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Timing & Performance

Sony did it, the DSC-V3 was clearly the fastest of our 7mp group test. Downsides, it's startup time isn't anything to write home about (three seconds can seem like a lifetime) however all is forgiven when you start using the camera. Auto Focus feels and really is very quick, especially in good light, the V3 just locks and is ready before you need to start worrying about it. Combine that with a sub 1/10 sec (we couldn't measure it) shutter lag and you've got a camera which can snap pictures very quickly indeed. Just as important are shot to shot times and the V3 also excels here, just over one second between each shot (if you pump the shutter release) means you never feel as though you're waiting for the camera, it just responds. The V3's continuous shooting was mixed, fairly good buffer at the slower speed, limited buffer at higher speed but the camera locks up until the burst is written (which is a pity).

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3072 x 2304 Fine JPEG image (approx. 3,000 KB per image).

Media used for these tests

  • 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Memory Stick
  • 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
  • 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
Action Details
SanDisk MS
Time, secs
SanDisk CF
Time, secs
Lexar CF
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record Live view appears 3.1 3.2 3.0
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 2.5 2.5 2.5
Power: Record to Off   3.9 3.9 3.9
Power: Play to Off Lens retracted <0.2 <0.2 <0.2
Mode: Record to Play Image displayed <0.2 <0.2 <0.2
Mode: Play to Record Lens extended <0.2 <0.2 <0.2
Mode: Play to Record Lens retracted *1 2.8 2.8 2.8
Play: Magnify To 5x magnification 3.1 3.1 3.1
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 0.8 0.8 0.8

Action
 
Details
Time, secs
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle (Auto AF area) *2 0.3 - 0.9
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto (Auto AF area) *2 0.6 - 1.5
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder <0.1
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD Monitor <0.1
Full-press Lag (0->S2) Wide angle (Auto AF Area) 0.3
Off to Shot Taken Wide angle (Auto AF Area) 3.1
Shot to Shot Record review On (Auto Review) 1.1
Shot to Shot Record review Off 1.1

*1 The lens automatically retracts after sixteen seconds in Play mode.
*2 Using Center AF area slows AF by just under a tenth of a second (0.1 sec).

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. Note that continuous shooting modes are not available for RAW image format. Media used for these tests was a 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/250 sec during these tests.

Continuous Burst mode

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in one burst

Delay before
next shot

3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine 1.0 fps 15 16.2 sec
3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard 1.0 fps 28 18.3 sec
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 1.0 fps 31 16.3 sec

Continuous Speed Burst mode

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in one burst

Delay before
next shot

3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine 2.5 fps 8 11.9 sec
3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard 2.5 fps 8 10.5 sec
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 2.5 fps 8 9.3 sec

In Burst mode the V3 delivers a fairly average performance, just one frame per second but with a relatively large buffer. In Speed Burst things improve as the camera is capable of capturing 2.5 fps however there is that eight frame hard limit which means you'll be shooting for just over three seconds before the camera makes you wait. Unlike some other digital cameras the V3 locks up until the entire burst has been written.

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 beside the media slots had gone out. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". It's worth noting that you can't shoot 'just RAW' the V3 always writes a JPEG along with the RAW (.SRF) file hence the timings below are for 'RAW + JPEG'. You can modify the size / quality of the JPEG, in our tests we kept it as 7 MP Fine.

Media used for these tests

  • 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Memory Stick
  • 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
  • 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
Image Type Time to write, secs *1 Time to display, secs
SanDisk
MS
SanDisk
CF
Lexar
CF
SanDisk
MS
SanDisk
CF
Lexar
CF
3072 x 2304 RAW + JPEG Fine 11.6 13.5 13.5 <0.2 <0.2 <0.2
3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine 2.0 2.4 2.3 <0.2 <0.2 <0.2
3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard 1.7 1.9 1.9 <0.2 <0.2 <0.2
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 1.4 1.8 1.7 <0.2 <0.2 <0.2

*1 As with most digital cameras there is a delay before the actual media write begins, the timings above include this delay (as they're taken from the shutter release). For JPEG images this appears to be around 1.1 sec, for RAW around 7.3 sec. Hence you must subtract this from the figures above to get the actual media write time.

File sizes

Image Type File size
(approx.)
Images on a
1 GB Card
3072 x 2304 RAW + JPEG Fine 17,800 KB 54
3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine 3,000 KB 296
3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard 1,500 KB 582
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 1,300 KB 1165

The figures above don't tell the whole story, when shooting JPEG the DSC-V3 actually returns to it's live view as quickly as 0.8 seconds after shutter release, writing continues in the background. This isn't true for RAW files however which lock the camera during the write process. Overall the DSC-V3 put in a very impressive processing and media throughput performance, if we subtract the processing time the V3 managed between 3 and 4 MB/sec with the Memory Stick and 2.3 to 2.8 MB/sec with the CF cards. This is noteworthy as it's considerably faster than most compact digital cameras and even some digital SLR's.

