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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  • ElFenix - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    your title is funny

    best [class] camera in its class?

    =)

    nice review, otherwise. i really want a small camera for parties, etc. my S40 takes up too much space in my pocket, along with my cell phone.
    Reply
  • TrueWisdom - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    I'm of the opinion that the Casio EXILIM series are better cameras than these. I have the Z-55 and it's the speediest 5MP ultracompact I've come in contact with. I'd like to see Anandtech do a review of the Z-40, Z-50, Z-55, and the EX-S100 to see how they stack up. Reply
  • drwho9437 - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    Quasi review:

    I have an SD200 which is the same camera apart from the sensor, (3.2 instead of 4, save 100 dollars). Things to note about the SDX00 series (new 400, and 500 were introduced).

    Firstly, there are more CAs then the average digital (purple fringing), quite alot of it looks to be blooming (ie leakage charging). The lens is definatly soft in the corners, this seems to be the most distrubing when you have something with random high detail, ie tree branches, but not so bad when you have uniform high detail, say grass.

    These cameras are said not to have an aperture, instead, they are said to have a ND filter, to cut the light in half. There have been some comments that corner softness in lessed when the camera decides to shoot at a high "aperture" but I have not confired them. The camera itself does not display the shutter speed or aperture even in review mode so its difficult to do that test.

    On the flipside I did notice corner softness decrease as focal length increased (probably because that really works like an aperture, it uses just the center of the lens at tele), so if you want a really sharp picture of something standback and zoom in. (I never thought I'd say that).

    The video mode is good, but you'll need a fast SD card to do it at 640X480 30fps consistently. The one I have is borderline, and depends what I am taking it of, a little ! warns the buffer is getting full. However 320X240 modes always works for those really long videos at need, if your card ends up not being quite fast enough.

    So it is clear I got this camera, so that I would always have a camera with me, I have SLRs for the good stuff, I new about most of the issues I mentioned before I got it, most of them can be worked around.

    The highest prase I can give it is I didn't return it.
    Reply
  • Souka - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    I have a Canon S300 (over 3 years old...) and I'm looking to replace it.

    I really really like the S410, but once I saw the SD300 I was hooked, the DigiII chip speed rocks.

    Well alomst hooked.... The point of a camera is to take pictures....good pictures in my opinion.

    The SD300 does a good job, but the flare from flashes and the purple fringing are horrible. I've compared side-by-side shots of my S300 to the SD300. My old S300 takes MUCH better pictures despite 1/2 the resolution (and twice the weight and size!.....but if I wanted to enlarge a print...to lets say 8x10...the SD300 is better.

    I guess the S410 is my best option for now.... I'll live with the puny LCD and useless video mode....it's a camera damnit, not a vide camera.

    Anyhow.... maybe the SD310 will be better? (A guess)

    Cheers....

    Reply
  • stephencaston - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    #12, I agree with #14. Unless you really need the extra MP, I would go with the SD300 for its speed. If you really want a 5 MP ultra-compact, it might be worth waiting until the SD400 becomes available. Reply
  • R3MF - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    @ #6

    cheers, i didn't know that. :)
    Reply
  • tyipengr - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    Sorry for the blank post earlier...

    #12-

    I considered the same two cameras before ultimately purchasing the SD300. The speed of the Digic II, the vastly superior movie mode, and the 2-in. LCD got me at the end. I personally do not edit pictures very much so the extra 1-MP isn't as important to me. 4 MP is enough for 8x10s which is the largest I will ever blow up a pic.

    Reply
  • tyipengr - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • brownba - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    Stephen: I'm looking to buy a camera for my wedding this summer. I'm sure it'll be one of the canon elph's. The S500 is almost the same price as this SD300, which would you recommend? or just in general, which ultra-compact would you recommend? Reply
  • sxr7171 - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    I have this camera and it probably is the top digital camera in its size class. There are some downsides to having such a small camera especially with regard to the purple fringing, and some of the graininess in night shots (due to the tiny photosensor), but it has some crazy attributes that make an amazing camera. One is the unreal speed of this thing. It is ready to take pictures within a second of turning on and it takes pictures with almost no delay at all when already powered on. It also has unreal battery life. I tested it once at home by taking 50% flash shots continuously in rapid-fire mode and it took over 1700 shots before the battery died. These things make it almost flawless for its main purpose - to take a bunch of casual pictures when on vacation without worrying about the battery dying and to get the shot you want without losing it while the camera is still trying to focus/turn on/bring the lens out etc.


    Does anyone know if there is a way to reduce the oversharping though? I'm not too happy about that. I know the Digital Rebel comes with sharpness set a little high by default but they allow you to reduce back to the EOS-10D/20D default levels.
    Reply

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