The Timing Tests

* NOTE: For all of our time tests, both cameras were reset to their factory default settings and set to record in Program AE mode. The 20D was set to Parameter Set 2 which is equivalent to the Standard parameter on the 10D. A SanDisk Ultra II 512MB CompactFlash card was used.

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

Startup Time

The startup time is recorded from the moment the power button is pushed to the moment the shutter sounds. The cameras were set to startup record in Auto mode.

 Startup time (seconds)
20D 0.23
10D 2.39

The startup time is where you can really begin to see where Canon made its major improvements over the 10D. The 20D is able to start up and take a picture in just 0.23 sec., while it takes the 10D 2.39 sec. to do the same thing. This means that there is no waiting around while the camera boots up to take a picture. Essentially, by the time you have taken off the lens cap or raised the camera to your eye, the 20D is ready to go. The improved startup time alone makes this camera feel so much more responsive than the 10D.

Shutter Lag

To record shutter lag, we perform two tests. For the first test, we pre-focus the lens and measure the amount of time it takes the camera to take a picture after the shutter button is pressed. The second test measures the time 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. For the 20D and 10D, we set the cameras to Shutter speed priority at 1/500th sec. For more information regarding our testing procedures, please refer to our Testing Procedures page.

   With Pre-focus (seconds)  Without Pre-focus (seconds)
20D 0.09 0.23
10D 0.09 0.24

Not surprisingly, the shutter lag on both the 20D and 10D are about the same. They both have a very reasonable pre-focused lag of 0.09 seconds. Without half-pressing the shutter, they both showed very fast performance. The 20D had a lag of 0.23 sec. and the 10D had a lag of 0.24 sec. The difference between these two times is negligible at 0.01 sec.

Write Times

We recorded 5 different write times with a Sandisk Ultra II 512 MB Compact Flash card:

Single Shot - The time it takes for a single picture to be completely written to the flash card (the time 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 it takes for the camera to take two pictures with the flash from the first flash to the second. The camera is 10 ft. from the subject.
Shot To Shot w/Buffer Full - The time between taking the last shot of a continuous burst to the moment the shutter sounds again.
Clear Buffer - The time 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.

 Setting  Resolution (pixels)  Average file size (MB)
JPEG (Large/Fine) 3504x2336 5.13
RAW +Small/Normal JPEG 3504x2336 10.30

 Setting  Resolution (pixels)  Average file size (MB)
JPEG (Large/Fine) 3072x2048 4.41
RAW +Small/Normal JPEG 3072x2048 7.66

   Single Shot  Shot To Shot  Shot To Shot w/Flash  Shot to Shot w/Buffer Full  Clear Buffer
20D (JPEG) 0.69 0.41 1.14 0.94 14.22
20D (RAW) 1.66 0.42 1.17 2.08 10.09
10D (JPEG) 2.54 0.41 1.03 4.95 33.91
10D (RAW) 5.04 0.43 1.12 8.57 59.94

The write times are where we can see that the 20D has a distinct advantage over the 10D. Even though the file size of both the JPEG and RAW files of the 20D are larger than those from the 10D, it is able to write them in a significantly shorter time. The 20D can write a Large/Fine JPEG in just 0.69 sec. while it takes the 10D 2.54 seconds. Additionally, the 20D can write a RAW +Small/Normal JPEG in just 1.66 seconds where it takes the 10D 5.04 seconds.

When it comes to Shot to Shot times, the 20D and 10D are very similar until they reach their buffer limits. The 20D has a Shot to Shot time of 0.41 sec. for 16 Large/Fine JPEG frames before slowing to 1.15 sec between shots. However, the 10D is only able to shoot at 0.41 sec. between frames for 9 frames before slowing to 4.99 sec. between shots. In RAW mode, the 20D has a Shot to Shot time of 0.42 sec. until the buffer fills after 6 frames. Then, shooting slows to 2.13 sec. between shots. The 10D has a Shot to Shot time of 0.43 sec for 9 RAW frames before slowing to 9.99 sec. between shots.

For Shot to Shot w/Flash images, the 10D was just a bit faster. The 20D shot JPEG images at 1.14 sec. between shots while the 10D shot them at 1.03 sec. In RAW mode, the 20D took 1.17 sec. between shots while the 10D took 1.12 sec. The difference here is so small that most people are unlikely to notice it.

The 20D has a huge advantage over the 10D in its continuous drive capability. In our test, the 20D alternated between taking 15 and 16 Large/Fine JPEG frames in a burst at 5.17 fps. After the last frame, the camera slowed to 0.94 seconds between frames. In contrast, the 10D can shoot 9 JPEG frames at 3.2 fps. It then slows to 4.95 seconds between shots. In RAW mode, the 20D is able to shoot 6 frames at 5.5 fps before slowing to 2.08 seconds between frames. The 10D can shoot 9 RAW images at 3.17 fps before slowing to 8.57 seconds between shots.

To make the 20D's speed advantage even clearer, the 20D can empty 79.5 MB of JPEG images from its buffer in just 14.22 seconds while it takes the 10D more than twice as long (33.91 seconds) to clear half the data (39.7 MB). In continuous RAW mode, the 20D can clear 61.8 MB of images in just 10.09 seconds while the 10D clears 68.9 MB in nearly a minute (59.94 seconds).

Not only is the 20D faster at writing its files, but it can also write in circumstances that the 10D can't. For example, the 10D will not write files if the shutter button is pressed halfway down (unless the buffer is entirely full). The 20D is able to write files with the shutter button halfway pressed in all situations. Also, unlike the 10D, you are able to access menu options while the camera is writing to the CF card. On the 10D, you will see a "busy" screen until all files are written before you can even get into the menu. The same applies for reviewing images.

Battery Performance Resolving Fine Lines


View All Comments

  • maxusa - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

    This is a professional DSLR, not prosumer. The only prosumer attribute of the 20D might be price of the body. But even this is highly questionable if one factors in lens(es). I recommend you change this misleading assertion. Reply
  • Mday - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

    Hmm, I would have liked to see an accessory list:
    "All" EF lenses
    EF-S lenses
    battery grip

    Overall, dpreview forums provide much better insite into the camera from users of cameras.

    Without a forum attached to digital imaging, questions and comments to anandtech forums are lost to the billions of posts in general hardware.
  • stephencaston - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the comment and good suggestion. We will include this info in future reviews. Reply
  • Gatak - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

    Nice article =) the D20 is cirtanly on my wishlist.

    There are things I'd like to see for future photography /image quality tests. You should mention the colour profile and gamma settings for the images that you use.

    A uncalibrated CRT monitor (the default Windows and Linux user) will use a gamma close to 2.5 instead of the sRGB of about 2.2. Unless the user has compensated the gamma shift on their system using tools like Adobe Gamma or xgamma these pictures will look much to dark.

    I have illustrated the difference on this image:

    It should be viewed on a sRGB monitor or in a application that can simulate sRGB on your monitor (like Photoshop)

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