Timings & File Sizes

As you may expect coming from the EOS-1D and considering that this is Canon's new top of the line digital sports SLR the Mark II is fast. Most functions such as image review or switching into play mode take no more than a second, image browsing is fast (especially once the camera has cached an image) and menus pop onto the display very quickly. The most impressive performance however comes from this camera's continuous shooting and card write capability. As we know the Mark II can shoot at around 8.3 frames per second and has a buffer large enough to hold 40 JPEG frames, its CF and SD throughput are fully optimized to ensure that these buffered images are written away as quickly as possible, most interesting however in our tests was how much faster our SanDisk Ultra II SD card was compared to the equivelant CF, maybe CF's days are numbered...

If we could find a niggle it could be that there is a slight delay at power up (0.8 sec) before you can take a shot, this appears to be taken up with the camera detecting and accessing the storage card. Canon's rival the four megapixel Nikon D2H has absolutely no delay at startup.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a Large (3504 x 2336) JPEG image (approx. 2,600 KB per image). Where indicated 'qX' marks the JPEG quality level selected, the default being q8.

Media Notes: The 4 GB Lexar Pro card was tested formatted with a FAT32 default cluster size (4 KB) and also larger 32 KB cluster size, no performance improvement was noted. The SanDisk Ultra II cards have the same performance as the SanDisk Extreme cards sold in North America.

The media used for this test were:

  • 2 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF card
  • 4 GB Lexar Pro 40x Type II CF card (FAT32)
  • 512 MB SanDisk Ultra II SD card
Action Details Time, seconds
(SanDisk CF)
Time, seconds
(Lexar CF)
Time, seconds
(SanDisk SD)
Power: Off to On *1   0.8 0.8 0.8
Power: On to Off   <0.5 <0.5 <0.5
Record: Review *2 RAW 1.1 1.1 1.1
Record: Review *2 JPEG 1.0 1.0 1.0
Record: to Play *3 RAW 0.8 / 0.5 0.8 / 0.5 0.7 / 0.5
Record: to Play *3 JPEG 1.1 / 0.6 1.2 / 0.6 1.1 / 0.6
Play: Image to Image *3 RAW <0.5 / <0.1 <0.5 / <0.1 <0.5 / <0.1
Play: Image to Image *3 JPEG 1.1 / <0.1 1.2 / <0.1 1.1 / <0.1


This timing was taken from the moment the power switch was turned to on to the moment a shot was taken (by holding down the shutter release from power on).

*2 This is the amount of time between pressing the shutter release and the image being displayed on the LCD monitor.

The Mark II appears to cache images which have been viewed recently to speed up browsing in play mode. The first timing is for the camera to load the image from the media card (if it has not already been cached), the second is if they have been viewed and cached by the camera.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/250 sec, F3.5), ISO 100. The camera was aimed at a high speed stopwatch, the watch was started and a burst of frames were taken until the cameras buffer filled, as soon as the busy lamp on the storage compartment went out another single shot was taken to mark the 'flush after last frame' time difference. A second test was carried out to measure the buffer full continuous shooting speed (the speed at which the camera continues to shoot if you hold your finger on the shutter button after burst of shots).

  • Frames in burst - the number of shots which can be taken at the measured speed, until the camera's internal buffer fills.
  • Flush after last frame - the amount of time after the last frame of a burst before the busy light on the storage compartment goes out, another full burst can be taken.
  • Buffer full speed - the speed at which the camera shoots if you keep your finger on the shutter release button even after the buffer fills (the camera continues to write out to the storage card, as a frame of space is freed in the buffer another shot is taken).
Image type Frames in
a burst
Flush after last frame Buffer full
High 8.33 fps 3504 x 2336 RAW 20 39.4 sec 0.5 fps
3504 x 2336 RAW+JPEG (L, q8) 20 50.0 sec 0.35 fps
3504 x 2336 JPEG (L, q8) 43 29.4 sec 1.3 fps
2544 x 1696 JPEG (M2, q8) 70 28.0 sec 2.0 fps
Low 3.00 fps 3504 x 2336 RAW 22 40.3 sec 0.5 fps
3504 x 2336 RAW+JPEG (L, q8) 20 48.4 sec 0.35 fps
3504 x 2336 JPEG (L, q8) 63 31.3 sec 1.3 fps
2544 x 1696 JPEG (M2, q8) 150 28.8 sec 2.0 fps

The results speak for themselves, the EOS-1D Mark II can push 8.33 x 8.2 megapixel images per second from its sensor (68 megapixel/sec) and has enough buffer space for twenty RAW images or 40 (or more) full resolution JPEG images. Drop output image size to around four megapixels and you can shoot 70 JPEG frames at 8.33 fps. Write speed is also very impressive, fill the camera's buffer and on average you'll be waiting around thirty seconds before the entire buffer is empty, a maximum of 50 seconds in the worst case.

