Timing & Performance

The SX100 IS uses the latest incarnation of Canon's imaging processor, the DIGIC III. Other recent Canon compacts (using the same processor) have performed very well in our tests, so it comes as no surprise that the SX100 IS generally feels very responsive and snappy as well. The lens covers a very long range, so not surprisingly it takes slightly longer to extend and retract when switching the camera on or off than a shorter lens but it all stays well within acceptable limits.

If we have to complain about one thing it has to be the long flash recycling times. Especially when batteries are weak it can take up to almost ten seconds until the flash is ready for the next shot, pretty annoying when there is a whole group of people waiting for their photo to be taken. The AF slows down a little at the long end and in low light but still performs well for a 'budget' superzoom. Overall with the SX100 IS you get a responsive camera for your money, that is fun to use. Image review and shutter lag are very good for a camera in this price bracket.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3264 x 2448 Superfine JPEG image (approx. 3,370 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record   1.7
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 1.3
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 2.0
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty ~0.2
Record Review Image displayed 0.8
Mode: Record to Play   1.6
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended 2.0
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended 3.0
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) 0.8
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image 0.4
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 0.2

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 36 to 360 mm (10 x) 2.2
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle ~0.3 *1
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~0.6 *2
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~0.2
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder  
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.6
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view 2.5
Shot to Shot Flash off 1.6
Shot to Shot Flash on 5.9*3
Shot to Shot Flash on, red eye 6.7*3
*1 Focus speed is fractionally faster if you use center AF rather than Face Detection. Focus speed in low light can slow down marginally
*2 Focus at the tele end can marginally slow down in low light
*3 Shot to Shot times with Flash can go up to 10 seconds with weak batteries

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. The media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

In continuous shooting mode the SX100 IS averages 1.3 frames per second which is pretty much normal for a camera in this class but a lot lower than the Panasonic TZ3 (which manages 3 frames a second, though only for a limited number of shots). With the SX100 IS shooting at this rate is only limited by the size of the memory card, so you do not need to worry about buffering. In Continuous AF mode things slow down a little as the camera refocuses before each shot.

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
3264 x 2448 JPEG Super Fine Continuous 1.3 fps unlimited n/a
3264 x 2448 JPEG Super Fine Continuous AF 0.8 fps unlimited n/a
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine Continuous 1.2 fps unlimited n/a

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).

Continuous shooting is good but not brilliant for this camera class - it is definitely a bonus though that continuous shooting is not limited by the size of a fast memory buffer. Ultimately few 'super zoom' cameras offer the performance needed for true 'sports action' photography, and the SX100 IS is no exception.

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 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Image Type
Time to store

Time to display

File size *1
Images on a *2
1GB Card
3264 x 2448 JPEG Super Fine ~1.2 ~0.2 3,370 KB 286
3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine ~0.9 ~0.2 1,720 KB 476
3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal ~0.6 ~0.2 730 KB 983
2592 x 1944 JPEG Fine ~0.7 ~0.2 1,084 KB 695
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine ~0.5 ~0.2 690 KB 1086

*1 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).
*2 Camera estimation.

With write times averaging around 1.2 seconds for a 8MP Super Fine JPEG the SX100 IS performs very well indeed for a camera at this level. If write times are high up on your list of priorities it makes sense to invest in some fast memory cards in order to take advantage of the cameras performance.