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Timings & File Sizes

We found the A200's overall performance to be just a tad slower than some of its direct competitors and most notably record review is a little sluggish. It also takes longer than average to take your first shot after switching the camera on (on some competitor's cameras you can take your first shot almost instantly). If this will or will not have an impact on your shooting you'll have to decide for yourself. In all other areas the differences are really marginal and are arguably not relevant to most people.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3872 x 2592 JPEG Fine (approx. 2,500 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
(4 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(8 GB Lexar)
Power Off to On *1 1.1 1.1
Power Off to Shot 0.7 0.7
Sleep to On 0.5 0.5
Power On to Off *2 2.1 2.1
Record Review RAW *3 1.9 1.9
Record Review JPEG *3 1.8 1.8
Play RAW <0.3 <0.3
Play JPEG <0.3 <0.3
Play Image to Image RAW <0.2 <0.2
Play Image to Image JPEG <0.2 <0.2

*1 Time taken from the power switch being turned to the ON position and display appearing on the main LCD.
*2 Time taken for the camera to completely power down, it first carries out a 'sensor shake' clean and then continues to access the storage card for just over a second.
*3 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor. These increase substantially, depending on settings.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous drive mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, ISO 100, Shutter Priority (1/640 sec). 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 of burst
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst (until buffer full)
  • Buffer full rate - Average frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
  • Write complete - How long after the last shot before the CF compartment light goes out

Burst of JPEG Large/Fine images

Timing
4 GB SanDisk
Extreme IV CF
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x CF
Frame rate 2.8 fps 2.8 fps
Number of frames Unlimited Unlimited
Buffer full rate - -
Write complete - -

Burst of RAW images

Timing
4 GB SanDisk
Extreme IV CF
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x CF
Frame rate 2.8 fps 2.8 fps
Number of frames 7 7
Buffer full rate ~2.2 fps ~2.2 fps
Write complete ~3.0 sec ~3.0 sec

Burst of RAW+JPEG Large/Fine images

Timing
4 GB SanDisk
Extreme IV CF
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x CF
Frame rate 2.8 fps 2.8 fps
Number of frames 3 3
Buffer full rate ~1.3 fps* ~1.3 fps*
Write complete ~3.2 sec ~3.2 sec

Sony states the A200's continuous shooting speed as 3 ps which pretty much on par with the camera's peers. In our tests the A200 performed slightly slower though and delivered 2.8 fps. On the plus side were able to shoot seven frames in a RAW burst while according to Sony it should only be six.

*There is an approximately 1 sec pause after the initial burst before the camera resumes shooting at the slower rate.

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
(4 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Approx.
size
4272 x 2848 RAW + JPEG 2.7 2.7 13,500 KB
4272 x 2848 RAW 2.0 2.2 11,500 KB
4272 x 2848 JPEG Fine 1.8 1.9 2,700 KB

As you can see there's hardly a performance differential between the SanDisk Extreme IV Ducati and the Lexar Pro 133x. Again these figures are average for an entry-level camera.

USB transfer speed

To test the DSLR-A200's USB transfer speed we transferred approximately 200 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a SanDisk Extreme IV Ducati Edition 4 GB CF card.

Method
Transfer rate
SanDisk Extreme USB 2.0 card reader 13.0 MB/sec
Sony DSLR-A200 (PTP device) 1.2 MB/sec
Sony DSLR-A200 (Mass storage device) 7.4 MB/sec

In mass storage mode, the Sony A700 featured the fastest data transfer rate we'd seen at that time. It's fair to say that the A200 (and the A350) isn't built around the same architecture. Its 7.4 MB/sec transfer rate in mass storage mode is good but not even close to the A700's very quick 21.6 MB/sec and is slow enough to make it worth buying a decent card reader.

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