Low Light Auto Focus

This test is designed to measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.

Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).

Focal length
Aperture
at focal len.
AF Assist Lamp
Lowest light focus
Wide (34 mm equiv.) F2.8 On Complete Darkness
Wide (34 mm equiv.) F2.8 Off -0.2 EV
Tele (136 mm equiv.) F4.0 On Complete Darkness
Tele (136 mm equiv.) F4.0 Off 1.1 EV
Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)

The V3's unique-to-Sony laser 'Hologram AF' assist system paints the subject with a pattern which the AF system can lock on to. This works well for fairly large subjects (such as people, walls, tables, our test chart), and in our test as expected the camera locked fairly easily in complete darkness. Without Hologram AF it still managed to perform quite well, especially at wide angle where it got a reliable, repeatable focus lock in quite dim conditions.

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
Prosumer / SLR-Like
Battery Power Battery life Number of shots
Minolta DiMAGE 7 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 1 hr 14 mins 125
Minolta DiMAGE 5 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 1 hr 56 mins 195
Nikon Coolpix 5700 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 08 mins 215
Canon PowerShot S40 NB-2L 3.9 Wh 2 hr 13 mins 225
Minolta DiMAGE S304 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 18 mins 235
Canon PowerShot S45 NB-2L 3.9 Wh 2 hr 28 mins 240
Nikon Coolpix 4500 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 27 mins 250
Fujifilm FinePix 6900Z NP-80 4.1 Wh 2 hr 29 mins 250
Nikon Coolpix 990 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 30 mins 255
Nikon Coolpix 995 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 30 mins 255
Nikon Coolpix 5000 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 32 mins 260
Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 33 mins 260
Canon PowerShot Pro1 BP-511A 10.2 Wh 2 hr 36 mins 265
Canon PowerShot S50 NB-2L 3.9 Wh 2 hr 39 mins 270
Minolta DiMAGE S404 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 39 mins 270
Sony DSC-V1 NP-FC11 2.8 Wh 2 hr 39 mins 270
Olympus C-7000 Zoom LI-12B 4.5 Wh 2 hr 44 mins 280
Nikon Coolpix 8700 EN-EL1 5.0 Wh 2 hr 45 mins 280
Minolta DiMAGE 7i 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 46 mins 270
Olympus E-20 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 48 mins 285
Canon PowerShot G1 BP-511 8.1 Wh 3 hr 00 mins 300
Nikon Coolpix 5400 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 3 hr 06 mins 315
HP Photosmart 850 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 3 hr 12 mins 325
Sony DSC-S75 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 3 hr 15 mins 330
Nikon Coolpix 8800 EN-EL7 8.1 Wh 3 hr 27 mins 350
Fujifilm FinePix S602Z 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 3 hr 29 mins 350
Canon PowerShot G2 BP-511 8.1 Wh 3 hr 32 mins 355
Casio QV-4000 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 3 hr 38 mins 365
Olympus C-5050 Zoom 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 3 hr 48 mins 380
Casio EXILIM EX-P700 NP-40 4.5 Wh 3 hr 48 mins 385
Sony DSC-S85 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 3 hr 50 mins 400
Sony DSC-F717 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 4 hr 02 mins 405
Pentax Optio 750Z D-LI7 6.6 Wh 4 hr 03 mins 415
Sony DSC-V3 NP-FR1 4.4 Wh 4 hr 05 mins 415
Nikon Coolpix 8400 EN-EL7 8.1 Wh 4 hr 09 mins 420
Sony DSC-F707 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 4 hr 20 mins 440
Fujifilm S7000 Zoom 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 4 hr 23 mins 445
Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2 NP-400 11.1 Wh 4 hr 26 mins 450
Canon PowerShot G3 BP-511 8.1 Wh 4 hr 32 mins 455
Canon PowerShot G5 BP-511 8.1 Wh 4 hr 33 mins 460
Pentax Optio 550 D-LI7 6.6 Wh 4 hr 36 mins 465
Minolta DiMAGE A1 NP-400 11.1 Wh 5 hr 02 mins 515
Leica Digilux 2 BP-DC1-E 10.1 Wh 5 hr 05 mins 515
Sony DSC-F828 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 5 hr 28 mins 540
Fujifilm FinePix S5000 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 5 hr 31 mins 555
Canon PowerShot G6 BP-511A 10.3 Wh 5 hr 38 mins 570
Olympus C-8080 WZ BLM-1 10.8 Wh 5 hr 52 mins 595
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

The DSC-V3's 4.4 Wh Lithium-Ion battery as enough for the DSC-V3 to last just over four hours, that's an impressive performance and works out about fifteen minutes longer than the Casio EX-P700 which has a similar capacity battery.

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