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Timings & File Sizes

Overall the DiMAGE X is a quick camera with a very fast startup time (just under 2 seconds), fast operation as well as a sufficiently large internal buffer to avoid having to wait between shots. The only time I suffered a 'wait' was switching from record to play mode with several buffered images still being written to the storage card.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 1600 x 1200 Fine JPEG image (approx. 800 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 64 MB Dane-Elec MMC card.

Action Details Time, seconds
Power: Off to Record Lens cover opening 1.8

Power: Off to Play *1

Image displayed 2.0
Power: Record to Off Lens cover closes 1.8
Power: Play to Off *1   <0.5
Mode: Record to Play Image displayed 1.4
Mode: Play to Record Lens cover already open 1.1
Play: Thumbnail view 6 images 1.9
Play: Image to image 1600 x 1200 FINE 1.9

Action Details Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele Full zoom from 37 mm to 111 mm (3 x) 2.5
Auto Focus LAG Wide angle (37 mm) ~0.8
Auto Focus LAG Telephoto (111 mm) ~1.4
Shutter Release LAG Using viewfinder <0.1
Shutter Release LAG Using LCD monitor 0.1
Total LAG *1 0.9 - 1.5
Off to Shot Taken   2.2
Shot to Shot Zoom at wide angle 2.2

*1 Depending on focus

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.

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.

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.


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. The media used for these tests was a 64 MB Dane-Elec MMC card.

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

Wait before
next shot
*2

Continuous 1600 x 1200 Fine 2.5 fps 9 16.4 sec
Continuous 1600 x 1200 Standard 2.5 fps 21 10.7 sec
Continuous 1280 x 960 Standard 2.5 fps 28 4.7 sec
Continuous 640 x 480 Standard 2.5 fps 93 3.2 sec

*1 In a single "burst", finger held down on shutter release until the camera stops shooting.
*2 You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer, writing continues "in the background".

Kudos to Minolta for not ignoring performance in their mission to produce an ultra compact. In continuous drive mode the DiMAGE X shoots quickly and is able to buffer a large number of images. Indeed its performance in this respect is enough to put other 'prosumer' 2 and 3 megapixel digital cameras to shame.


File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the MMC/SD storage 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 viewfinder stopped blinking. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task".

SD vs. MMC

One thing which became obvious early on was the difference in performance between the supplied Panasonic 8 MB SD card and my 'standard' Dane-Elec 64 MB MMC card. The SD card providing FAR faster write and read performance than the MMC card. SD cards have an extra piece of logic onboard which enables the data written to them to be encrypted with a unique key, data can then only be read back by the device which wrote it. This functionality was developed for portable music players (Secure Digital Music Initiative - SDMI), not digital cameras and the encryption technology in the SD card is NOT used by digital cameras.

The most noticeable difference was found when saving TIFF (Super-Fine) files. Using the X's on-screen "Saving to Card" display (this is only shown when saving TIFF's) it was possible to calculate that the write speed of the MMC card was a disappointing 125 KB/sec but that the SD card managed an impressive (and shockingly different) 910 KB/sec. The difference is less for smaller size files.

The significant performance difference between the card types is of course bad news for buyers, as a 64 MB Panasonic SD card is approximately $100, a 64 MB Sandisk MMC card is approximately $60. I can't recommend anyone buy MMC cards, pay the extra and get the SD variety.

Supplied Panasonic 8 MB SD card

Image Type Time to store
(seconds)
*1
Time to display
(seconds)
File size *2
(approx.)
No. on supplied
8 MB SD Card
*3
1600 x 1200 Super-Fine 8.8 19.8 5,640 KB 1
1600 x 1200 Fine 1.9 0.7 ~700 KB 6
1600 x 1200 Standard 1.5 0.6 ~400 KB 13
1280 x 960 Standard 1.2 0.5 ~280 KB 20
640 x 480 Standard 1.1 0.3 ~90 KB 68

Dane-Elec 64 MB MMC card

Image Type Time to store
(seconds)
*1
Time to display
(seconds)
File size *2
(approx.)
No. on 64 MB
MMC Card
*3
1600 x 1200 Super-Fine 47.5 33.3 5,640 KB 11
1600 x 1200 Fine 6.6 1.2 ~700 KB 65
1600 x 1200 Standard 4.2 1.0 ~400 KB 126
1280 x 960 Standard 3.4 0.8 ~280 KB 195
640 x 480 Standard 1.5 0.7 ~90 KB 652

*1 Timings taken with 'Instant Playback' disabled. With Instant Playback enabled you can add 2.5 seconds to these times.
*2 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.
*3 As estimated by the camera.


Battery life

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

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

Camera
Compact / Ultra compact
Battery Power Battery life Number of shots
Kyocera S3 BP-800S 2.1 Wh 54 mins 95
Canon PowerShot S300 NB-1L 2.5 Wh 1 hr 26 mins 155
Pentax Optio 430 D-LI2 3.3 Wh 1 hr 33 mins 160
Olympus C-40Z 2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 3.6 Wh 1 hr 33 mins 165
Nikon Coolpix 3100 2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 3.6 Wh 1 hr 42 mins 175
Minolta DiMAGE F100 2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 3.3 Wh 1 hr 42 mins 175
Minolta DiMAGE X NP-200 2.8 Wh 1 hr 45 mins 180
Pentax Optio 330 D-LI2 3.3 Wh 1 hr 48 mins 185
Canon PowerShot S330 NB-1LH 2.5 Wh 1 hr 48 mins 185
Sony DSC-P71 2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 3.6 Wh 1 hr 50 mins 185
Kodak DX4900 2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 3.5 Wh 1 hr 51 mins 190
Sony DSC-P5 NP-FC10 2.4 Wh 1 hr 51 mins 190
Nikon Coolpix 3500 EN-EL2 4.1 Wh 1 hr 54 mins 195
Sony DSC-P9 NP-FC10 2.4 Wh 1 hr 59 mins 200
Nikon Coolpix SQ EN-EL2 3.7 Wh 2 hr 03 mins 210
Minolta DiMAGE Xt NP-200 2.8 Wh 2 hr 12 mins 225
Canon PowerShot S400 NP-1LH 2.5 Wh 2 hr 17 mins 230
HP Photosmart 812 2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 3.6 Wh 2 hr 21 mins 240
Nikon Coolpix 885 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 21 mins 240
Nikon Coolpix 775 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 27 mins 250
Canon PowerShot SD100 NB-3L 2.9 Wh 2 hr 29 mins 250
Pentax Optio S D-LI8 2.6 Wh 2 hr 33 mins 260
Nikon Coolpix 2500 EN-EL2 4.1 Wh 2 hr 33 mins 260
Fujifilm FinePix F601Z NP-60 3.7 Wh 2 hr 47 mins 275
Casio EXILIM EX-Z3 NP-20 2.5 Wh 2 hr 48 mins 285
Casio EXILIM EX-S3 NP-20 2.5 Wh 2 hr 48 mins 285
Olympus C-50Z LI-10B 4.0 Wh 2 hr 54 mins 295
HP Photosmart 935 2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 3.6 Wh 3 hr 09 mins 320
Canon PowerShot A70 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 5 hr 08 mins 515
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

A good performance considering the compact size of the DiMAGE X's Lithium-Ion battery. Lasting almost two hours in our torture test and racking up no less than 180 shots, it was just shy of Pentax's Optio 330 which has a larger capacity battery.

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