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Timings & File Sizes

All in all the DiMAGE 7 is relatively fast, it performed in most areas very similarly to Nikon's Coolpix 995 or Canon's G1. Because of its use of a fairly large buffer the camera is able to return control to the photographer while still writing the last image(s) to the Compact Flash card (except for RAW and TIFF images where the camera blanks the LCD / EVF and you must wait until the whole file is flushed). Playback is also speedy, the D7 appears to implement a thumbnail image in the file header, browsing through images in play mode is virtually instant. The D7 is probably only let down by its occasionally temperamental auto focus system (especially at telephoto focal lengths).

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2560 x 1920 FINE JPEG image (approx. 2.0 MB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 16 MB Lexar Type I Compact Flash card (as supplied in European Kit)
  • 320 MB Lexar Pro 12x Type I Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card
Legend for CF card timings
  Noticeably quicker
  Noticeably slower

Action Details Time, seconds
(Supplied CF)
Time, seconds
(Lexar 12x CF)
Time, seconds
(Microdrive)
Power: Off to Record   3.6 4.0 3.1 / 6.1 *6
Power: Off to Play *1 Accessing n/a n/a 3.1
Power: Off to Play *1 Displayed 3.6 3.8 6.4
Power: Record to Off *2   3.4 3.3 3.2
Power: Play to Off   3.2 3.3 3.1
Mode: Record to Play   2.3 2.4 3.5
Mode: Play to Record   1.8 1.8 1.8
Play: Magnify to x2.0   4.1 4.0 4.9
Rec: Thumbnail view 3 x 3   0.8 0.6 0.8

Action Details Time, seconds
(average)
Auto Focus LAG *3 Full wide angle (28mm equiv.) 1.2
Auto Focus LAG *3 Full telephoto (200mm equiv.) 2.5
Auto Focus LAG *3 Full telephoto Macro (200mm equiv.) 3.7
Shutter Release LAG *4 Using LCD monitor / EVF 0.1
Total LAG *5 Lens @ 50mm equiv. 1.0 - 4.5
Off to Shot Taken Media: Supplied 16 MB Lexar CF card 5.6
Off to Shot Taken *6 Media: 1 GB IBM Microdrive 8.1
Shot to Shot Instant playback enabled 2.6
Shot to Shot Instant playback disabled 2.0

*1 First timing is the time (from OFF) before "Accessing files..." is shown the LCD. Second timing is the time (from OFF) before the first image is displayed.
*2 No images remaining in internal buffer. Timer is stopped when top LCD display disappears.
*3 Auto Focus LAG is (roughly) the amount of time it takes the camera to autofocus (a half-press and hold of the shutter release button), this timing is normally the most variable as its affected by the subject matter, current focus position, still or moving subject etc.This timing is an average.
*4 Shutter Release LAG is the amount of time it takes to take the shot after autofocus, this timing assumes you have already focused (half-pressed the shutter release) and now press the shutter release button all the way down to take the shot. This timing is an average.
*5 Total LAG is the total time it takes (not just the two above added together) if you haven't pre-focused, that is no finger touching the shutter release button, press it all the way down in one movement, this new timing is how long it'd take if you were in one of those spur-of-the-moment situations.This timing is an average.
*6 When you power on with a Microdrive inserted the camera displays 'No Card' for approximately 3.4 seconds, during this time you can not take a shot.

The AF system did feel slower than the timings above reveal, certainly on occasions it was quite fast (with a good contrast target in good light), however there were occasions where it would simply refuse to lock, especially at telephoto focal lengths and with targets which were less than optimum. The D7's AF system hunted more than I've been used to in recent times (digital camera AF systems HAVE got better), indeed sometimes it would hunt even if you had already taken a shot of the same subject. In some situations it would show the white dot indicating a good focus when it was in fact well out of focus.


Continuous modes

The table below shows 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.

