Sony DSC-F717 Review
Timings & File Sizes
As with the F707 the F717 proved to be a very fast camera to use. Startup times are much faster than almost every other digital camera, and certainly any other five megapixel. Using a lower capacity 32 MB Memory Stick reduced startup times to an amazing 1.7 seconds. Auto Focus was very fast at wide angle and only a little slower at telephoto (in good light). Shutter release lag is as we would expect and shot to shot times are very good indeed.
Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. A 128 MB Sony Memory Stick card was used for any timings which included file saving. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2560 x 1920 FINE JPEG image (approx. 2.0 MB per image).
(128 MB MS)
(32 MB MS)
|Power: Off to Record||2.6||1.7|
|Power: Off to Play||Image loading *1||2.6||2.8|
|Power: Record to Off||1.2||1.2|
|Power: Play to Off||<0.5||<0.5|
|Mode: Record to Play||Image loading *1||0.8||0.6|
|Mode: Play to Record||<0.5||<0.5|
|Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3||0.8||0.8|
|Auto Focus LAG||Wide angle (38 mm equiv.) *2||0.6|
|Auto Focus LAG||Telephoto (190 mm equiv.) *2||1.1|
|Shutter Release LAG||LCD monitor, pre-focused (shutter rel. half-pressed)||0.1|
|Shutter Release LAG||EVF, pre-focused (shutter rel. half-pressed)||0.1|
|Shutter Release LAG||LCD monitor, full press, wide angle, AF||0.6|
|Off to Shot Taken||128 MB Memory Stick||2.9|
|Off to Shot Taken||32 MB Memory Stick||2.1|
|Shot to Shot||Wide angle, AF||1.6|
|*1||'Rough image' is displayed while more detailed image is loaded.|
|*2||In low light using the Hologram AF (laser) focus times were closer to 2.2 seconds (still very respectable).|
Auto Focus LAG is (roughly) the amount of time it takes the camera to autofocus (a half-press and hold of the shutter release button), this timing is normally the most variable as its affected by the subject matter, current focus position, still or moving subject etc. This timing is an average.
Shutter Release LAG is the amount of time it takes to take the shot from the moment you fully depress the shutter release button, measured both as a time including auto focus and a time assuming you have already pre-focused by holding a half-press of the shutter release.
Low Light Focus
Using our new low light focusing tests we measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away. Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus.
This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast
detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), if
the subject were less easy to focus upon then you would need more light.
- Sony DSC-F717 best low light focus: 0 EV (darkness)
Nothing has changed here so we get the exact same results as the DSC-F707. The F717 was easily capable of focusing in complete darkness thanks to its 'Hologram AF' (laser pattern) focusing mechanism. The laser paints a sharp pattern on to the subject, this pattern is sharp and bright enough for the contrast detection auto focus system to adjust the focus accurately.
The maximum focus distance (the range of the laser) in darkness, this was approximately 5.5 m (18 ft) - this is focusing on the optimum subject, a flat white surface.
Hologram AF Caveats
(This from the DSC-F707 review, all applies to the DSC-F717). In use it became clear that the best way to use Hologram AF for small subjects at close distances or medium subjects at further distances was to 'aim' at something larger nearby which would be covered by more of the laser pattern. In our own tests aiming the camera at a subjects face approximately 3 m away with a wall about 1 m behind the Hologram AF system would occasionally miss and focus on the wall behind (because more of the pattern hit the wall). However aiming initially at the subjects torso (which is can covered by more of the pattern) for the half-press then re-framing before a full press worked every time.
Later tests revealed the 'spread' of the pattern to be approximately 12.6°, the diagram below shows the size of the laser pattern at different distances from the lens (1, 3 and 5 m):
Burst 3 Mode
The F717's dedicated continuous shooting mode is called 'Burst 3', in this mode one press of the shutter release records three frames over a 0.8 second period (thus 2.5 fps). Depending on the selected image size / quality you will have to wait for these images to be written away to the Memory Stick before you can shoot the next burst.
|Image Size / Quality||Frames||Frames per second||Time before next burst|
|2560 x 1920 FINE||3||2.5 fps||11.4 sec|
|2560 x 1920 STANDARD||3||2.5 fps||8.2 sec|
|2048 x 1536 FINE||3||2.5 fps||9.8 sec|
|1280 x 960 FINE||3||2.5 fps||6.5 sec|
|640 x 480 FINE||3||2.5 fps||4.2 sec|
File Flush / Display Timing
There are three timings below, I'll describe each in turn:
- Time to process - this is the amount of time after pressing
the shutter release button before the camera returns control to you,
the image may still be being written away to the Memory Stick but you
can begin to take the next shot.
- Time to flush - this is the amount of time it takes the camera
to process and flush; complete writing the image to the Memory Stick.
