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Timing & Performance

In use the Coolpix 5200 feels fast and responsive most of the time, though sometimes the focus 'hunts' at the telephoto end of the zoom, taking the best part of a second and a half to find its mark. Shot to shot times (with and without flash) are impressive and scrolling through saved images is almost instantaneous (the camera uses low res previews to speed things up). The only (mild) disappointment - focus issues aside - is the rather sluggish start-up time, which is far from class-leading.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2592 x 1944 Super-Fine JPEG image (approx. 1,850 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 512MB SanDisk Extreme (aka Ultra II) SD card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record   3.9
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 5.4
Power: Record to Off Lens retracted and all activity ceased 1.3
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty ~0.2
Record Review Image displayed 0.9
Mode: Record to Play   ~0.6
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended ~0.7
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended 1.6
Play: Magnify To full magnification (6x) 4.4
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image (low res) ~0.2
Play: Image to Image Time to display full res image (allows zooming) 1.2
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 1.2

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 38 to 114 mm (3 x) 1.0
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle *1 ~0.7-1.0
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto*1 ~0.9-1.4
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view 0.2
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder 0.16
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle *2 ~1.2
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view 5.1
Shot to Shot Flash off 2.1
Shot to Shot Flash on 2.8
*1 The 5200's half press lag varies widely, so we have included a range instead of the usual average. The average figures are: Wide 0.84 secs, Tele 1.1 secs
*2 Again, this varies according to the focus speed, from around 0.8 to 1.4 seconds

Lag Timing Definitions

Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
 

(Prime AF/AE)
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
 

(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
 

(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)

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. Media used for these tests was a 512MB SanDisk Extreme (aka Ultra II) SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests. The 5 shot buffer mode offers around 2 frames per second at the top (5MP Fine) setting, but only saves the last five frames captured (when you take your finger off the shutter button). There does not seem to be a limit to how long you can shoot for in this mode, though of course you'll still only get five shots.

Continuous drive mode

In burst mode the Coolpix 5200 shows a brief review image for each frame taken.

Image Type
Mode
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
After
burst
*2
2592 x 1944 JEPG Fine Continuous 2.5 fps 9 stalls for ~2.7s
2592 x 1944 JPEG Normal Continuous 2.5 fps 9 stalls for ~2.7s
2048 x 1536 JEPG Fine Continuous 2.5 fps 90+ n/a *3
1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine Continuous 2.5 fps 90+ n/a *3

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release) until the buffer is full.
*2 With the shutter release held down.
*3 With a fast card it is impossible to fill the buffer at the 3MP setting and below. There is an occasional slowdown when shooting in these modes, but it isn't measurable. We measured the average frame rate over 100 exposures and found it fell to 2.33 fps, including slowdowns.

As is often the case with this kind of camera the only limitation on continuous shooting is the time taken to empty the buffer, which results in a brief delay during which pictures cannot be taken. That said the Coolpix 5200 is actually doing very well - 2.5 frames per second at full resolution is pretty impressive, and the buffer clear time of under 3 seconds is certainly better than many of its competitors. If you do want to take more than 9 shots in a burst all you need do is drop down to the 3MP setting and you can shoot away to your heart's content.

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 512MB SanDisk Extreme (aka Ultra II) SD card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
512MB Card
2592 x 1944 JEPG Fine 2.8 ~0.8 1,851 KB 178
2592 x 1944 JPEG Normal 2.8 ~0.8 1,149 KB 349
2048 x 1536 JEPG Fine 2.8 ~0.8 1,163 KB 282
1600 x 1200 JPEG Fine ~0.9 ~0.8 667 KB 451

*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.

Although the buffer is large enough for you to rarely experience any delay, the Coolpix 5200 takes just under 3 seconds to save each image - not bad at all, and better than many much more 'advanced' 5MP compacts.

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