The Timing Tests

* NOTE: For all of our time tests, the camera is reset to its factory default settings and set to record using the highest resolution and quality setting. It is set to record in Auto mode. We also disabled all sounds and "welcome" screens. A PNY 512MB SD card was used.

Before reading our results, please refer to our Testing Procedures page.

Startup Time

The startup time is recorded from the moment that the power button is pushed to the moment that the shutter sounds. The camera is set to record in Auto mode and all startup sounds and images are disabled.

Startup time (seconds)
Canon SD300 1.84
Casio EX-Z40 2.15
Pentax S40 3.63
Olympus Verve 3.76
Nikon 4100 4.02

The SD300 is able to start up and take a picture in just 1.84 seconds. When we enabled the startup sound, the camera slows down very slightly to a 2.0 sec. startup time. Either way, this camera starts up very fast.

Auto-focus and Shutter Lag

To record shutter lag, we perform two tests with the lens at its widest angle setting. For the first test, we pre-focus the lens and measure the amount of time that it takes the camera to take a picture after the shutter button is pressed. The second test measures the time that it takes for the camera to take a picture after we press the shutter button without pre-focusing. Each test is performed 3 times and the results are averaged. We left AiAF enabled for this test. For more information regarding our testing procedures, please refer to our Testing Procedures page.

With Pre-focus (seconds) Without Pre-focus (seconds)
Nikon 4100 0.09 0.55
Canon SD300 0.08 0.62
Olympus Verve 0.13 0.64
Pentax S40 0.29 0.78

When we pre-focused the SD300, the shutter lag was a mere 0.08 sec. With a full auto-focus, the camera was able to take a picture after a 0.62 lag, which is on the fast side of average. We didn't notice any significant improvement in focus speed when we disabled AiAF. Overall, we are very impressed with the shutter lag times.

Write Times

We recorded 5 different write times with a PNY 512 MB SD card:

Single Shot - The time that it takes for a single picture to be completely written to the flash card (the time that the "activity light" is on).
Shot To Shot (STS) - The time until the second shot can be taken after the first (shutter to shutter).
Shot To Shot w/Flash - The time that it takes the camera to take two pictures with the flash (from flash to flash).
Shot To Shot w/Buffer Full - The time between the last shot of a burst that fills the buffer to the moment that the shutter sounds again.
Clear Buffer - The time that it takes the camera to clear the buffer after a full burst of pictures is taken.

We performed each test three times and averaged the results. Below are the resolution, quality setting, and average file size used for the tests.

Resolution (pixels) Quality setting Avg. file size (MB)
Canon SD300 2272x1704 Superfine 2.33
Nikon 4100 2288x1712 High 1.34
Olympus Verve 2272x1704 SHQ 2.56
Pentax S40 2304x1728 Superior 2.48

Single Shot Shot to Shot Shot to Shot w/Flash Shot to Shot w/Buffer Full Clear Buffer
Canon SD300 * 1.24 5.07 N/A N/A
Nikon 4100 * 1.90 12.07 3.54 9.99
Olympus Verve 3.08 1.93 11.47 2.85 20.05
Pentax S40 1.26 3.75 12.21 1.58 N/A

* Because these cameras do not have precise activity lights, we were unable to record a Single Shot time.

Although we couldn't measure a Single Shot time accurately for the SD300, it is certainly less than a second. Between shots without the flash, the SD300 takes just 1.24 seconds. When the flash is enabled, the cycle time is a bit slower at 5.07 seconds. As our comparison shows, this is much faster than similar cameras that we have reviewed. In Continuous drive mode, the SD300 is able to shoot images at 2.46 fps at the highest resolution and quality setting. With a fast SD card, you could shoot at this speed until your memory card fills up. With our 512 MB PNY card, at about every 20 frames, the SD300 would slow down very slightly for 2 or 3 frames and then speed back up to 2.46 fps for about 20 more frames. The camera would continue this cycle until the SD card was full. This is a very impressive continuous drive mode for a consumer camera. Because the SD300 is able to clear its images out of the buffer so fast, we were unable to record a "Clear Buffer" time. This is surely one of the fastest ultra compact digicams that we have tested.

Battery Performance Resolving Fine Lines
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  • Fricardo - Saturday, July 16, 2005 - link

    "We are eagerly awaiting the release of the 5 megapixel PowerShot SD400 and we will certainly bring you a review"

    Sooo, the SD400 is out. And still no review?
    Reply
  • brownba - Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - link

    i love my sd300

    i've read about the lcd being fragile...
    but that's just the 2% of disgruntled owners being loud, while teh 98% of happy owners are out taking great pictures
    Reply
  • zoomsix - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    Buyers Beware: the sd300 lcd breaks VERY EASY. Take special care when handling as even the slightest impact can break it, and canon WILL NOT replace it free of charge.
    IMO, this is reason enough not to buy the camera. The simple fact that it can break from something as simple as being in your pocket is screaming flawed design.

    You won't see this in any reviews because reviewers only test the product... they don't actually have extended experience with it.

    If you don't believe me, just search around.

    You have been warned.
    Reply
  • Cameraman - Wednesday, March 09, 2005 - link

    Yet another flippin' awesome review, man! I can't even imagine buying a digital camera at this point without reading what you have to say about it. Thanks for all of the hard work, dude! Reply
  • Bookie - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    I just got this camera last week to compliment my Dimage A1 and I've very impressed. The movie quality rocks. The pictures aren't quite as clear as my Dimage, but that's where the $400 price different comes in. I paid just over $300 for this camera. I really wanted to wait for next month to get either ther sd500 or sd600, but since I'm headed on a cruise next week I couldn't wait any longer, though I may ebay this after the trip and get one of the new ones depending on their street price. I also found replacement batteries (generic) for $12 online and picked up a couple of those.

    I did comparisons of this camera with the eLixims. Even though I could get the 5mp casio for the same price, it just didn't do as much as well as this camera. I also couldn't stand that they had to have that docking station to charge.
    Reply
  • Brunnis - Saturday, February 26, 2005 - link

    Okay, I think I've decided now. I'm buying the IXUS 40 (as it's apparently called here), along with a fast 1GB SD card and Canon's own camera bag. Should be really neat to have this camera the coming summer. :) I've read more reviews of it and they're all agreeing with this one! Reply
  • drwho9437 - Friday, February 25, 2005 - link

    #21 they did I believe add a digital zoom in the SD500 but not an optical one. Though since the image is so small compaired to the sensor resolution it will probably work well. The auto focus system is designed to continously focus. Reply
  • stephencaston - Friday, February 25, 2005 - link

    #22, yep IXUS 40 for the SD300 and IXUS 30 for the SD200. Reply
  • Brunnis - Friday, February 25, 2005 - link

    This is pretty much what I've been looking for! I'm just wondering what the exact name is in europe. Would this be the Digital IXUS 40 (not 400!)? Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Friday, February 25, 2005 - link

    I have a SD300 and I also use a Lexar 32x 1 GB on it. I've tried taken a movie sample with a full battery charge had it go till I filled the card to capacity. Thats about 8 minutes and 45(50 maybe) using a empty card @ 640x480 30 FPS. After that, I still managed to get a weeks worth of shots (about 10-20 a day) with a few more videos on the battery charge. Needless to say, I am impressed and decided to against buying a spare.

    I am irked about the inability to zoom in the movie mode but I heard they fixed that in the upcoming SD500......
    Reply

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