It is taken from the moment the shutter release is pressed to the moment
the red light beside the Memory Stick slot (inside the compartment)
goes out. This timing includes the time to process.
- Time to display - this is the amount of time it takes the camera to display the image, as with most digital cameras the F717 first displays a rough version of the image (a thumbnail from the file header) and then loads the full resolution image, you can't manipulate the image until it is fully loaded (magnify etc.) however you can interrupt this loading process skip to the next image.
Just like the F707 the F717 has just enough buffer space to hold a maximum of three images at a time, so it's possible to snap two shots and still have space for one more. The table below includes timings for the F707 (showin in brackets). Timings for which the F717 is faster are highlighted in green, slower in red.
on a 128 MB
|2560 x 1920 TIFF||49.1 (39.6)||49.1 (39.6)||2.7 (2.7)||*2 16,603 KB||7|
|2560 x 1920 FINE||1.2 (1.4)||4.9 (3.8)||2.6 (2.6)||2,000 KB||51|
|2560 x 1920 STANDARD||1.2 (1.4)||3.8 (3.1)||2.3 (2.3)||1,300 KB||96|
|2048 x 1536 FINE||1.9 (1.7)||4.5 (3.3)||1.8 (1.9)||1,200 KB||82|
|1280 x 960 FINE||1.8 (1.4)||2.9 (2.3)||1.2 (1.3)||600 KB||202|
|640 x 480 FINE||1.6 (1.4)||2.2 (1.5)||0.6 (1.0)||160 KB||789|
|*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 (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.|
|*2||The DSC-F717 rather wastefully creates an additional JPEG along with the TIFF file, thus the total size (2,200 KB + 14,403 KB) is approximately 16,603 KB.|
We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:
- Take 4 shots without flash
- Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
- Take 1 shot with flash
- Wait 1 minute
All batteries had been fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
Prosumer / SLR-Like
|Battery||Power||Battery life||Number of shots|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 14 mins||125|
|Minolta DiMAGE 5||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 56 mins||195|
|Nikon Coolpix 5700||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 08 mins||215|
|Canon PowerShot S40||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 13 mins||225|
|Minolta DiMAGE S304||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 18 mins||235|
|Canon PowerShot S45||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 28 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 4500||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 27 mins||250|
|Fujifilm FinePix 6900Z||NP-80||4.1 Wh||2 hr 29 mins||250|
|Nikon Coolpix 990||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 995||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 5000||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 32 mins||260|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Canon PowerShot Pro1||BP-511A||10.2 Wh||2 hr 36 mins||265|
|Canon PowerShot S50||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Minolta DiMAGE S404||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Sony DSC-V1||NP-FC11||2.8 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Olympus C-7000 Zoom||LI-12B||4.5 Wh||2 hr 44 mins||280|
|Nikon Coolpix 8700||EN-EL1||5.0 Wh||2 hr 45 mins||280|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7i||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 46 mins||270|
|Olympus E-20||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Canon PowerShot G1||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 00 mins||300|
|Nikon Coolpix 5400||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||3 hr 06 mins||315|
|HP Photosmart 850||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 12 mins||325|
|Sony DSC-S75||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 15 mins||330|
|Nikon Coolpix 8800||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||3 hr 27 mins||350|
|Fujifilm FinePix S602Z||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 29 mins||350|
|Canon PowerShot G2||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 32 mins||355|
|Casio QV-4000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 38 mins||365|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||380|
|Casio EXILIM EX-P700||NP-40||4.5 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||385|
|Sony DSC-S85||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 50 mins||400|
|Sony DSC-F717||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 02 mins||405|
|Pentax Optio 750Z||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 03 mins||415|
|Sony DSC-V3||NP-FR1||4.4 Wh||4 hr 05 mins||415|
|Nikon Coolpix 8400||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||4 hr 09 mins||420|
|Sony DSC-F707||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 20 mins||440|
|Fujifilm S7000 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||4 hr 23 mins||445|
|Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2||NP-400||11.1 Wh||4 hr 26 mins||450|
|Canon PowerShot G3||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 32 mins||455|
|Canon PowerShot G5||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 33 mins||460|
|Pentax Optio 550||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 36 mins||465|
|Minolta DiMAGE A1||NP-400||11.1 Wh||5 hr 02 mins||515|
|Leica Digilux 2||BP-DC1-E||10.1 Wh||5 hr 05 mins||515|
|Sony DSC-F828||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||5 hr 28 mins||540|
|Fujifilm FinePix S5000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||5 hr 31 mins||555|
|Canon PowerShot G6||BP-511A||10.3 Wh||5 hr 38 mins||570|
|Olympus C-8080 WZ||BLM-1||10.8 Wh||5 hr 52 mins||595|
|Other test notes:|
| LCD monitor is left on during
the battery test
The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set
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