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 (JPEG). It is set to record in Auto mode. All sounds were disabled. We used a Sandisk Ultra II 512 MB CompactFlash card.

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.

   Time (seconds)
Welcome screen enabled 4.77
Welcome screen disabled 4.31

When the "Welcome screen" was enabled, the Coolpix 8400 took a time of 4.77 seconds to start up and take a picture. By disabling the "Welcome screen", the camera is able to start up in a faster time of 4.31 seconds. We are not terribly impressed with either of these times. They are a bit longer than average for cameras with extending lenses.

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 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. For more information regarding our testing procedures, please refer to our Testing Procedures page.

 Pre-focused Lag (seconds)
0.07

 Full Shutter Lag
 Hybrid AF/Quick Response  Time (seconds)
Off/Off 0.72
Off/On 0.49
On/On 0.53
On/Off 0.56

When we pre-focused the camera, the shutter lag was an impressive 0.07 sec. Given the numerous possibilities for variations in full shutter lag, we ran 4 tests. With each test, we either had the Auto AF area mode On or Off. When Auto area mode is On, the hybrid AF is disabled automatically. In addition, we altered the Quick Response setting in the Set-up menu to measure the effect. As you might expect, the slowest time was when we disabled both the Hybrid AF and Quick Response (0.72 sec.). The rest of the times were fairly close between 0.49 and 0.56. As the numbers indicate, the Coolpix 8400 has the least lag when the Quick Response option is enabled. We recommend turning the Quick Response option on and sacrificing the difference in the quality of the live preview (the actual image quality is unaffected).

Write Times

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

Single Shot - The time that it takes for a single picture to be completely written to the flash card.
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, starting from the moment that the first flash is fired to the moment that the second is fired.
Shot To Shot w/Buffer Full - The time between taking the last shot of a continuous burst 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.

* Because the Coolpix 8400 does not have an activity light, the "Single Shot" and "Clear Buffer" times were recorded starting from the close of the last shutter and ending with the disappearance of the card icon.

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)
JPEG 3264x2448 EXTRA 5.73
TIFF 3264x2448 HI 22.89
NEF 3264x2448 RAW 12.00

   Single Shot  Shot To Shot  Shot to Shot w/Flash  Shot to Shot w/Buffer Full  Clear Buffer
JPG 5.16 2.51 8.50 5.47 22.17
TIFF 17.85 18.18 21.32 N/A N/A
RAW 14.81 8.54 18.56 40.81 68.47

With the highest quality JPEG setting, the Coolpix 8400 takes 2.51 seconds between shots. By the 5th shot, the camera slows to 4.90 seconds between shots. When the flash is used, the camera needs 8.50 seconds between shots. In Continuous H mode, the camera can shoot 5 frames at 2.77 fps before slowing to 5.47 seconds between shots. To fully clear the buffer of 5 frames, it takes 22.17 seconds.

Given the enormous size of TIFF files, we were not too surprised by the 18.18 seconds required between each shot. When the flash is enabled, this cycle time slows to 21.32 seconds. In RAW mode, the camera needs 8.54 seconds between each shot and 18.56 seconds between flash shots. In Continuous H mode, the 8400 can capture 5 RAW frames at 2.71 fps before slowing to 40.81 seconds between shots. To clear the entire buffer of 5 frames, it takes 68.47 seconds.

In general, we weren't really impressed with the cycle times of the 8400. Even a shot-to-shot speed of 2.51 seconds in JPEG mode isn't very good; we really expected a faster cycle time with the JPEG setting. Finally, the Continuous H mode is relatively decent at ~2.7 fps. However, with the time that it takes to clear the buffer (especially in RAW mode), the usefulness of the burst mode is diminished.

Battery Performance Resolving Fine Lines
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  • pigdog - Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - link

    The return of the hairy hand! Reply
  • ShinGouki - Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - link

    Oops I've noticed its Mr Caston that is the author of the review sorry for the mistaken identity. Reply
  • ShinGouki - Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - link

    That you playing the guitar in those clips Anand?

    Don't suppose there's any hope you feel like starting a section on consumer to semi pro level audio recording hardware / software eg M-audio Audiophile or Terratecs DMX fire type cards not that Creative rubbish. Be nice to have anandtech quality reviews on that type of product and who knows might even cause them to release less buggy drivers if they are under more scrutiny.

    *sorry for being totally off topic :), in other news its nice to see you continue with the camera reviews*
    Reply

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