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Timing & Performance

One of the main advantages claimed by Sony for its Real Imaging Processor is that it speeds up virtually all aspects of a camera's operation, and our tests show that the claim is reflected in the real world performance of the F88. It's not the fastest camera on the planet, but it is better than most in its class. Particularly impressive are the figures for power up/power down, switching modes, viewing saved images and writing files to the Memory Stick. Focus is fast (especially if you turn on the monitor / continuous AF), shutter lag very short and overall the F88 feels fast and responsive in use. The only slightly disappointing aspect is the flash performance, specifically the 6 seconds or so it takes to fully recharge. Now this is not abnormally high (though it's at the longer end for this type of camera), and it's a huge improvement on early Cyber-shots, but it is a pity given the impressive performance of virtually every other aspect of the F88.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,100 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 512MB Sandisk Ultra II Memory Stick PRO.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record   1.5
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 2.4
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 0.0
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty 0.0
Record Review Image displayed 0.9
Mode: Record to Play   ~0.4
Mode: Play to Record   ~0.5
Play: Magnify To full magnification (5x) ~0.5
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image ~0.2
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails ~0.5

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 38 to 114 mm (10 x) full speed 2.2
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle ~0.7
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~0.8
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view 0.17
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder 0.15
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.5
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view 1.9
Shot to Shot Flash off 4.0
Shot to Shot Flash on 6.0

Lag Timing Definitions

Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
 

(Prime AF/AE)
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
 

(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
 

(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)

Continuous mode

The tables below show 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. Media used for these tests was a 512MB Sandisk Ultra II Memory Stick PRO card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

In burst mode the F88 shows a brief review image for each frame taken. There is a 'Multi-Burst' mode that takes 16 shots (at 1280 x 960 resolution) in just under half a second (we measured it at around 35 fps, just out of interest).

Image Type
Mode
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
After
burst
*2
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine Burst 1.1 fps 9 stalls for ~8 secs
2592 x 1944 JPEG Standard Burst 1.1 fps 15 stalls for ~8 secs
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine Burst 1.1 fps 13 stalls for ~7 secs
1280 x 960 JPEG Fine Burst 1.1 fps 32 stalls for ~6 secs

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).
*2 This is how long you have to wait before you can take another shot

Given the generally impressive speed of the F88, the continuous mode operation is slightly underwhelming. 1.1 frames per second is well below the 1.6 fps Sony quotes in its literature, and this is using a fast card, and the buffer cannot clear quickly enough to allow you to keep shooting at all once it is full, meaning a wait of around 6 to 8 seconds between bursts. Then again, this is hardly the kind of camera you are likely to use to shoot endless bursts at high speed, and if you don't fill the buffer (shooting bursts of three or four 5MP/Fine JPEGS at a time) you'll never actually experience the wait whilst the buffer empties.

File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 512MB Sandisk Ultra II Memory Stick PRO.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
512MB Card
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine 2.8 ~0.8 2,088 KB 194
2592 x 1944 JPEG Standard 2.8 ~0.8 1,270 KB 365
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 2.8 ~0.8 1,381 KB 311
1280 x 960 JPEG Fine 2.8 ~0.8 617 KB 748

*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 (detail and noise).
*3 Camera estimation.

With write times averaging around 2.8 seconds for a 5MP Fine JPEG the F88 is no slouch, though the transfer rate - approximately 745KB/s - is hardly stretching the capabilities of the Sandisk card (quoted write speed: 9MB/s).

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