Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9 Review
Timing & Performance
Like the FX7 (and FX8) before it, the FX9 feels very responsive in everyday use, and the new high speed focus mode (also seen on the FZ5 and other more recent cameras) puts the FX9 near the top of its class. Shutter lag is negligible (under 0.1 secs), as long as you either turn off the image stabilization or use Mode 1 (mode 2 is activated when you press the shutter, and it doubles the shutter lag). All-in-all a very speedy performance, and very little cause for complaint.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2816 x 2112 Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,750 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.
|Power: Off to Record||1.4|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||1.8|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||3.0|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty||1.8|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~0.7|
|Mode: Record to Play||1.1|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||0.9|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (16x)||~0.9|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||~0.8|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails *1||1.1|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||38 to 114 mm (3 x)||1.8|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle (high-speed focus mode)||~0.25 *2|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto (high-speed focus mode)||~0.35*3|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view (OIS off and Mode 1)||~0.09|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view (OIS Mode 2)||~0.2|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.55|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~2.3|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||1.75|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (anti red-eye off)||2.75|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (anti red-eye on)||3.0|
|*1||You can also view 4x4 thumbnails, which takes another 2.4 seconds to load.|
|*2||Average value. In good light the focus takes around 0.2 seconds, in poor light around 0.3 seconds. Turning off the high-speed focus option increases these times by around 30%.|
|*3||Average value. In good light the focus takes around 0.3 seconds, in poor light around 0.4 seconds. Turning off the high-speed focus option increases these times by around 30%.|
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 1.0 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/160 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
In burst mode the FX9 shows a brief review image for each frame taken, but the live preview does not work between frames. There are three continuous drive modes; High (H), Low (L) and No Limit (∞). The quoted speeds are 3.0 fps (H), 2.0 fps (L) and 1.5 fps (∞). Our tests indicate the highest speed (3.0 fps) cannot be achieved at resolutions higher than 3MP.
Frames in a burst *1
|2816 x 2112 JPEG Fine||Continuous H||2.6 fps||6||2.0s pause*3|
|2816 x 2112 JPEG Fine||Continuous L||2.1 fps||6||2.0s pause*3|
|2816 x 2112 JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||1.2 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|2816 x 2112 JPEG Standard||Continuous H||2.6 fps||8||2.0s pause*3|
|2816 x 2112 JPEG Standard||Continuous L||2.1 fps||8||2.0s pause*3|
|2816 x 2112 JPEG Standard||Continuous ∞||1.2 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||Continuous H||3.0 fps||6||2.0s pause*3|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||Continuous L||2.1 fps||6||2.0s pause*3|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||1.2 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||Continuous H||3.0 fps||6||2.0s pause*3|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||Continuous L||2.1 fps||6||2.0s pause*3|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||1.2 fps||limited by card capacity||n/a|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||In H and L mode continuous shooting stops when the buffer is full (6 or 8 frames according to the file quality setting. This is the delay before the next burst.|
|*3||This is the average delay (which varies from around 1.4 to 2.5 seconds) and includes refocusing before the next burst.|
Not a bad performance at all, and significantly better than the FX7, despite the bigger file sizes. The buffer clears very quickly, and most of the delay between bursts is due to the fact that you cannot just hold down the shutter and wait - you have to take your finger off the shutter and press it again. This means waiting for the camera to refocus. If you want to take a really long burst with no pauses you can always switch to the 'no limit' mode (which averages around 1.2 frames per second). Note that when we switched to a slower no-brand card we found the FX9 struggled to keep going after six or seven shots even in the no limit mode, so make sure you buy a fast one if you want to take a lot of extended sequences.
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 512MB SanDisk Extreme (aka Ultra II) SD card. .
Time to store
File size *1
Images on a *2
1.0 GB Card
|2816 x 2112 JPEG Fine||~1.7||~0.8||2,750 KB||334|
|2816 x 2112 JPEG Standard||~1.2||~0.7||1,300 KB||659|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||~1.9||~0.9||1,425 KB||626|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Standard||~1.7||~0.9||720 KB||1,215|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine||~1.7||~0.8||790 KB||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).|
With write times averaging just under two seconds for a 6MP Fine JPEG the FX9 is no slouch - approximately 1600KB/s, though the fact that the times don't reduce significantly as you reduce file size would indicate that the majority of that time is spent in processing, not writing to the card. Write times were much longer when using a slower card, so again, buy a fast one if you don't like to be kept waiting.