Image Type Frames per sec Max no. of frames *1

Wait before
next shot
*2

2560 x 1920 RAW - 1 -
2560 x 1920 FINE 1.2 fps 5 8.1 secs
2560 x 1920 STANDARD 1.2 fps 9 3.2 secs
2560 x 1920 ECONOMY 1.2 fps 16 1.9 secs
1600 x 1200 STANDARD 1.2 fps 25 1.4 secs
1280 x 960 STANDARD 1.2 fps 45 1.5 secs

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release), exact number of frames may vary depending on size of JPEG file (detail in the image).
*2 You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background").

As we can see the actual frame rate is limited by the speed at which the camera can retrieve the five million pixels from the CCD, the number of frames is limited by the final image size. Frame rates are slightly disappointing, most people would expect at least 2 frames per second of a digital camera at this level and price point. That said you can take nine x 5 megapixel frames at standard JPEG compression in one burst and taken another shot less than 3.5 seconds later.

Continuous mode Flush Timing

The timings above represent the speed of the camera and its internal buffer, however the speed of the Compact Flash card will also have an impact on shooting continuously, it defines how long we must wait before the ENTIRE "burst" of frames are written away to the card (flushed).

Image Type No. images Time, seconds
(Supplied CF)
Time, seconds
(Lexar 12x CF)
Time, seconds
(Microdrive)
2560 x 1920 STANDARD 9 27.0 31.0 21.0

Biggest surprise here is the Microdrive which finishes flushing a whole ten seconds before Lexar's Pro 12x Compact Flash card.


File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the Compact Flash card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed (shutter click was heard) and stopped when activity indicator LED beside the storage compartment went 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 were:

  • 16 MB Lexar Type I Compact Flash card (as supplied in European Kit)
  • 320 MB Lexar Pro 12x Type I Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card
Image Type Time to store *1
(seconds)
Supplied Lexar 12x Microdrive
2560 x 1920 S.FINE TIFF 44.0 46.0 32.2
2560 x 1920 RAW 30.0 32.2 24.8
2560 x 1920 FINE 9.8 10.6 9.7
2560 x 1920 STANDARD 7.0 7.5 7.7
2560 x 1920 ECONOMY 6.2 6.1 7.0
1600 x 1200 FINE 6.4 7.1 7.8
1280 x 960 FINE 6.1 6.2 7.8
640 x 480 FINE 5.1 5.1 6.5

*1 This is the amount of time it takes to write a single image away, it is taken from the moment of shutter release to the activity indicator LED beside the storage compartment going out. RAW and TIFF modes both blank the LCD/EVF during this time and no more shots can be taken until this time has elapsed.


File Sizes

Here's a comparison of the average byte size of each of different image size / quality combinations.

Image Size Quality Image format File size
(~ = approx)
No. on supplied 16 MB CF Card No. on
1 GB Microdrive
2560 x 1920 S. FINE TIFF 14,438 KB 1 72
2560 x 1920 RAW MRW 9,704 KB 1 107
2560 x 1920 FINE JPEG ~1,900 KB 7 520
2560 x 1920 STANDARD JPEG ~900 KB 14 994
2560 x 1920 ECONOMY JPEG ~530 KB 21 1,491
1600 x 1200 FINE JPEG ~780 KB 17 1,207
1280 x 960 FINE JPEG ~500 KB 27 1,917
640 x 480 FINE JPEG ~190 KB 76 5,396

* 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 (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.


Battery life

In real life use it became obvious that the DiMAGE 7 is a bit of a power monster. Indeed, in one session it managed to chomp through my favourite set of 1600 mAh GP NiMH's in under an hour (and only 60 shots taken). When handling the camera it's obvious that quite a bit of this is being wasted in the heat generated.

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
  • Repeat

All batteries had been fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:

Camera
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

As you can see in our lab test the DiMAGE 7 managed to flatten a set of four AA 1600 mAh NiMH's in an hour and a quarter (or just an hour and six minutes with a Microdrive). This is a pretty poor performance for a modern day prosumer digital camera, and especially one which requires you carry spare batteries in sets of four. Compare this to the Nikon Coolpix 990 which lasted twice as long on the very same batteries. There's almost no comparison to the Canon PowerShot G1 and both Sony's.

With a 1 GB IBM Microdrive battery life was down to 1 hr 6 mins, 115 shots (approx. 10% less)

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