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Timing & Performance

The similarities between the 8400 and 8800 become even more clear. As I've commented in the 8800 review there's almost no performance improvement here compared to the 8700 which we reviewed back in April. Compared to other prosumer eight megapixel models the startup time is at the slower end of the scale at around three seconds (along with the 8700, 8400 and Canon Pro1). Off to shot taken suffers because of the slow startup and shot to shot times were slow (other prosumer eight megapixel digital cameras manage between 1 and 1.5 seconds). Overall the 8400 can't be considered a slow camera but we certainly expected more.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3264 x 2448 Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,600 KB per image).

Media used for these tests

  • 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
  • 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
Action Details
SanDisk CF
Time, secs
Lexar CF
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record Live view appears *1 2.7 2.7
Power: Off to Play Initial image displayed *1 2.2 2.2
Power: Record to Off Lens retracted, LCD off *2 3.5 3.5
Power: Play to Off LCD off 1.3 1.3
Mode: Record to Play Image displayed 1.3 1.3
Mode: Play to Record Lens extended, live view returns 2.3 2.3
Play: Magnify To 10x magnification 3.5 3.5
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 1.6 1.6

Action
 
Details
Time, secs
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle (Auto AF Area) 0.4 - 1.1
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle (Manual AF Area) 0.5 - 1.1
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto (Auto AF Area) 0.7 - 2.0
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto (Manual AF Area) 0.9 - 2.0
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) EVF 0.1
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD Monitor 0.1
Full-press Lag (0->S2) Wide angle (Auto AF Area) 0.4
Off to Shot Taken Wide angle (Auto AF Area) 3.5
Shot to Shot Record review On 2.4
Shot to Shot Record review Off *3 2.7
Shot to Shot Record review On, Quick response mode *4 2.3
Shot to Shot (flash recycle) Record Review On, Flash On (red eye off) 2.8

*1 With the 'Welcome Screen' enabled startup can take up to a second longer.
*2 Display on the top LCD goes off approximately one second later (actual camera shutdown time).
*3 When Review is switched off you must wait for the camera to finish writing before you can take the next shot, this is not true when Review is On (bizarre behaviour).
*4 In Quick response mode the camera does not re-focus or re-calculate AE/WB (it uses AF / AE / AWB readings from the previous shot).

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 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/250 sec during these tests.

Continuous Low speed

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst

Delay before
next shot
*1

Full burst write time *2
3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine 1.1 fps 7 10.5 sec 44.2 sec
3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine 1.1 fps 14 10.1 sec 1 min 11 sec
3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal 1.1 fps 22 9.9 sec 1 min 41 sec
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 1.1 fps 36 9.0 sec 2 min 26 sec

Continuous High speed

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst

Delay before
next shot
*1

Full burst write time *2
3264 x 2448 RAW 2.3 fps 5 40.8 sec 42.7 sec
3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine 2.3 fps 5 8.5 sec 18.5 sec
3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine 2.3 fps 5 7.5 sec 11.8 sec
3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal 2.3 fps 5 7.0 sec 8.7 sec
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 2.3 fps 5 6.6 sec 9.2 sec

*1 You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background").
*2 The amount of time after the last frame of a burst before the camera indicates it has finished writing.

From a continuous shooting speed point of view the 8400 performed pretty much as advertised, 2.3 frames per second in high speed and about 1.1 frames per second in low speed. In High speed mode you are limited to a maximum of five frames no matter what the image mode, and you can also shoot RAW. In Low speed mode the output file size affects the number of frames which can be shot in a burst. We surprised and disappointed to see that numbers of images rather than their size affects the 'full burst write time', taking an almost eternal feeling 2.5 minutes after a burst of 3 mp images.

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 the CF activity indicator disappears. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task".

Display vs. Load time

In play mode the 8400 displays a 'rough' version of the image instantly (this is in fact a small thumbnail from the image header). If you look closely you can see it replace this rough image with a more detailed image once it has loaded the image from the CF card. You can not magnify the image until it has been loaded. The timings below represent the time for the camera to load the image from the CF card, this does affect your ability to browse to the next image.

Media used for these testss

  • 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
  • 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
Image Type Time to write, secs Time to load, secs
SanDisk Lexar SanDisk Lexar
3264 x 2448 RAW 15.2 15.4 9.5 9.7
3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine 5.4 5.7 4.1 4.4
3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine 3.6 3.6 2.2 2.4
3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal 3.2 3.2 1.8 1.9
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 2.6 2.6 1.3 1.3

File sizes

Image Type File size
(approx.)
Images on a
1 GB Card
3264 x 2448 RAW 12,375 KB 81
3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine 5,700 KB 129
3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine 2,400 KB 257
3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal 1,600 KB 507
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 1,000 KB 642

With record review off the 8400 returns to its live view approximately 1.6 seconds after pressing the shutter release (3 seconds with record review on or about 8 seconds for RAW). The write times above are for the camera to complete writing in the background. Overall write speeds were fairly good although not groudbreaking, they're above average for this type of camera but when you compare them to D-SLR's you can see there's still some way to go. (Interesting to note how much faster then 8400 was than the 8800 in this test).

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).

Focal length
Aperture
at focal len.
AF Assist Lamp
Lowest light focus
Wide (24 mm equiv.) F2.6 On 0.6 EV
Tele (85 mm equiv.) F4.9 On 2.3 EV
Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)

The 8400's orange AF assist lamp can not be disabled by the user except by selecting certain scene modes, hence in all the 'creative' exposure modes (P, S, A and M) the lamp is always enabled. Despite its lamp the 8400 still required a little ambient light at wide angle before it could focus lock, at telephoto it needed more still, a slightly surprising 2.3 EV.

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 8400 lasted a very respectable four hours before giving up, that's about what we would expect from a modern digital camera with a high capacity Lithium-Ion battery. It really shows up the poor old EN-EL1 used in the Coolpix 8700 which couldn't even make three hours.

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