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Timings & File Sizes

Overall the S304 was a good performer, its slowest function was power up, which is fairly normal for a camera with an extending lens. What's slightly curious though is that the actual lens extension only takes 1.2 seconds, the rest of the time is taken up with the camera 'thinking'. The lens extends no matter what mode you switch to.

Shuter lag and focus times were good slightly faster (certainly at telephoto) than its bigger brothers the DiMAGE 5 and 7. Shot to shot times are good if you disable instant playback and wait for the focus bracket to re-appear.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Supplied CF card (Lexar 8x 16 MB) was used for timings. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2048 x 1536 FINE JPEG image (approx. 1.1 MB per image).

Action Details Time taken
(seconds)
Notes
Power: Off to Record Lens always defaults to wide 5.8 Lens takes 1.2 secs *1
Power: Off to Play   5.1 Image is displayed
Power: Record to Off   4.1 Lens retract *2
Power: Play to Off   4.1 Lens retract *2
Mode: Record to Play   2.3 Image is displayed
Mode: Play to Record   1.5  
Play: Magnify To x2.0 3.1 *3
Play: Browse delay Delay between images ~0  
Rec: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 0.7  
Auto Focus LAG Wide focus mode 0.9 - 1.7 Average - Fast *4
Auto Focus LAG Selected AF area mode 0.8 - 1.7 Fast *4
Shutter Release LAG   0.1 Fast
Total LAG   1.0 - 2.0 Fast to Average
Off to Shot Taken   6.9 Average
Shot to Shot 2048 x 1536JPEG FINE 2.0 Very Fast *5

*1 There is a 2.6 second delay between turning the power dial to 'ON' and the lens beginning its extension.
*2 Power off takes 5.2 seconds if lens is at telephoto position.
*3 Subsequent zoom levels take approximately half a second.
*4 At either wide angle or telephoto with sufficent light. If auto focus can't lock it may take up to a second longer before the red dot appears.
*5 Instant playback disabled, must wait for focus brackets to re-appear before pressing shutter release otherwise shutter release is locked.


Continuous drive mode

The table below shows the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames at a selection of image resolution / quality settings and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take the next shot.

Image Type Frames per sec
Max no. of frames

Wait before
next shot
*1

2048 x 1536 FINE 1.4 fps 4 3 sec
2048 x 1536 STANDARD 1.2 fps 9 3 sec
1600 x 1200 STANDARD 1.0 fps 45 3 sec
1280 x 960 STANDARD ~1.0 fps - -
640 x 480 STANDARD ~1.0 fps - -

*1 You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background"). Timings taken using the supplied Nikon branded SanDisk CF card.

For some odd reason the S304 actually slowed down for smaller size (file size) images in continuous mode, however at anything less than 1600 x 1200 STANDARD the frame rate and write speed of the CF card 'broke even' which means you can just about shoot until the card is full (but only at one frame per second).


File Flush / Display Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the Compact Flash card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed (shutter click was heard) and stopped when activity indicator LED beside the storage compartment went out. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". Supplied CF card (Lexar 8x 16 MB) was used for timings.

Image Type Time to store
(seconds)
*1
Time to
magnify
(seconds)
*3
Approx.
File size
*4
Approx. images
on a 16 MB
Compact Flash card
2048 x 1536 S.FINE TIFF *2 24.2 n/a 6,254 KB 1
2048 x 1536 FINE 6.8 3.2 ~1,580 KB 9
2048 x 1536 STANDARD 5.6 2.7 ~810 KB 16
2048 x 1536 ECONOMY 5.0 2.2 ~540 KB 26
1600 x 1200 FINE 6.0 2.6 ~970 KB 15
1280 x 960 FINE 5.3 2.3 ~700 KB 22
640 x 480 FINE 4.5 1.8 ~250 KB 55

*1 Instant playback disabled. With instant playback enabled CF writing only starts once the playback image has been displayed, thus either 2 or 10 seconds after the image has been taken and processed.
*2 Screen is blank and camera is inoperative during writing period.
*3 The S304 displays all images almost instantly in 'browse' mode (pressing the 4-way controller left or right to view images), the only delay (actually reading the image) occurs if you press the magnify button. You can not magnify TIFF images.
*4 With JPEG it's difficult to predict the exact size of an image file because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.


