Olympus SP-310 Review
Timing & Performance
Although it rarely feels sluggish, the SP-310 is by no means the fastest camera in its class. That said, there are only one or two areas where this really shows itself; focusing and shutter lag aren't great, meaning the SP-310 isn't the best camera in the world for rapid shooting, and focusing in low light can be very slow indeed outside the 1.0m or so reach of the AF illuminator. Flash recycle is also on the long side, and if you shoot more than four SHQ images in a row you hit the buffer limit, which really slows things down. The slow xD picture card read / write speeds mean scrolling through images can feel slow in playback mode, and the time taken to empty the buffer after a burst of shots in continuous mode feels like an eternity. At the end of the day, however, this is a camera that offers a lot of features at a very keen price, so you can't expect miracles, and in most everyday shooting situations it won't let you down.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3072 x 2304 SHQ JPEG image (approx. 3,800 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a Fujifilm 512MB xD-Picture Card.
|Power: Off to Record||1.6 *1|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||3.1|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.7|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens extended||1.6|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens already retracted||~ 0.2|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~ 0.6|
|Mode: Record to Play||2.5|
|Mode: Play to Record||1.3|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (10x)||~1.2|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||2.5|
|Play: Thumbnail view||2 x 2 thumbnails||~0.7|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||~1.6|
|Play: Thumbnail view||4 x 4 thumbnails||~3.3|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||38 to 114 mm (3 x)||1.2|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle||~0.6 *2|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto||~0.6 *2|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view||~0.15|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||Viewfinder||~0.1|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.6|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~3.5|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||1.8 *3|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (with red eye reduction on)||4.9|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (with red eye reduction off)||6.9|
|*1||This is the time it takes for the preview image to appear - you cannot actually take a picture until around 3.2 seconds after you've pressed the 'on' button.|
|*2||In low light or when the subject lacks contrast the time to focus can stretch to as much as 1.6 seconds.|
|*3||Until the buffer is full (four shot in SHQ 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 Fujifilm 512MB xD-Picture Card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
The SP-310 has three burst modes; standard, high speed and 'AF'. The standard burst mode manages a best performance of around 1.7 frames per second (though at some file size / quality settings this drops to as little as 1.2 fps). The number of shots in a burst depends on the image size/quality used, and appears to be limited only by the size of the card once you drop to 2MP or below. The High Speed burst mode allows you to take two shots in rapid succession (though i'm not sure what the value of a burst mode that only takes two shots is...), and the AF mode - which is much slower - refocuses between each shot (in the other modes focus and exposure are fixed at the first shot). You cannot use RAW mode in any continuous drive mode.
Frames in a burst *1
|3072 x 2304 JPEG SHQ||Burst||1.7 fps||3 or 4||~10.5s delay *2|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG SHQ||Burst-High||3.3 fps||2||~7.0s delay *2|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG SHQ||Burst-AF||0.7 fps *3||4||~10.5s delay *2|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG HQ||Burst||1.2 fps||15||~14.0s delay *2|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG HQ||Burst-High||2.5 fps||2||~7.0s delay *2|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG HQ||Burst-AF||0.7 fps *3||15||~14.0s delay *2|
|2048 x 1546 JPEG SQ||Burst||1.3 fps||31||~16.5s delay *2|
|2048 x 1546 JPEG SQ||Burst-High||2.5 fps||2||~7.0s delay *2|
|2048 x 1546 JPEG SQ||Burst-AF||0.7 fps *3||33||~16.5s delay *2|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||Once the buffer is full no more pictures can be taken. The figure shown is the approximate time you have to wait before the next full burst can be started. You can actually take one picture after around 7.0 seconds|
|*3||Speed varies according to focusing speed.|
Obviously most buyers of the SP-310 are unlikely to be looking for class-leading continuous shooting performance, and if they are, they're looking in the wrong place. The main issue is the size of the buffer and the relatively slow write speed of xD-Picture Card (though I'm sure there are faster xD cards around). All that said, for a camera at this price point it's a perfectly acceptable level of performance.
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 the 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 Fujifilm 512MB xD-Picture Card.
