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. 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.

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 Nikon Coolpix 4100 takes 4.02 seconds to power on and take a shot when startup sounds are disabled. This time slows to 4.58 with the startup sound enabled. In comparison to similar models that we have reviewed, the Nikon 4100 seems quite leisurely in its startup operation.

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. 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

Compared to the competition, the Nikon 4100 does very well with regard to shutter lag. The camera has a lag of just 0.09 sec. when it is pre-focused. When we include focusing time, the 4100 comes out on top with a time of 0.55 sec. In short, we are very impressed with its shutter lag performance.

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 written completely 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, 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 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)
Nikon 4100 2288x1712 High 1.34
Canon SD300 2272x1704 Superfine 2.33
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.

The Nikon 4100 takes a somewhat average 1.90 seconds between shots without the flash. When the flash is enabled, shooting slows to a very slow 12.07 seconds between shots. In our test, the camera takes 4 or 5 frames at 1.65 fps in Continuous drive mode. Then, the camera slows to 3.54 seconds between shots. When the buffer is full, it takes nearly 10 seconds (9.99) to clear the images out to the flash card. The number of frames that the camera can take in Continuous mode will vary depending on the file size.

Battery Performance Resolving Fine Lines


View All Comments

  • lopri - Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - link



  • g33k - Monday, July 18, 2005 - link

    A very thorough review. Thanks! Reply
  • cholm - Monday, April 18, 2005 - link

    Pardons for continuing the OT thread...

    "Barf" is Farsi for "snow", and a popular brand of laundry detergent and shampoo available at any corner store in Iran. In the same vein, a "barfi" is the guy who shovels the snow off of your roof.
  • MrCoyote - Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - link

    I was looking at Nikon, but bought a Kodak DX7440 instead. This gives you a good lens which has very little barrel distortion compared to all Nikon point and shoot. Plus manual settings for EVERYTHING and near instant shutter response, that Nikon's line lacks.

    The only bad thing about P&S cameras, are the 4:3 ratio of the pictures. I'd rather 35mm film ratio of 3:2, like all SLR cameras got.
  • stephencaston - Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - link

    #10: Yep it's real, but I can't remember what country it's from ;-) Reply
  • Jigga - Monday, March 14, 2005 - link

    BARF detergent powder? Where do you get that--please tell me its a novelty gag and not an actual brand!!! Reply
  • skrivis - Monday, March 14, 2005 - link

    Camera reviews...

    Epinions is worthwhile sometimes, and as someone else mentioned, dcresource is good. Another one I found valuable is Steve's Digicams (
  • skrivis - Monday, March 14, 2005 - link

    The Canon A75/A510 and A85/A520 were models I had considered, and I was all set to purchase an A85 after the 520 was released and the prices on the A85 dropped significantly.

    However, the Nikon Coolpix 5400 was just too good a deal to pass up. :-)

    Magnesium case, 5.1 MP, ED lens, flash hotshoe, LCD screen that swivels, diopter adjustment for the viewfinder... it's a level above any of the Canon 75/85/95 etc. models.

    There are only two drawbacks to the 5400 (and some other Nikons).

    One is that it takes a Li-ion battery pack. You can also use a standard Lithium disposable battery in an emergency. The good thing is that other companies make replacement packs that are cheaper than Nikon's. I was against this type of pack and wanted a camera that takes AA cells. I decided I can bend a little since the 5400 has so much else to offer.

    The other drawback is the lack of an auto-focus helper light for low-light conditions. It hasn't proved to be a problem yet, and I plan to get a cheap LED pointer and use that if needed.

  • AtaStrumf - Saturday, March 12, 2005 - link

    hoppa here is one review of Canon A510/520 I have been able to dig up:

    I seems that A520 is a total waste of money since quality is not improved and due to larger files it is a bit slower and it even has more noise, so it's A510 all the way. I bought one and I am very happy with it. LOVE the all manual controls and it's very snappy.

    Even movies are much better than I expected from 320x240@15 FPS up to 3 mins. Perfectly OK for goofying around, since this is primarily a still and not a movie camera. Even so it still puts this Nikon to shame.

    Lens is a bit soft in corners at wider apertures, so I use Aperture Value at 5.5 to 7.1 and the quality is great.

    Overall I think it is _the_ best camera for the money, I'm just having some strange problems when the camera refuses to shoot with flash and then tells me to change the batteries and turns off even though the batteries are far from depleted and even new fresh from the charger don't help. It happened twice in two weeks since I have it and is very annoying, since it comes out of the blue and disappears as mysteriously as it appears. Thankfully I bought it at a local camera shop so RMAing it will be easy.
  • hoppa - Saturday, March 12, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the review. You guys should really review the new Canon A510/520. From what I've seen they (at least the 510) blow everything else in the price range away. Compared to the entry-level Nikons, they offer full manual controls, longer lenses and much sharper pictures. Certainly seems like a better choice to me. Reply

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