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Timing & Performance

Most aspects of the P850's operation feel pretty responsive - unless you like shooting TIFF files (which our tests show to be virtually identical to fine quality JPEGs), when the shot-to-shot time of around 20 seconds puts a serious strain on your patience. The only real issue is focus speed in low light, especially at the long end of the zoom, when 'hunting' can extend the focus time to 2 seconds - or longer if there's inadequate contrast in the scene. The slow (and sometimes unreliable) focus in low light is - along with the incredibly annoying need for the camera to refocus whenever you move the zoom even a tiny amount - by far the biggest problem you'll find when shooting with the P850.

Timing Notes

All times are calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2592 x 1944 JPEG image (approx. 2,460 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record   3.5
Power: Off to Play cannot power up directly into playback mode n/a
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 3.3
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty, lens extended 3.2
Record Review Image displayed ~0.8
Mode: Record to Play   ~0.3
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended ~1.1 
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) 4.4 
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image ~0.2
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 1.0

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 36 to 432 mm (12 x) 2.7
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle ~0.5
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~0.6 - 2.0 *1
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~0.1
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder ~0.1
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.7
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view ~3.7
Shot to Shot Flash off 1.4*2
Shot to Shot Flash on (with red eye reduction off) 1.8*2
Shot to Shot Flash on (with red eye reduction on) 2.8*2

*1 Due to the wide variation in focus times at telephoto we have included a range, rather than an average figure. The focus speed is directly linked to the brightness of the scene, and is slowest in low light. Note also the best focus speeds are obtained using continuous AF mode
*2 This includes focus time and is the very best shot-to-shot time you can expect when the buffer is empty (up to around 5 frames).

Continuous mode

The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. The media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/160 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

The P850 has two 'burst' modes. The standard mode shoots at around 2fps - the number of pictures you can record depends on the file size/quality setting chosen - or you can choose 'Last Burst' mode, which shoots continuously until you take your finger off the shutter, when the last five frames (5MP Fine JPEG) are saved. The last burst mode averages around half the frame rate of the standard burst mode, and the number of frames saved is the same (as shown below).

Image Type
Mode
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
After
burst
*2
2592 x 1944 (5MP) JPEG Fine First Burst 2.0 fps 5 ~2.8s delay *3
2592 x 1944 (5MP) JPEG Std First Burst 2.0 fps 8 ~2.8s delay *3
2592 x 1944 (5MP) JPEG Basic First Burst 2.1 fps 12 ~2.8s delay *3 
2048 x 1536 (3.1MP) JPEG Fine First Burst 2.0 fps 7 ~2.8s delay *3
2048 x 1536 (3.1MP) JPEG Std First Burst 2.1 fps 12 ~2.8s delay *3
1664 x 1248 (2.1MP) JPEG Fine First Burst 2.1 fps 10 ~2.8s delay *3
1664 x 1248 (2.1MP) JPEG Std First Burst 2.1 fps 17 ~2.8s delay *3

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).
*2 Once the buffer is full the P850 freezes for around 2.8 seconds as the images are saved to the SD card. During this time no further pictures can be taken.
*3 This is how long you have to wait before another single shot can be taken. If you want to take another burst you need to wait for the buffer to clear completely, which takes around 6 to 9 seconds..

A significant improvement on the last Kodak super zoom camera we tested (the Z740) - the burst mode is perfectly usable, and not at all bad for a camera at this price point.

File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
1.0GB Card
2592 x 1944 (5MP) TIFF ~19.0 ~0.2 (4.0) *3 14,821 KB 63
2592 x 1944 (5MP) RAW ~6.5 ~0.2 (3.3) *3 8,745 KB 109
2592 x 1944 (5MP) JPEG Fine ~2.7 ~0.2 (1.0) *3 2,460 KB 284
2592 x 1944 (5MP) JPEG Std ~1.9 ~0.2 (0.7) *3 1,245 KB 507
2592 x 1944 (5MP) JPEG Basic ~1.7 ~0.2 (0.6) *3 810 KB 826
2048 x 1536 (3.1MP) JPEG Fine ~2.2 ~0.2 (0.8) *3 1,650 KB 473
1664 x 1248 (2.1MP) JPEG Fine ~1.6 ~0.2 (0.4) *3 735 KB 696

*1 All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).
*2 Camera estimation.
*3 The P850 uses low res preview images to allow fast scrolling. The time in brackets is how long it takes for the full image to be loaded (so you can view shooting information and magnify or edit the image).

Again it's nice to see that Kodak has given the P850 a serious speed boost over previous generation big zoom models, and - aside from the huge tiff files - there's little cause for complaint here. The write speed - around 1.3 MB/s - is pretty standard for a camera in this class, but is a long way from the maximum speed of the card, and unless you intend to shoot a lot of extended movie clips I wouldn't worry about buying the fastest card you can.

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