Battery life

We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:

  • Take 4 shots without flash
  • Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
  • Take 1 shot with flash
  • Wait 1 minute
  • Repeat

All batteries had been fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:

Camera
Prosumer / SLR-Like
Battery Power Battery life Number of shots
Minolta DiMAGE 7 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 1 hr 14 mins 125
Minolta DiMAGE 5 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 1 hr 56 mins 195
Nikon Coolpix 5700 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 08 mins 215
Canon PowerShot S40 NB-2L 3.9 Wh 2 hr 13 mins 225
Minolta DiMAGE S304 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 18 mins 235
Canon PowerShot S45 NB-2L 3.9 Wh 2 hr 28 mins 240
Nikon Coolpix 4500 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 27 mins 250
Fujifilm FinePix 6900Z NP-80 4.1 Wh 2 hr 29 mins 250
Nikon Coolpix 990 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 30 mins 255
Nikon Coolpix 995 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 30 mins 255
Nikon Coolpix 5000 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 2 hr 32 mins 260
Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 33 mins 260
Canon PowerShot Pro1 BP-511A 10.2 Wh 2 hr 36 mins 265
Canon PowerShot S50 NB-2L 3.9 Wh 2 hr 39 mins 270
Minolta DiMAGE S404 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 39 mins 270
Sony DSC-V1 NP-FC11 2.8 Wh 2 hr 39 mins 270
Olympus C-7000 Zoom LI-12B 4.5 Wh 2 hr 44 mins 280
Nikon Coolpix 8700 EN-EL1 5.0 Wh 2 hr 45 mins 280
Minolta DiMAGE 7i 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 46 mins 270
Olympus E-20 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 2 hr 48 mins 285
Canon PowerShot G1 BP-511 8.1 Wh 3 hr 00 mins 300
Nikon Coolpix 5400 EN-EL1 4.8 Wh 3 hr 06 mins 315
HP Photosmart 850 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 3 hr 12 mins 325
Sony DSC-S75 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 3 hr 15 mins 330
Nikon Coolpix 8800 EN-EL7 8.1 Wh 3 hr 27 mins 350
Fujifilm FinePix S602Z 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 3 hr 29 mins 350
Canon PowerShot G2 BP-511 8.1 Wh 3 hr 32 mins 355
Casio QV-4000 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 3 hr 38 mins 365
Olympus C-5050 Zoom 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 3 hr 48 mins 380
Casio EXILIM EX-P700 NP-40 4.5 Wh 3 hr 48 mins 385
Sony DSC-S85 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 3 hr 50 mins 400
Sony DSC-F717 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 4 hr 02 mins 405
Pentax Optio 750Z D-LI7 6.6 Wh 4 hr 03 mins 415
Sony DSC-V3 NP-FR1 4.4 Wh 4 hr 05 mins 415
Nikon Coolpix 8400 EN-EL7 8.1 Wh 4 hr 09 mins 420
Sony DSC-F707 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 4 hr 20 mins 440
Fujifilm S7000 Zoom 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 4 hr 23 mins 445
Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2 NP-400 11.1 Wh 4 hr 26 mins 450
Canon PowerShot G3 BP-511 8.1 Wh 4 hr 32 mins 455
Canon PowerShot G5 BP-511 8.1 Wh 4 hr 33 mins 460
Pentax Optio 550 D-LI7 6.6 Wh 4 hr 36 mins 465
Minolta DiMAGE A1 NP-400 11.1 Wh 5 hr 02 mins 515
Leica Digilux 2 BP-DC1-E 10.1 Wh 5 hr 05 mins 515
Sony DSC-F828 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 5 hr 28 mins 540
Fujifilm FinePix S5000 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 5 hr 31 mins 555
Canon PowerShot G6 BP-511A 10.3 Wh 5 hr 38 mins 570
Olympus C-8080 WZ BLM-1 10.8 Wh 5 hr 52 mins 595
Other test notes:
 • LCD monitor is left on during the battery test
 • The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
 • There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
    comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set

About what we've come to expect of AA powered digital cameras, approximately 2.5 hours. Interesting to note that the S304 did considerably better than its bigger brother the DiMAGE 7. It also got less hot (although still warm).

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