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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  • hoppa - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    The SD300 is an awesome camera, but some note should be made of the very obvious artifacting in the resolution tests. The Canon may display slightly higher resolution than the Nikon, but that comes at a cost: the oversharping causes extreme moire and artifacting issues in very fine detail.

    Thank you for finally reviewing a top notch camera though!
    Reply
  • IceWindius - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    Meh, no thanks, I love my new A85 just fine and dandy. Reply
  • stephencaston - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    AtaStrumf, thanks for the suggestion. Its always sort of tricky finding something suitable for video samples. Believe it or not, sometimes its really hard to find something interesting to shoot. I'll venture more into the downtown scene next time ;-) Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    OK, read the review. Fabulous camera! A friend of mine has a Canon PS ELPH SD110 (3MP, 2x zoom)

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_...

    Also a nice camera, but the small lens size makes *S*Purple fringing (check spelling in your conclusion) a real pain in the you-know-where (not neck ;-). It shows up big and often, although SD300 seems to be a bit better.

    One complaint: a bad movie sample. Shoot something more interesting next time and not so far away and detailed (it really gets blurred-lost), because I don't think anybody will be making IMAX type of movies with it. Show a stroll along the beach, kids playing, fish, cats something close up, colorfull and moving.

    Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    Oh yea, I forgot to stress that the new stuff (lens and CCD sensor) are _THE_ most important features that can single-handedly make or break a camera.

    And just for those who don't know it yet: IXUS=ELPH (EU/US).

    And........, yep I think that's it.
    Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    Haven't read the review yet but I gotta say this right now anyway, because I just saw the pricetag on this IXUS and I already know it's not for me.

    Just today I was thinking that next time you guys put up a review I gotta ask you to review a Canon PowerShot A510 and/or A520. It may seem just like a A75/A85 in a new form factor, which I suppose it is, but it also has a new lens and there is some confusion about wheather or not both A510 and A520 use the same CCD sensor, so I'd really like to see a review before I buy, but I just can't find any, which is really odd, considering it looks like just the right combination of features and price, which should make it extremely popular choice.

    Please, please, please review this camera.

    Sorry about the stupid long sentence, but I think it conveys very well exactly what I wanted to say.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    Whew, that seems like the sort of camera I'll get if I fancy something better than my Minolta DiMAGE X20. Only downside I can see to the Canon is that it uses a proprietary battery rather than AA cells so I'd have to take the charger with me rather than simply taking a few sets of ready to use NiMH away with me, but I guess they couldn't have made the camera so small otherwise.

    Given the Canon's impressive movie capature ability, is there a limit to what size SD card the camera accepts? Will it take 1GB and the recently introduced 2GB SD cards? 640x480 @ 30fps MJPEG will eat the megabytes up pretty quickly, if the 320x240 @ 15fps MJPEG my camera can do is anything to go by.
    Reply
  • nels0360 - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    The SD300 is a great little camera. I bought one in December. It does have a couple of drawbacks though.

    In photos taken in low light, the photos occasionaly come out with a bright white "swirl" in the image. It is the flash refecting off of dust apparently. It is mentioned on the Canon website in the FAQ for this camera. This has ruined more than one of my photos.

    Also, as with many ultra-compacts, red-eye is a problem even with the red-eye reduction flash. There is just no avoiding it in some shots, but that is what Photoshop is for.

    If you get this camera, make sure to get the Canon leather case designed for it. It is incredibly small, comes in red or black and looks good to boot.
    Reply
  • ksherman - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    dont ell me we are russian into the Soviet jokes again...

    Great review, and a gret product! I defenitly want one of these suckas!
    Reply
  • Houdani - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    In Soviet Russia, Canons power shoot YOU! Reply

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