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. A 512 MB SanDisk Ultra II CF 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.

   Startup time (seconds)
Canon 20D 0.23
Canon 350D 0.31
Canon 300D 2.76

As the table above demonstrates, the 350D is able to start up nearly instantaneously. The 300D takes nearly 9 times as long at 2.76 seconds. It is exciting to see that all the major digital SLRs are starting to incorporate "instant-on" capabilities, even on their entry-level models.

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 used a Canon 50mm Macro lens for the Focus and Lag tests. The cameras were set to Shutter-priority at 1/640th sec. For more information regarding our testing procedures, please refer to our Testing Procedures page.

   With Pre-focus (seconds)  Without Pre-focus (seconds)
Canon 350D 0.09 0.21
Canon 20D 0.09 0.23

There is no doubt that the 350D has a very fast shutter lag. It took just 0.09 sec. to take a picture when we pre-focused the lens. When we included focusing in the time, it took just 0.21 seconds to focus and take the picture. This is a very impressive speed. We found a very slight difference between the focus lag times of the 350D and the 20D, but this is well within the margin of error. Keep in mind that the amount of time needed to focus can vary greatly depending on the lens you are using.

Write Times

We recorded 5 different write times with a SanDisk Ultra II 512 MB CF card:

Single Shot - The time that it takes for a single picture to be written completely 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.

 350D
 Setting  Resolution (pixels)  Average file size (MB)
JPEG (Large/Fine) 3456x2304 5.66
RAW 3456x2304 9.22

 20D
 Setting  Resolution (pixels)  Average file size (MB)
JPEG (Large/Fine) 3504x2336 5.13

   Single Shot  Shot To Shot  Shot To Shot w/Flash  Shot to Shot w/Buffer Full  Clear Buffer
350D (JPEG) 0.72 0.36 1.17 0.99 5.78
20D (JPEG) 0.69 0.41 1.14 0.94 14.22
350D (RAW) 1.34 0.36 1.62 1.47 6.44

It is clear by looking at the table above that the 350D and the 20D perform nearly the same when it comes to cycle times and writing JPEG images. The 350D is able to write a single 5.66 MB JPEG file in just 0.72 sec. When shooting without the flash, the camera takes just 0.36 sec. between frames. With the flash enabled, the 350D takes 1.17 seconds between frames. In Continuous Drive mode, we were able to shoot 8 frames at 3.33 fps. Occasionally, the camera was able to take 10 frames instead of 8. The number of frames that you can achieve will depend largely on the speed of your media and the detail in your image (file size). We used a 512 MB Ultra II SanDisk CF card that is able to write images at 60x (9 MB per second). With a faster card, you should be able to fit more frames in a burst because of the higher write speed. After we filled the buffer with 8 frames, the camera needed nearly a second (0.99 sec.) between frames. In order to clear the buffer of all 8 frames, the camera took 5.78 seconds.

When we shot images with the 350D in RAW mode, the results were very impressive as well. It takes just 1.34 sec. to write a single 9.22 MB RAW file. We found the same 0.36 sec. shot-to-shot time in RAW mode. With the flash enabled, the camera took 1.62 sec. between frames. When we set the camera to Continuous Drive mode, it took 5 frames at 3.42 fps. Again, the number of frames that you can take in one burst will depend on file size and the speed of your flash media. With the buffer full, the 350D took 1.47 seconds between additional frames. The 350D took 6.44 seconds to flush the full buffer out to the flash card. Unfortunately, we don't have comparison numbers for the 20D in RAW mode because in our 20D review, we had the 20D set to RAW +Small/Normal JPEG and the 350D doesn't have this option.

Overall, the 350D is incredibly fast at processing images. This is thanks to the DIGIC II image processor (same as the 20D). Unfortunately, we couldn't get our hands on the original Rebel to make a direct comparison and our testing methods have changed a bit since our original review of the 300D. For a good idea of how the 350D would compare to the 300D, take a look at our 20D VS 10D timing table. The 10D has the same image processor as the 300D and therefore, has a very similar performance.

Battery Performance Resolving Fine Lines
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  • 6000SUX - Sunday, May 08, 2005 - link

    Thanks for a great review. Based on this one, I went to some other sites like dpreview.com, checked out lots of sample pictures etc. against competitors like the D70 and decided to take the plunge. All I can say is, this camera's fantastic. It's easy even for a relative newbie like me to get up to speed and take really great pictures.

    Now I have a great camera with which to take pictures of my first child. Thanks again.
    Reply
  • stephencaston - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    #23, Unfortunately, since the digicam section is still relatively new, we don't have a lot of places to get products right now (lenses). We have been able to do Canon SLR reviews simply because we already have lenses. Don't worry, we are planning on covering the new Nikon DSLRs as soon as we can get them.

    Stephen
    Reply
  • sgtroyer - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    I've got to add to the calls for a Nikon DSLR review. It's a pretty glaring omission given the reviews of the Canon 300D, 20D, and 350D, but no Nikon. The D70 is a fantastic camera, far better than the 300D for marginally more money. The D50 will provide even better value. Isn't reviewing only Canon DSLRs sort of like reviewing only Nvidia GPU's or Intel processors? Reply
  • stephencaston - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    Keep in mind that this isn't a "real world" battery test. We literally sat down with the camera and took 3,818 frames in one session. Reply
  • Ender78 - Thursday, May 05, 2005 - link

    The battery life stated here seems to be a little off. I will have to test, but I dont believe my camera has anywhere close to the stated battery life. Reply
  • gplracer - Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - link

    Nice review. I decided on the 20D over the 350 because of the size, feel, and the controls. The wheel in the back of the 20D is so much better than the controls on the 350. I am sure picture quality is close. Reply
  • brownba - Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - link

    even my sd300 has this 'rattle.'
    i too assume it's for determining position.
    that's the coolest thing - when you're in clock mode, if you swiftly move the camera, it will change the color of the clock.
    Reply
  • shuttleboi - Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - link

    From what I've read, the viewfinder on the XT is even smaller than the tiny one I have on my 300D. I also own a Canon film SLR, and the viewfinder in that is freaking huge compared to the one in my 300D. When you have a wide-aperture lens (larger than f2.8), then you will want a large viewfinder to see if you are focusing correctly, otherwise it is very easy to get the focus plane locked with the narrow depth of field. Reply
  • shuttleboi - Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - link

    #13: if the XT is like my 300D, then that rattling sound is the part of the camera that determines if you are holding the camera vertically or horizontally. It is normal.
    Reply
  • STaSh - Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - link

    No idea...I have a 20d. Reply

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