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Timings & File Sizes

The E-520 is a pleasantly unobtrusive camera to use - you rarely find yourself waiting for it. Its focus seems pretty quick (if occasionally a little erratic) in phase detect mode - contrast detect is best avoided if your subject is likely to move - and shutter lag is unnoticeable. Continuous shooting is impressive, given the camera's price, and media write times are generally quick. There's the delay at startup while waiting for the compulsory sensor clean some people will never notice, while others will be frustrated, so it's worth trying the camera to work out which group you fall in with. There is also a delay introduced when using live view (see the differences in the second table below).

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3648 x 2736 JPEG F (approx. 4,800 KB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 4 GB SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition CF card
  • 2 GB Lexar Pro 133x CF card

Media comparison

Action
Time, secs
(2 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Power Off to On *1 0.9 1.2
Power Off to Shot 0.5 1.5
Sleep to On 0.5 0.5
Power On to Off *3 0.7 0.7
Record Review RAW *2 0.9 0.9
Record Review JPEG *2 0.9 0.9
Play RAW 0.2 0.2
Play JPEG 0.2 0.2
Play Image to Image RAW 0.1 0.1
Play Image to Image JPEG 0.1 0.1
Play Image to Image RAW + JPEG 0.1 0.1

Live view off/on (4 GB SanDisk Extreme IV)

As you can see enabling live view adds between a half to one second to most operations, this is primarily due to the time it takes the camera to raise the mirror, open the shutter and initialize the sensor for live view.

Action
Time, secs
(Live view off)
Time, secs
(Live view on)
Power Off to On *1 0.9 1.4
Power Off to Shot 0.5 2.0
Sleep to On 0.5 1.4
Power On to Off 0.7 1.3
Record Review RAW *2 0.9 1.7
Record Review JPEG *2 0.9 1.7
Play RAW 0.2 0.8
Play JPEG 0.2 0.8

*1 This is the amount of time before the status screen is shown on the LCD monitor, as shown by the next measurement you can actually take a shot fractionally earlier than this.
*2 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*3 The E-520 runs a sensor-clean at power-off. Timing is taken until no further sound is made.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/400 sec, F4.0), ISO 200. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above. (Note that we also tested with Noise Reduction on/off without any difference in performance).

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held after burst (buffer full)

Burst of JPEG Fine images

Timing
4 GB SanDisk
Ducati
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x
Frame rate (average) 3.3 fps 3.3 fps
Number of frames - -
Buffer full rate - -

Burst of JPEG Super Fine images

Timing
4 GB SanDisk
Ducati
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x
Frame rate (average) 3.3 fps 3.3 fps
Number of frames 28 21
Buffer full rate 2.7 fps 2.6 fps

Burst of RAW images

Timing
4 GB SanDisk
Ducati
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x
Frame rate (average) 3.3 fps 3.3 fps
Number of frames 10 9
Buffer full rate 1.5 fps 1.4 fps

The E-520 never quite manages the claimed 3.5 frames per second but it's still faster than most other cameras in its class. With a fast card such as the SanDisk Extreme IV you can shoot fine JPEGs until you run out of space. Shooting with an xD Picture Card instead of Compact Flash will reduce the number of images in one burst and slow you down after the buffer is full.

File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. Timing was taken from the instant the shutter release was pressed to the time the storage card activity lamp beside the compartment door went out. Media used were the same as above.

Image type
Time, secs
(2 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Approx.
size
3648 x 2736 RAW + F 2.3 2.3 14,500 KB *1
3648 x 2736 RAW 1.5 1.5 9,800 KB
3648 x 2736 JPEG SF 1.5 1.6 6,400 KB
3648 x 2736 JPEG F 1.3 1.3 4,800 KB

*1 File size reported here is the size of the RAW and F quality JPEG files added together.

The E-520 delivers relatively fast write times with high performance cards such as the SanDisk Extreme IV or Lexar Pro. This means the camera is managing to throw over 6MB of data per second to a memory card, which is pretty impressive, all told.

USB transfer speed

To test the E-520's USB transfer speed we transferred approximately 128 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a SanDisk Extreme IV 2 GB CF card.

Method
Transfer rate
Olympus E-520 (MTP device mode) 3.7 MB/sec
Olympus E-520 (Mass storage device mode) 4.7 MB/sec
CardBus PCMCIA adapter 10.5 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme IV USB 2.0 card reader 13.3 MB/sec

As is usually the case, the E-520 is at its fastest in Mass Storage mode and unpleasantly slow in MTP mode. Either way, it's much faster (and easier on batteries), to use a dedicated card reader. Especially if you're working with weighty files, such as RAW or 'Super Fine' quality JPEGs.

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