Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3 Review
Timing & Performance
Sony did it, the DSC-V3 was clearly the fastest of our 7mp group test. Downsides, it's startup time isn't anything to write home about (three seconds can seem like a lifetime) however all is forgiven when you start using the camera. Auto Focus feels and really is very quick, especially in good light, the V3 just locks and is ready before you need to start worrying about it. Combine that with a sub 1/10 sec (we couldn't measure it) shutter lag and you've got a camera which can snap pictures very quickly indeed. Just as important are shot to shot times and the V3 also excels here, just over one second between each shot (if you pump the shutter release) means you never feel as though you're waiting for the camera, it just responds. The V3's continuous shooting was mixed, fairly good buffer at the slower speed, limited buffer at higher speed but the camera locks up until the burst is written (which is a pity).
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3072 x 2304 Fine JPEG image (approx. 3,000 KB per image).
Media used for these tests
- 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Memory Stick
- 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
- 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
|Power: Off to Record||Live view appears||3.1||3.2||3.0|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||2.5||2.5||2.5|
|Power: Record to Off||3.9||3.9||3.9|
|Power: Play to Off||Lens retracted||<0.2||<0.2||<0.2|
|Mode: Record to Play||Image displayed||<0.2||<0.2||<0.2|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens extended||<0.2||<0.2||<0.2|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens retracted *1||2.8||2.8||2.8|
|Play: Magnify||To 5x magnification||3.1||3.1||3.1|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||0.8||0.8||0.8|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle (Auto AF area) *2||0.3 - 0.9|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto (Auto AF area) *2||0.6 - 1.5|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||Viewfinder||<0.1|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD Monitor||<0.1|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||Wide angle (Auto AF Area)||0.3|
|Off to Shot Taken||Wide angle (Auto AF Area)||3.1|
|Shot to Shot||Record review On (Auto Review)||1.1|
|Shot to Shot||Record review Off||1.1|
|*1||The lens automatically retracts after sixteen seconds in Play mode.|
|*2||Using Center AF area slows AF by just under a tenth of a second (0.1 sec).|
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. Note that continuous shooting modes are not available for RAW image format. Media used for these tests was a 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/250 sec during these tests.
Continuous Burst mode
Frames in one burst
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine||1.0 fps||15||16.2 sec|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard||1.0 fps||28||18.3 sec|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||1.0 fps||31||16.3 sec|
Continuous Speed Burst mode
Frames in one burst
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine||2.5 fps||8||11.9 sec|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard||2.5 fps||8||10.5 sec|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||2.5 fps||8||9.3 sec|
In Burst mode the V3 delivers a fairly average performance, just one frame per second but with a relatively large buffer. In Speed Burst things improve as the camera is capable of capturing 2.5 fps however there is that eight frame hard limit which means you'll be shooting for just over three seconds before the camera makes you wait. Unlike some other digital cameras the V3 locks up until the entire burst has been written.
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 beside the media slots had gone out. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". It's worth noting that you can't shoot 'just RAW' the V3 always writes a JPEG along with the RAW (.SRF) file hence the timings below are for 'RAW + JPEG'. You can modify the size / quality of the JPEG, in our tests we kept it as 7 MP Fine.
Media used for these tests
- 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Memory Stick
- 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
- 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
|Image Type||Time to write, secs *1||Time to display, secs|
|3072 x 2304 RAW + JPEG Fine||11.6||13.5||13.5||<0.2||<0.2||<0.2|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine||2.0||2.4||2.3||<0.2||<0.2||<0.2|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard||1.7||1.9||1.9||<0.2||<0.2||<0.2|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||1.4||1.8||1.7||<0.2||<0.2||<0.2|
|*1||As with most digital cameras there is a delay before the actual media write begins, the timings above include this delay (as they're taken from the shutter release). For JPEG images this appears to be around 1.1 sec, for RAW around 7.3 sec. Hence you must subtract this from the figures above to get the actual media write time.|
|Image Type||File size
|Images on a
1 GB Card
|3072 x 2304 RAW + JPEG Fine||17,800 KB||54|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine||3,000 KB||296|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Standard||1,500 KB||582|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||1,300 KB||1165|
The figures above don't tell the whole story, when shooting JPEG the DSC-V3 actually returns to it's live view as quickly as 0.8 seconds after shutter release, writing continues in the background. This isn't true for RAW files however which lock the camera during the write process. Overall the DSC-V3 put in a very impressive processing and media throughput performance, if we subtract the processing time the V3 managed between 3 and 4 MB/sec with the Memory Stick and 2.3 to 2.8 MB/sec with the CF cards. This is noteworthy as it's considerably faster than most compact digital cameras and even some digital SLR's.
Low Light Auto Focus
This test is designed to 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 is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).
at focal len.
AF Assist Lamp
Lowest light focus
|Wide (34 mm equiv.)||F2.8||On||Complete Darkness|
|Wide (34 mm equiv.)||F2.8||Off||-0.2 EV|
|Tele (136 mm equiv.)||F4.0||On||Complete Darkness|
|Tele (136 mm equiv.)||F4.0||Off||1.1 EV|
|Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)|
The V3's unique-to-Sony laser 'Hologram AF' assist system paints the subject with a pattern which the AF system can lock on to. This works well for fairly large subjects (such as people, walls, tables, our test chart), and in our test as expected the camera locked fairly easily in complete darkness. Without Hologram AF it still managed to perform quite well, especially at wide angle where it got a reliable, repeatable focus lock in quite dim conditions.
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
Batteries are 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
The DSC-V3's 4.4 Wh Lithium-Ion battery as enough for the DSC-V3 to last just over four hours, that's an impressive performance and works out about fifteen minutes longer than the Casio EX-P700 which has a similar capacity battery.
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