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Timing & Performance

Looking at the performance of the A200 next to the A2 it is hard to decide whether things have been improved or not. In some areas there are noticeable improvements (switching from record to playback modes for example, and file write speed), but where it really matters - focus speed, shutter lag and shot-to-shot times, we found no improvement at all (in fact shutter lag and focus speed seem marginally slower, though not by a wide margin). This would all seem to indicate that the A200 is as subtly different from the A2 under the skin as it is on the outside.

In use, however, the A200 doesn't feel too sluggish unless you're trying to take shots in rapid succession. I was disappointed by the lengthened shot-to-shot time, but soon discovered that by switching to spot focus (which reduces focus times by around 15%) and turning off the brief post capture review you can shave a second or so off the shot to shot time. That said, this is still a step backwards from the A2, which happily manages a shot every second or so using the same settings. The advantage of the A200 is that you're less likely to hit the buffer barrier as you were with the A2.

So in general the changes are swings and roundabouts; some better, some worse, all relatively minor. Unless you're shooting action, when not only will the focus speed and lag probably frustrate you, but the camera's annoying habit of taking out-of-focus pictures when you try and shoot too fast will drive you to distraction, you're likely to the find the A200 as responsive as you'll ever need.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3264 x 2448 'X-Fine' JPEG image (approx. 2,950 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record Live view appears 2.6
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 2.2
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 1.5
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty 0.6
Record Review Image displayed ~0.9
Mode: Record to Play Using main mode switch 1.1
Mode: Record to Play Using 'quick view' button 0.8
Mode: Play to Record Using main mode switch 1.7
Mode: Play to Record From Quick View mode 1.3
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x)*1 3.4
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image <0.2
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 2.0

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 28 to 200 mm (7 x) n/a
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle 0.8 - 1.9
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto*2 1.2 - 3.6
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~0.15
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder ~0.15
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.8
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view 3.9
Shot to Shot Flash off *3 3.7
Shot to Shot Flash on (red eye reduction off) 4.2
*1 You can change the camera preferences to remove the intermediate zoom steps (i.e. pressing the magnify button jumps directly to 10x). In this case the delay drop to around 0.7 secs for a full size/best quality file.
*2 The A200's half press lag varies widely, especially at the tele end - most of the time it averages around 1.0 to 1.6 seconds, but if it has trouble locking on to the subject this can increase to around 3.6 seconds
*3 If you use spot focus, and turn off noise reduction and post display you can reduce the shot to shot time to around 2.5 seconds without flash

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 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CompactFlash card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

The A200 has three 'drive' modes; Continuous (2.0 fps on the spec sheet), High Speed Continuous (2.3 fps) and Ultra High Speed (10 fps, 640 x 480 pixels only).

Continuous drive mode

In continuous mode the A200 shows the live preview image briefly between frames. When used with continuous AF, the focus adjusts between frames. The maximum number of frames in a burst is always five. How long you have to wait before you can take another shot (whilst the buffer clears) depends on the file size and quality setting. In any case the screen goes blank for a period after a burst (during which the camera is effectively locked). This period averages around 8.5 seconds when shooting JPEGs, and around 19 secs when shooting RAW. There is then a further delay before another single shot can be taken (around 2 secs in JPEG mode, 9 secs in RAW). If you want to take another burst you have to wait another 2 or 3 seconds (JPEG) or 17 seconds (RAW). This means when shooting JPEGs you're looking at a delay of up to 14 seconds between bursts, with RAW files this stretches to around 45 seconds. This figure (the delay between bursts) is the one used in the table below.

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
Time to store
after last frame
*2
3264 x 2448 RAW 2.0 fps 5 45 sec
3264 x 2448 X-FINE 2.0 fps 5 16 sec
3264 x 2448 FINE 2.0 fps 5 14 sec
2560 x 1920 X-FINE 2.0 fps 5 14 sec
2080 1560 X-FINE 2.0 fps 5 12 sec
1600 x 1200 X-FINE 2.0 fps 5 12 sec

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release) until the buffer is full.
*2 Once you've taken 5 shots the screen goes blank for 8-9 secs (JPEG)/19 secs (RAW). After another 2-3 secs (9 secs for RAW) you can take further shots at approximately 1 every 5 seconds. The times shown here are the total delay between bursts.

Continuous drive mode (High Speed mode)

In continuous mode the A200's screen stays blank and the focus remains fixed between frames. Otherwise the delays caused by clearing the buffer are identical to the standard continuous shooting mode (above).

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
Time to store
after last frame
*2
3264 x 2448 RAW 2.35 fps 5 45 sec
3264 x 2448 X-FINE 2.35 fps 5 16 sec
3264 x 2448 FINE 2.35 fps 5 14 sec
2560 x 1920 X-FINE 2.35 fps 5 14 sec
2080 1560 X-FINE 2.35 fps 5 12 sec
1600 x 1200 X-FINE 2.35 fps 5 12 sec

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release) until the buffer is full.
*2 Once you've taken 5 shots the screen goes blank for 8-9 secs (JPEG)/19 secs (RAW). After another 2-3 secs (9 secs for RAW) you can take further shots at approximately 1 every 5 seconds. The times shown here are the total delay between bursts.

Continuous drive mode (Ultra High Speed mode)

The A200's final burst mode is 'Ultra High Speed', which manages a sustained 10 frames per second for around 40 frames (despite the specification suggesting that you can shoot indefinitely in this mode). Focus is fixed and the live preview is visible on-screen. Resolution is fixed at 640 x 480 pixels, regardless of the quality/size setting selected.

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
Time to store
after last frame
*2
640 x 480 JPEG 10 fps 40 12.5 sec

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release) until the buffer is full.
*2 There is delay during which the buffer is cleared before you can take another shot or another burst. The screen displays thumbnails of the captured frames on screen during this time.


Although the 2 to 2.3 frames per second is broadly comparable to the A2 (which manages a slightly higher 2.5 fps rate in Continuous High mode, but only 1.8 fps in standard continuous mode), and it's nice to see a slightly larger buffer upping the burst size to five frames. But really... five frames? Anything from 16 to 45 seconds between bursts? We had hoped Konica Minolta would make serious improvements to the continuous shooting capabilities of the A200 after the disappointment of the A2. Sure, there is a slight improvement, but the poor buffering (which only starts writing to the card once the burst has been completed) seriously limits the A200's abilities as a speedy snapper.

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 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CompactFlash card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
1GB Card
3264 x 2448 RAW ~10.0 <0.2 11,856 KB 84 *3
3264 x 2448 X-FINE ~4.1 <0.2 2,950 KB 157
3264 x 2448 FINE ~3.8 <0.2 2,090 KB 250
3264 x 2448 NORMAL ~3.4 <0.2 1,320 KB 488
2560 x 1920 X-FINE ~3.5 <0.2 1,655 KB 254
2080 1560 X-FINE ~3.1 <0.2 1,130 KB 381
1600 x 1200 X-FINE ~3.0 <0.2 772 KB 625

*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.
*3 If you choose the RAW+JPEG option this figure reduces to around 63 shots

As with the A2, the A200 displays saved images incredibly fast, presumably through the use of thumbnails and RAM buffering. This makes scrolling through images very fast.

At around 10 seconds to store a 12MB file, the fastest write speed the A200 can manage is around 1.16 MB/sec. For JPEGs, even if you take the 1.1 seconds or so of processing time out of the equation, this drops to around 980 KB/s - better than the A2 but still a lot slower than most prosumer cameras.

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