Time to store
Time to display
File size *1
Images on a *2
|3072 x 2304 RAW||~9.8||~8.0 *3||10,470 KB *3||48|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG SHQ||~4.0||~2.3||3,791 KB||99|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG HQ||~2.5||~1.2||1,520 KB||293|
|2048 x 1546 JPEG SQ||~2.1||~0.6||600 KB||652|
|*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).|
|*3||The SP-310 offers the option to save a JPEG file with each RAW image. These figures are for RAW files only (i.e. with this option turned off). The save time increases slightly if you turn on the JPEG option.|
The slow read/write speed of xD-Picture card is obvious when you look at these figures - just over 1MB per second is hardly class-leading. That said, the only time this is an issue is when shooting in RAW mode, as the files are too big for the buffer, meaning they must be saved directly to the card, which locks up the camera for just under 10 seconds after every shot. If you do shoot raw - and there are some compelling reasons to do so for 'special' shots - you'd better not want to take them in rapid succession. The buffering works perfectly well for JPEGs, though it's only large enough to hold four SHQ files, after which there is a delay whilst some of the data is written to the card.
|scrum break away by al booth|
from Sport competition
|Parking Deck by Olaf R|
from Your City - Parking Garage
|Communication Tech by alberto_b|
|With & without by OBellini|
from Empty - Full
When one of his friends got a lens filter stuck on his $1,700 Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L lens, former MythBuster Adam Savage removed it using an unlikely, terrifying tool: a band saw.
The New Yorker asked Magnum's famed photographers, in town for the agency's 70th anniversary, to go out and capture 'the fleeting beauty of New York City's golden hour.' This is what they shot.
Roger Cicala is a difficult man to impress, but he's been waxing lyrical over at Lensrentals about Sony's new 12-24mm wide zoom.
Glassware is one of the most challenging subjects to photograph, especially against a white background. This tutorial shows you how to do it with hardly any gear.
Handevision is now shipping its all-metal Iberit 90mm F2.4 short telephoto lens for Leica M-mount 35mm and full-frame cameras.
Isocell comprises four sub-brands: Bright, Fast, Slim and Dual which are tailored to specific mobile device market demands.
The new store will be located at the Fotografiska center for contemporary photography in Stockhom, Sweden and carry the full range of Hasselblad products.
A recent vacation gave Richard a chance to think about the needs of travel photography – and how our reviews might recognize the perfect travel camera.
Need more evidence that 2017 is the year analog begins its comeback? Well, welcome another new film stock to the world.
The winners of the 10th annual iPhone Photography Awards have been announced, and they're striking.
If you were disappointed by reports that the Sony a9 struggles with adapted Canon glass, you might be able to take some comfort from Metabones' latest update.
Blackmagic Design has dropped the prices of its Video Assist external monitor/recorders for a limited time. Prices of the SD card-based recorders will be reduced in all markets, while supplies last.
Instagram has started testing a new feature called 'favorites' that enables users to share photos with only certain people. Only a small number of users have access to the feature at this time, though it may roll out to everyone in the future.
Lensbaby has announced the Velvet 85 F1.8 for interchangeable lens cameras. The lens is available in Canon, Nikon, Sony E, Sony A, Pentax K, Samsung NX, Fuji X and Micro 4/3 mounts.
It's the end of an era. Parent company Micron has announced that they are discontinuing the Lexar retail brand. This includes 'memory cards, USB flash drives, readers, and storage drives.'
Youthful trainspotter turned adult photographer, John Sanderson has traveled across the United States, documenting the country's railroads. But you won't find any trains in his pictures.
Sony's new CMOS sensor is backside-illuminated and offers an all-pixel global reset function which should drastically reduce rolling shutter effect when panning.
Shoulderpod has converted its offerings into a lego-like modular system by offering all individual parts of existing products separately, allowing users to build exactly the rig they need for a specific project or simply replace a damaged part.
Photographer Felix AAA has spent the past ten years touring the world with a variety of musicians, capturing behind the scenes shots and portraits. He talks about some of his favorite images on the FujiFilm Blog.
A roll of film discovered in an Argus C2 from an Oregon Goodwill turned out to contain some incredible images – and has been re-united with the original owner's family.
Nikon's 28mm F1.4E ED appears to roundly complete the company's updated lineup of fast, professional prime lenses. We've already seen some initial images from a Nikon ambassador, but we've worked through a gallery of our own, with a lens of our own over the past week. Take a look.
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.