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Timings & File Sizes

The SD9 behaved very much like a traditional film SLR, by this I mean that there is almost no startup delay and that as long as there is space in the buffer the digital side of the camera never interferes with your ability to take the next shot. Continuous shooting speed wasn't as good as some of the competition, neither was Compact Flash write speed. Overall however the SD9 hardly ever left us waiting and responded well to that instant moment.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2268 x 1512 HI X3F image (approx. 7.0 MB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 512 MB SimpleTech Type I Compact Flash card
  • 512 MB Lexar 24x Pro Type I Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card
Action Details Time, seconds
(SimpleTech CF)
Time, seconds
(Lexar 24x CF)
Time, seconds
(Microdrive)
Power: Off to On *1   <0.1 <0.1 2.5
Power: On to Off *2   <0.1 <0.1 <0.1
Record: Preview *3   2.2 2.1 2.2
Record: View   1.1 1.1 1.1
Play: Image to Image *4   <0.1 <0.1 <0.5
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3   0.9 0.9 2.2
Play: Magnify mode   <0.1 <0.1 <0.1
Shot to shot Single drive 0.5 0.5 0.5

*1 The photographic portion of the camera comes on almost instantly but you can not take a shot until the camera has checked the CF card and displayed the number of remaining frames. This timing is the time from turning on the camera to the number of remaining frames being displayed.
*2 Assuming all buffered images have been written out to storage card, otherwise camera will remain on until images have been written away ('CF' will be shown on top status panel).
*3 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*4

This is the amount of time between each image, as you can see it is virtually instant (with or without histogram).


Continuous drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/350s, F3.5), ISO 100. Here is a brief description of each measurement made:

  • Frames per second - The number of frames shot in one second (average)
  • Number of frames - How many shots can be taken before the buffer fills
  • Next shot - How soon after a burst of shots you can take the next shot
  • Full write - How long a burst of shots takes to be processed and written to the CF

The media used for these tests was a 512 MB SimpleTech Type I Compact Flash card.

Image size Frames per second Number of frames Next shot *1 Full write *1
2268 x 1512 (HI) 1.9 fps 6 9.2 sec 58 sec
1512 x 1008 (MED) 2.2 fps 14 6.5 sec 1 min 29 sec
1134 x 756 (LOW) 2.7 fps 30 5.7 sec 2 min 31 sec

*1 This is dependent on the speed of the CF card and size of the image (higher ISO = more noise = larger JPEG size), although these timings should be fairly typical.

The SD9 manages just under 2 frames per second at full resolution, this is noticeably slower than other digital SLR's, most of which manage at least 3 frames per second.


File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage media. The SD9 continues to process images in the buffer and write data out to the storage media in parallel to you composing (and taking) the next shot. Unlike some other digital SLR's you can continue to modify settings and enter the menu while images are being flushed from the buffer.

The media used for these tests were:

  • 512 MB SimpleTech Type I Compact Flash card
  • 512 MB Lexar 16x Pro Type I Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card
Image size Time, secs
(SimpleTech)
Time, secs
(Lexar 24x)
Time, secs
(Microdrive)
Approx.
File size
Approx. 512 MB card
2268 x 1512 (HI) 9.8 9.8 9.5 7,700 KB 77
1512 x 1008 (MED) 6.8 6.8 6.9 4,500 KB 115
1134 x 756 (LOW) 5.3 5.3 5.4 2,600 KB 224

*1 Timer was started as soon as the storage compartment light came on and stopped when this light went off. This was seen as the actual recording time.

Because of it's "RAW only" philosophy the SD9 will have longer write times than a camera with internal JPEG. And unfortunately it looks as though the SD9's Compact Flash interface / processing (lossless compression) isn't as efficient as some other digital SLR's. From shot taken to finished writing equates to approximately 786 KB/sec, the EOS-D60 writes its RAW files at over 1 MB/sec.


Battery life

Battery life appears to be very good. We used the SD9 exclusively with NiMH AA batteries and got long life except on one very odd occasion when outside temperatures were very low. The ability to take either AA's or CR-3V Lithium's could be useful if you're out and about without a charged set of AA's. However, from a size, weight and simplicity point of view I would like to have seen Sigma using a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery pack.

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