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Timings & File Sizes

The Coolpix 5400's startup time proved to be relatively quick, this no doubt thanks to the fast extending lens system. Shot to Shot times (without changing settings) were also very respectable, just under two seconds. Auto Focus wasn't particularly fast, certainly no better than the Coolpix 5000. There were also several strange issues related to its performance:

  • If you leave the shutter release sound enabled (factory default) shutter release lag is approximately 0.3 seconds versus 0.1 seconds with it disabled
     
  • If you disable the record review display (review image after shutter release) the camera write times are actually slower than with it enabled (the opposite of what you would expect)
     
  • Poor buffering and slow write speeds left the camera feeling unresponsive and sluggish at times (see File Write / Display and Sizes below) - affects shutter release

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,400 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 256 MB Viking CF card.

Action Details Time, seconds
Power: Off to Record Lens extension 3.9
Power: Off to Play *1 Image displayed 3.2
Power: Record to Off Lens extended 2.4
Power: Play to Off Lens already retracted 0.1
Mode: Record to Play *1 Image displayed 1.1
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended 2.1
Play: Magnify To 6x magnification 2.8
Play: Thumbnail view 2 x 2 image index 0.9
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 image index 1.4

Action Details Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele Full zoom from 28 mm to 116 mm (4 x) 1.7
Auto Focus LAG Wide angle 0.9 - 1.2
Auto Focus LAG Telephoto 1.0 - 2.0
Shutter Release LAG *3 Using Viewfinder 0.1
Shutter Release LAG *3 Using LCD Monitor 0.1
Total LAG Wide angle ~1.0
Total LAG Telephoto ~1.4
Off to Shot Taken Wide angle 4.8
Shot to Shot Wide angle 1.9

*1 The Coolpix 5400 uses a 'rough image' to provide the initial image display, this is replaced by a finer image once the camera has loaded all image data from the Compact Flash card. For a five megapixel Fine quality JPEG this takes approximately 2.5 seconds.
*2 AF LAG was virtually identical with either Auto or Manual AF Area Mode.
*3 Ensure you have disabled 'Shutter Sound' from the SETUP menu otherwise you can add up to 0.2 seconds to the shutter release LAG. (Poor design)

Auto Focus LAG is (roughly) the amount of time it takes the camera to autofocus (a half-press and hold of the shutter release button), this timing is normally the most variable as its affected by the subject matter, current focus position, still or moving subject etc. This timing is an average.

Shutter Release LAG is the amount of time it takes to take the shot from the moment you fully depress the shutter release button, measured both as a time including auto focus and a time assuming you have already pre-focused by holding a half-press of the shutter release.


Continuous modes

The table below shows 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 256 MB Viking CF card.

Continuous High

Image Type FPS Average Max no. of frames *2

Wait before
next shot
*3

Full flush *4
2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG 2.46 fps 7 8.9 sec 33.8 sec
2592 x 1944 Normal JPEG 2.56 fps 7 8.1 sec 21.7 sec
1600 x 1200 Normal JPEG 2.51 fps 7 5.1 sec 15.4 sec
1024 x 768 Normal JPEG 2.50 fps 7 4.5 sec 15.5 sec

A fair performance, a good fast frame rate and relatively good buffer, certainly better than both the Canon G5 and Sony DSC-V1. Flush times here are acceptable.

Continuous Low

Image Type FPS Average Max no. of frames *2

Wait before
next shot
*3

Full flush *4
2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG 1.30 fps 17 12.1 sec 2 min 57 sec
2592 x 1944 Normal JPEG 1.36 fps 43 10.3 sec 5 min 44 sec
1600 x 1200 Normal JPEG 1.51 fps 109 9.2 sec 12 min 18 sec
1024 x 768 Normal JPEG - - - -

I think it's fair to say that Nikon has a major bug with the Coolpix 5400's 'Continuous Low' mode, flush of the buffer full of images simply takes forever. I honestly gave up after doing the 1600 x 1200 timing, goodness only knows how long it would have taken for the 1024 x 768 buffer full. While the images are being written you can not change mode or switch off the camera.. That means take a full burst of 2592 x 1944 Normal JPEG images and the camera can not be powered off for over five minutes.