Below are the results of our write performance tests on two CF and one SD card. The test is carried out by taking a full burst of shots and measuring the amount of time the storage card activity light is on, the amount of data written is then divided by this time to calculate the card throughput.

The biggest surprise was the performance of SanDisk's Ultra II SD card which out-performed the Compact Flash cards by some margin, especially in RAW mode where it was almost twice as fast delivering a blistering 6.5 MB/sec. Truly amazing.

Card performance: JPEG

Card Canon EOS-1D Mark II, write speed (JPEG L files)
2 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF

3,139 KB/sec

4 GB Lexar Pro 40x Type II CF 2,164 KB/sec
512 MB SanDisk Ultra II SD 4,877 KB/sec

Card performance: RAW

Card Canon EOS-1D Mark II, write speed (RAW files)
2 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF

3,799 KB/sec

4 GB Lexar Pro 40x Type II CF 2,900 KB/sec
512 MB SanDisk Ultra II SD 6,681 KB/sec

Firewire Reader Benchmark

Card Firewire Reader, write speed (RAW files)
2 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF

3,772 KB/sec

4 GB Lexar Pro 40x Type II CF 2,645 KB/sec
512 MB SanDisk Ultra II SD 3,336 KB/sec

File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. The Mark II will begin writing images as soon as it can and continue to write 'in the background' while you take further shots / change settings. You can not browse other images or enter the camera menu while images are being written to the storage card.

Below the number in (brackets) equates to the JPEG quality level which can be set through the camera's parameter menu. The quality level of 8 is the default, higher numbers mean higher quality and less compression.

The media used for this test were:

  • 2 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I CF card
  • 4 GB Lexar Pro 40x Type II CF card (FAT32)
  • 512 MB SanDisk Ultra II SD card
Store Time, secs
(SanDisk CF)
Time, secs
(Lexar CF)
Time, secs
(SanDisk SD)
2 GB card
3504 x 2336 RAW *1 2.14 2.78 1.22 8,100 KB 185
3504 x 2336 RAW + JPEG *2 2.85 3.70 1.68 10,700 KB 143
3504 x 2336 JPEG (L, q10) 1.33 1.80 0.82 4,900 KB 361
3504 x 2336 JPEG (L, q8) 0.86 1.16 0.57 2,600 KB 643
3504 x 2336 JPEG (L, q6) 0.74 1.07 0.48 2,100 KB 779
2544 x 1696 JPEG (M2, q8) 0.58 0.83 0.35 1,500 KB 906
*1 The Mark II uses a lossless compression (similar to Zip compression) on RAW files, thus they can vary slightly in size depending on ISO sensitivity and the amount of detail in the image.
*2 File size reported here is the size of the RAW and JPEG files added together. For our tests we chose Large, quality 8 (default).

All I can say is wow, first of all the camera's Compact Flash performance is amazing, it's easily as fast as our fastest device (Firewire card reader) and is probably as fast as these cards could possibly go. That however is overshadowed by the blistering performance put in on its SD interface with that SanDisk Ultra II SD card, just 1.68 seconds to write over 10 MB of data is truly impressive.

Battery life

The EOS-1D Mark II features the same large NP-E3 battery specified as has been used in the 1D and 1Ds. This battery is specified as 1650 mAh at 12 V, which works out as 19.8 Wh (or about 2.5 times the power of the EOS-10D's Lithium-Ion battery. Unlike the EOS-10D this battery pack uses NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery technology. I am honestly surprised that Canon are sticking with NiMH in what is the third generation 'EOS-1D' digital SLR, I would have expected them to shift to the lighter weight Lithium-Ion or Lithium-Polymer batteries by now.

UPDATE: It's worth noting that several members of our Canon 1D/1Ds forum who are long term EOS-1D users have noted significantly better battery life from the Mark II, to the magnitude of five or six times longer. This could be related to the switch from CCD to CMOS.