Canon PowerShot S1 IS Review
Timing & Performance
Canon has made much of the performance enhancements offered by its DIGIC processor, and the S1 IS is proof perfect that these are no hollow claims. Overall performance is excellent - even when compared to considerably more expensive cameras. And the S1 IS feels fast and responsive in use; aside from the slow AF at longer focal lengths you never feel you are waiting for the camera to catch up. It is a pity that the AF slows down so much when you zoom in (the lag can sometimes stretch to two seconds, and there is a tendancy to 'hunt'), as this means the S1 IS simply can't keep up with the action, despite the speedy processing and low shutter lag.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2048 x 1536 Super-Fine JPEG image (approx. 1,350 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.
|Power: Off to Record||3.7|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||3.6|
|Power: Record to Off||Lens retracted and all activity ceased||3.4|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty||0.0|
|Record Review||Image displayed||0.8|
|Mode: Record to Play||1.3|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||~0.7|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens not extended||2.3|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (10x)||0.9|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||0.5|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||1.1|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||38 to 380 mm (10 x) full speed||1.0|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||38 to 380 mm (10 x) low speed||6.0|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle||~0.6|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto||~1.4|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view||0.2|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||Electronic Viewfinder||0.25|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.9|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||4.1|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||1.6|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on||2.7|
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).
|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)
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 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
In burst mode the S1 IS shows a brief review image for each frame taken.
Frames in a burst *2
|2048 x 1536 JEPG Super-Fine||Burst||1.7 fps||10||slows to 1.1 fps|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||Burst||1.7 fps||50+||n/a|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Super Fine||Burst||1.7 fps||50+||n/a|
|1024 x 768 JPEG Fine||Burst||1.7 fps||50+||n/a|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||With the shutter release held down. With a fast card it is virutally impossible to fill the buffer|
The S1 IS has very impressive continuous shooting capabilies, though the focus system struggles to keep up with the processor's ability to capture and save JPEGs. With a fast enough card shooting at anything other than the top (Super Fine) setting, the only limit to the number of pictures in a single sequence is the amount of space you have left. Even shooting 3MP Super Fine JPEGs the performance is impressive, only slowing slightly after 9 or 10 shots. Again it is impossible to actually fill the buffer completely (in other words you can keep shooting until you run out of space, albeit at a slower rate).
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 cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.
Time to store
File size *1
Images on a *2
1 GB Card
|2048 x 1536 JEPG Super-Fine||1.6||~0.8||1,628 KB||611|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||1.6||~0.8||949 KB||1095|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Super Fine||1.4||~0.8||975 KB||975|
|1024 x 768 JPEG Fine||~0.9||~0.8||276 KB||2974|
|*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).|
With write times averaging around 1.6 seconds for a Super Fine JPEG the S1 IS is very fast for a compact camera, though at around 1MB/s it is hardly pushing the capabilities of the Sandisk card.