Other Continuous Modes

Continuous Mode FPS Average
 
Max no. of frames *2 Full flush *4
Continuous 16 2.02 fps 16 5.0 sec
Ultra HS 30.0 fps 100 89.2 sec
Last 5 2.09 fps 5 20.1 sec

*1 Delay after first frame is always longer than shooting speed for subsequent frames, this drags the average fps down.
*2 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release)
*3 You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background").
*4 Amount of time after the last shot to write the entire burst of images to the Compact Flash card.


File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the CF card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator LED beside the viewfinder stopped blinking. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 256 MB Viking CF card.

Image Type Time to write
(secs)
*1
Time to display
(secs)
*2
File size
(approx.)
*3
Images on a
256 MB CF
*4
2592 x 1944 TIFF 24.7 <0.1 14,874 KB 16
2592 x 1944 Fine JPEG 6.8 2.5 2,400 KB 101
2592 x 1944 Normal JPEG 3.9 1.5 1,000 KB 200
1600 x 1200 Normal JPEG 2.3 0.9 400 KB 503
1024 x 768 Normal JPEG 1.9 0.5 180 KB 1115

*1 If you disable image review after the shot (Setup -> Monitor Options -> Display mode -> Preview only) this write action takes 1.0 seconds longer than with review enabled. This is totally contrary to any logic.
*2 The 5400 displays a "rough image" almost immediately after moving to another image in play mode, the time here is the time for the camera to load the full resolution image which it then applies over the rough image. You can't magnify an image until the full resolution image has been loaded.
*3 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 (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.
*4 Camera estimation.

Surprisingly the Coolpix 5400 turned out to have slower write performance than both the Coolpix 5000 and Coolpix 5700. Indeed it was one of the slowest we have reviewed recently. A write time of 6.8 seconds for a 2,400 KB file equates to 352 KB/sec (includes processing), very slow.

Poor buffering compounds the problem

In addition to the Coolpix 5400's slow write speed it also has a pretty poor implementation of image buffering, this means that while the camera is writing images out of the buffer there are (a) certain features you can not access, (b) certain settings you can not change and (c) times at which the camera becomes unresponsive. Here's what we discovered:

  • It is possible to take one shot quickly after another, the camera 'queues' images in its buffer and the CF indicator shows in the top left of the LCD monitor indicating it is writing images
     
  • During the last two seconds of the write process the entire camera becomes unresponsive, this means you can not zoom, enter (or exit) the camera menu or change settings during these two seconds. The camera will not take a shot during these two seconds but does record the fact that you pressed the button and will take the shot as soon as it can (this in my opinion is awful, especially for such an expensive model).
     
  • While there are images in the camera buffer is NOT possible to change:
    • ISO sensitivity
    • Image size / quality
    • AF mode

To me this seems to be a processor related problem, the camera is trying to buffer 'in the background' but is having to use the same processor to perform several functions, when that is bogged down in the write process it can't be responsive to the user.

This poor buffering in combination with the slow write speed left the 5400 feeling sluggish and unresponsive, especially in a situation where you want to quickly take several shots with slightly different settings.


Low Light Auto Focus

This test is designed to measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.

Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).

This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), you should consider the results below the best you could expect to achieve.

Lens position AF Assist Aperture Lowest light focus
Wide angle (28 mm) On F2.8 4.7 EV (65 Lux, 6.04 foot-candle)
Telephoto (116 mm) On F4.6 4.7 EV (65 Lux, 6.04 foot-candle)

Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)

Without an AF assist lamp the 5400 struggles to focus in anything but moderate light. It produced the same low light focus ability for both wide angle and telephoto. Why Nikon can't fit one of their high end 'prosumer' models with an AF lamp but can put one on the Coolpix SQ is beyond me.


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

Batteries are 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

The Coolpix 5400 lasted well considering the relatively low capacity of its battery. Just breaking the three hour barrier and just over 300 shots, very good. Note that this is almost 30 minutes longer than the Coolpix 5000 it replaces.

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