Timing & Performance

With the inclusion of the new Digic 4 processor the SX1 IS features much improved continuous shooting speed, at 4.0 frames per second (limited only by the card capacity if you shoot fine JPEG), although this is only without continuous AF. With continuous AF turned on the SX1 IS can only manage a more pedestrian 1.1 fps. But while that 4 fps might sound impressive (and certainly is when compared to cameras released last year), 2009 has brought many other superzoom cameras which can shoot at faster speeds, such as the Sony HX1 (which can do 10 fps). Other aspects of performance such as shot to shot speed, and focusing speed have not changed much since the S5 IS. Overall the SX1 IS fares well when compared to the last generation of super zooms, but anyone expecting a quantum leap in performance is in for a disappointment.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3264 x 2448 Super-Fine JPEG image (approx. 3,750 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 8.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Action Details
Time, secs

Power: Off to Record

Power: Off to Play Image displayed 1.2
Power: Record to Off Lens retracted and all activity ceased 1.3-2.7*1
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty 0.0
Record Review Image displayed 1.2
Mode: Record to Play   1.3
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) 0.9
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image ~ 0.4 *2
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 0.4

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 28 to 560 mm (20 x) full speed 1.5
Zoom from Wide to Tele 28 to 560 mm (20 x) full speed 3.9
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle ~ 0.3
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~ 0.3 *3
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~ 0.1
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Electronic Viewfinder ~ 0.1
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~ 0.5
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view 2.3
Shot to Shot Flash off ~ 1.0
Shot to Shot Flash on (red-eye reduction off) *4 2.0
Shot to Shot Flash on (red-eye reduction on) *4 2.0
*1 The camera takes longer to turn off when the lens is extended further out, taking the full 2.7 seconds when the lens is zoomed to the 560mm setting.
*2 You can also scroll quickly through low resolution thumbnails at 6fps by holding down the left or right button.
*3 This is an average figure for 'normal' photography, though there are occasions where the SX1 IS struggles to fix focus at the long end of the zoom with low-contrast subjects in low light, when the time can extend to well over a second (in low light it takes from 0.6 to 1.7 secs).
*4 In this test the subject distance is only 3 feet (0.9 m) - the recycle time will increase at greater subject distances, and if the batteries are running low.

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 frame and how long you would have to wait before you could take another shot. Media used for these tests was a 8.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

The SX1 IS has two continuous shooting modes (Continuous and Continuous-AF). The difference (as the name suggests) is that the Continuous-AF mode refocuses between each shot, which significantly slows the rate down to just over one frame per second (or longer if the camera struggles to focus). All but the Super Fine JPEG (non-focusing) mode allow you to shoot pretty much indefinitely (the Super Fine JPEG non-AF mode slows down slightly after 20 shots) - as long as you use a fast card.

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst
RAW Continuous 1.8 fps 9 1.2 fps
JPEG Super-Fine Continuous 4.0 fps 20 2.4 fps
JPEG Fine *1 Continuous 4.0 fps n/a n/a
RAW Continuous-AF 0.9 fps n/a n/a
JPEG Super-Fine *1 Continuous-AF 1.1 fps n/a n/a
JPEG Fine *1 Continuous-AF 1.1 fps n/a n/a

*1 With the shutter release held down. With a fast card it is impossible to fill the buffer

If you're happy with fixing the focus point at the first shot in a burst, the SX1's continuous shooting is pretty impressive for a compact camera; it's actually better then some entry level DSLRs. With AF activated, it is much slower, though it should be noted that continuous shooting performance is much improved over the S5 IS.

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 8.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Image Type
Time to store

Time to display

File size *1
Images on a *2
8.0GB Card
3648 x 3736 RAW 1.9 0.3 12,975 KB 530
3648 x 3736 JPEG Super-Fine 0.9 0.3 3,149 KB 1,817
3648 x 3736 JPEG Fine 0.9  0.3 1,783 KB 3,036
3648 x 3736 JPEG Normal 0.8  0.3 629 KB 6,225
2816 x 2112 JPEG Super-Fine 0.7 0.2 1,769 KB 2,895
1600 x 1200 JPEG Super-Fine 0.8  0.2 622 KB 7,546
640 x 480 JPEG Super-Fine 0.8  0.2 128 KB 9,999+

*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.

Even though the SX1 is working with bigger files, save times are better then the S5 IS, and just under 2 seconds to save a 13Mb RAW file is quite impressive in a compact camera. The larger buffer in the SX1 IS also means that you will never be waiting for the camera to be ready to shoot. We do recommend that you use a fast SD card, especially if you intend to shoot RAW images, videos or long bursts in continuous mode.