tests, and while it is less at four and a half hours it's still remarkably respectable and considerably better lasting than some of the competition, most notably the Canon PowerShot Pro1 which lasted just two and a half hours on a similar capacity battery.