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There is a similar question - including python - on stackoverflow with similar conclusion to Alexander's.

May be the benchmark what you mention is Shervin Emami's. To summarize he has created a speed comparison of C and C++ interface using different OpenCV versions. His conclusion is that the new C interface is slower than both the old C and the new C++. Moreover the new C++ interface is almost as fast as the old C interface. The slowness of the new C interface can be a consequence of the deprication, in other words the aim of the development is backward compatibility only and not performance.

So far I have used the C interface but as I see from the examples, the C++ part is more user friendly and cleaner.

Anyway the second edition of the really useful book, Learning OpenCV has just come out. As the subtitle (Computer Vision in C++ with the OpenCV Library) suggests it deals with C++ mainly.