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Compact Camera with Least Shutter Lag

Lobalobo Isben , Nov 06, 2008; 11:05 a.m.

My brother-in-law currently shoots with a Nikon Coolpix 5100 and he complains about the shutter lag (by which he means to include auto-focus delay). His complaint is consistent withe the review of the camera on DPReview and so he asked me what compact camera he could buy (about the same size as the P5100) that would shoot as fast as the Nikon D40 DSLR he has borrowed. I told him that I did not think any compact camera would shoot as fast as even an entry-level DSLR, but I'd try to find out. Any ideas? (He isn't concerned about subtle differences of image quality, Canon v. Nikon v. Fuji, e.g., and I imagine that any fast compact will be high end and have IQ that would satisfy him.) Thanks in advance.


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John Schroeder , Nov 06, 2008; 11:10 a.m.

Sony and Casio are the fastest I've seen. The speed comes with a price though. The Casio's tend to miss-focus occasionally. In the setup menu of the Casio's you can turn off the "quick snap" feature and the become very accurate but they sacrifice speed. The faster a camera focuses the greater the chance for error.

Bill Tuthill , Nov 06, 2008; 01:12 p.m.

Nowadays it is a moot point. The Canon A590 costs only $140 and has full-press shutter lag of .51 second wide, .70 at full telephoto. Many Sony models are faster, but they take non-standard memory. I suggest you ask your brother-in-law for more selection criteria. The Nikon D40 is certainly fast but it does not support the majority of Nikon lenses.

Charles Becker , Nov 06, 2008; 03:03 p.m.

re Sony-I have been playing with a Sony DSC-W130 (8 MP) today and the shutter lag is not bad at all for a point-and-shoot and the image quality is very good; as mentioned however, the memory card is "non-standard" in that it uses a memory stick rather than compact flash or secure digital cards. Both Sony and San Disc make memory sticks (and perhaps others as well) but it means that they cannot be used on other brands of camera-the only downside. cb :-)

Lobalobo Isben , Nov 06, 2008; 03:21 p.m.

Thanks to all; I'll take a look at the suggestions and let my brother-in-law know. (He doesn't own a DSLR, by the way; he borrowed one.)

Kevin Parratt , Nov 07, 2008; 05:10 a.m.

The 0.51 and 0.71 lag times mentioned (mentioned by Bill Tuthill above) can be an absolute life time when it comes to 'seizing the moment'. I could refer you any number of famous, iconic images from the history of photography, which could never have been 'seized' using cameras with such a handicap. They could only have been made with the instant response provided by rangefinder Leica and similar film cameras, and in fact were.

For starters, do a Google Images search on Henri Cartier Bresson and/or Robert Capa.

Tasks I reserve for digital work mostly involve static subjects.

Lobalobo Isben , Nov 07, 2008; 09:52 a.m.

Thanks, Kevin. Interestingly, some ultracompacts, the Sony for example, have lags of .15, but not the more sophisticated compacts. Not sure why. Anyway, compacts aside, isn't a DSLR essentially as fast as a film SLR?

Bill Tuthill , Nov 07, 2008; 01:59 p.m.

Who says film cameras were fast? My Yashica T4 Super took > 1 second to autofocus. However the Canon G2 was the worst autofocusing camera I've used, mostly because the shutter lag seemed totally unpredictable. At least with the T4 Super, I could anticipate.

The Nikon D40 has shutter lag of .26 second, according to imaging-resource.com, longer than the unknown Sony model mentioned above.

Dean G , Nov 07, 2008; 05:56 p.m.

Ricoh compacts like the GX, GX8, current GX100/200, and GR digitals are very fast cameras AF included. They also have a preset focus mode called "Snap" mode, which was a feature of the film GR1 also. This is set at 2.5m and with the large depth of field due to the small sensor focus is essentially taken out of the lag equation.

Lobalobo Isben , Nov 08, 2008; 09:14 p.m.

On the .26 second shutter lag for the D40, the relative delay my brother-in-law suggests, then, must be in AF. I'll look into the Ricoh. Thanks again.

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