Previous page Next page

Timings & File Sizes

The DMC-L1's overall performance was a mixed bag; positive are fairly good SD card write speed, good continuous shooting in JPEG mode and fast record review. On the negative side startup isn't instant (although not as slow as we have seen) and play mode can feel sluggish, especially image to image times, which is a pity because most digital photographers spend some of their time in playback. As detailed in our 'displays' section Live View introduces its own delays, primarily because to perform Auto Focus the camera has to drop the mirror, exposing the AF sensor and then raise it again to restore the live view (and there's a similar click/clack/clunk/click when you actually take the shot).

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3136 x 2352 JPEG *** (approx. 3,200 KB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 2 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card
  • 2 GB Lexar Pro 133x SD card
Action
Details
Time, secs
(2 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Power Off to On *1   1.1 1.1
Power Off to Shot   1.0 1.0
Sleep to On *2   1.0 1.0
Power On to Off   1.9 1.9
Record Review *3
RAW+JPEG
0.9 / 1.2 0.9 / 1.2
Record Review *3
JPEG
0.9 / 1.2 0.9 / 1.2
Play
RAW+JPEG
1.2 / 1.5 1.2 / 1.5
Play
JPEG
1.2 / 1.5 1.2 / 1.5
Play Image to Image
RAW+JPEG
1.1 1.1
Play Image to Image
JPEG
1.1 1.1

*1 This is the time from power on to the recording information display being shown on the LCD monitor.
*2 Upon wake from sleep the DMC-L1 defaults to Viewfinder mode, even if Live View mode had been used when the camera went into power save.
*3 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor. First figure is in Viewfinder mode, second in Live View mode (a 0.3 second penalty).
*4 First figure is in Viewfinder mode, second in Live View mode (a 0.3 second penalty).

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/320 sec, F5.6), ISO 200. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above.

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

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was always 2.9 fps (+/- 0.05 fps)
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held after burst (buffer full)
  • Next burst - How soon after the burst it is fully written to the card (indicator goes out)

Burst of JPEG Large/*** images

Timing
2 GB SanDisk
Extreme III SD
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x SD
Frame rate (average) 2.9 fps 2.9 fps
Number of frames 22 28
Buffer full rate 1.9 fps 2.1 fps
Next burst - -

Burst of RAW+JPEG Large/*** images

Timing
2 GB SanDisk
Extreme III SD
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x SD
Frame rate (average) 2.9 fps 2.9 fps
Number of frames 6 6
Buffer full rate 2 frames every 5.8 sec 2 frames every 5.2 sec
Next burst 16.5 sec 16.3 sec

In JPEG mode the DMC-L1 performs surprisingly well, managing almost three frames per second for the initial burst of 20+ images then dropping to around two frames per second continuously until the card is full (assuming a fairly fast card). In RAW+JPEG mode (there isn't a 'RAW only' mode) the camera manages just six frames before you will have to release and re-press the shutter release to get another couple of frames around six seconds later (and so on until the card is full), frankly I doubt this will be much of an issue as very few people use RAW mode when shooting continuously.

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 indicator on the LCD monitor disappears (note that this is unlikely to be as accurate as an LED lamp). Media used were the same as above.

Image type
Time, secs
(2 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Approx.
size
3136 x 2352 RAW + JPEG *** 3.7 3.7 17,900 KB *1
3136 x 2352 JPEG *** 1.5 1.5 3,200 KB
3136 x 2352 JPEG ** 1.5 1.5 2,400 KB

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

It's fair to say that the DMC-L1 has respectably short write times and good throughput to fast SD cards. Unfortunately due to its lack of an LED lamp to indicate SD card activity we could not be confident enough to actually measure write speed, for RAW+JPEG at least we can estimate around 4.5 MB/sec. Panasonic's recently released 1.1 firmware now allows the full buffering of RAW files allowing you to continue shooting even if a RAW file is being written in the background (version 1.0 firmware locked the camera while writing a RAW).

USB transfer speed

To test the L1's USB transfer speed we transferred approximately 128 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a SanDisk Extreme III 2 GB SD card.

Method
Transfer rate
Panasonic DMC-L1 (PTP device) * 1.7 MB/sec
Panasonic DMC-L1 (Mass storage device) 3.8 MB/sec
Sony built-in SD card reader (Vaio TX) 6.7 MB/sec
Panasonic CardBus PCMCIA adapter 10.7 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme IV USB 2.0 card reader 10.9 MB/sec

* Remarkably in PTP mode none of the RAW files on the SD card appeared or could be copied.

In normal 'mass storage device' mode the DMC-L1 performed relatively well, at around four megabytes a second, switch to PTP mode though and you'd better hope you haven't got a card full of images (or any RAW files). The best performance was posted by a CardBus adapter and the new SanDisk Extreme IV USB 2.0 card reader.

Previous page Next page

Comments