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Timing & Performance

The Coolpix 8700's performance was a bit of a mixed bag. On the upside its startup time and off to shot taken times are considerably better than the 5700, on the other side of the coin it's still not really a 'fast' camera by prosumer standards. Because of the extending lens you're stuck with waiting for it to extend each time you power up and while auto focus times at wide angle or at similar focus distances are relatively quick you can find the camera 'hunting' especially at full telephoto. Good but not the best.

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. 2,500 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.

Action Details Time, seconds
Power: Off to Record Live view appears 3.0
Power: Off to Play Initial image displayed 2.5
Power: Record to Off 3.6
Power: Play to Off 1.4
Record Review Image displayed 1.0
Mode: Record to Play Depends on image size 1.0
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended 2.3
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended 4.5
Play: Magnify To full magnification 3.2
Play: Thumbnail view 2 x 2 thumbnails 0.9
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails 1.5

Action Details Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 35 to 280 mm (8 x), Low speed zoom *1 2.2
Zoom from Wide to Tele 35 to 280 mm (8 x), High speed zoom 2.5
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle (Auto AF Area) 0.5 - 1.3
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto (Auto AF Area) 0.5 - 2.5
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle (Manual AF Area) 0.7 - 1.3
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto (Manual AF Area) 0.7 - 1.8
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Wide angle (LCD / EVF) 0.1
Full-press Lag (0->S2) Wide angle (Auto AF Area) 0.5
Off to Shot Taken Wide angle (Auto AF Area) 3.8
Shot to Shot Record Review, Normal 2.4
Shot to Shot Record Review, Quick response *2 2.2
Shot to Shot No Review, Normal *3 2.6
Shot to Shot No Review, Quick response *2. 3 2.6

*1 Low speed zoom quickly switches to high speed zoom if you keep the zoom lever held down.
*2 When Shutter Release Speed is set to 'Quick Response' and you quickly re-press the shutter release after taking a shot the camera does not recalculate Auto Exposure and Auto Focus. Note that this function only appears to work if you have Review Options set to 'Review On'.
*3 Interestingly shot to shot times were slower with record review disabled which appears to require the image to be written before allowing you to take the next 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. Note that continuous shooting modes are not available for RAW image format. Media used for these tests was a 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/250 sec during these tests.

High / Low speed continuous drive modes

Image Type Continuous
mode
Avg. frames
per sec
*1
Frames in one burst *2

Delay before
next shot
*3

3264 x 2448 Fine High 1.9 fps 5 7.6 sec
3264 x 2448 Normal High 1.9 fps 5 7.3 sec
2592 x 1944 Fine High 1.9 fps 5 8.1 sec
1600 x 1200 Fine High 1.9 fps 5 7.3 sec
3264 x 2448 Fine Low 1.0 fps 13 10.7 sec
3264 x 2448 Normal Low 1.0 fps 20 9.8 sec
2592 x 1944 Fine Low 1.0 fps 15 10.3 sec
1600 x 1200 Fine Low 1.0 fps 42 9.2 sec

*1 This is an average. Monitor options did not affect frame rate. In Low speed mode shooting speed 'stutters' after first frame then becomes consistent then slows down again before the buffer fills.
*2 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release). In Continuous High mode the maximum frames you can shoot is always five. In Continuous Low mode the maximum frames is a function of the camera processor, buffer size and the write speed of your Compact Flash card).
*3 You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background").

Interestingly our measured frame rate fell short of Nikon's advertised 2.5 fps / 1.2 fps, and in actual fact I think that despite the consideration of larger file sizes most owners will expect a higher shooting rate than just under 2 frames per second.

Other continuous drive modes

In addition to the standard continuous shooting mode the Coolpix 8700 also features Multi-shot 16, Ultra HS and 5 shot buffer modes we've seen on Coolpix cameras for a while now. These unique shooting modes allow you to capture a continuous sequence in different ways.

Continuous Mode Frames in one burst Image size Frames
per sec
Multi-shot 16 16 Sixteen 816 x 612 on a 3264 x 2448 image 1.4 fps
Ultra HS 100 640 x 480 (VGA) 0.7 fps
5 shot buffer (last 5 frames) 5 Any size 30.0 fps


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 on the LCD monitor disappeared. 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 1 GB SanDisk Ultra II Type I Compact Flash card.

Image Type Time to write
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)
*1
File size *2
(approx.)
Images on a *3
1 GB Card
3264 x 2448 TIFF HI 15.6 1.0 23,520 KB 42
3264 x 2448 RAW 14.7 1.0 12,375 KB 80
3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine 3.6 2.3 2,500 KB 256
3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal 3.2 1.8 1,600 KB 504
3264 x 2448 JPEG Basic 2.9 1.5 1,000 KB 977
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine 2.7 1.4 1,100 KB 638
1280 x 960 JPEG Fine 2.3 1.0 484 KB 1563

*1 Note that for all JPEG modes the timing shown is for the camera to replace the initial rough image with the finer detailed image (after loading the full image from the card). The initial rough image is displayed very quickly, probably less than a tenth of a second. You can not magnify until the camera has loaded the full image from the card.
*2 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).
*3 Camera estimation.

Respectable write times considering the larger file sizes involved. We estimated camera's Compact Flash interface throughput to be between 1 - 1.5 MB/sec for a good card like this Ultra II. This is notably faster than the Coolpix 5700 which took longer to process and write smaller files.


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).

AF assist lamp

The Coolpix 8700 is the Nikon prosumer digital camera to feature an AF assist lamp. The lamp itself is located beside the flash and therefore requires the flash to be popped up to operate. If the 'Pop Up' setting for the internal flash is set to 'Auto' it will pop up whenever the AF assist lamp is required, otherwise if set to 'Manual' you will need to raise the flash by pressing the flash button on the lens barrel before the AF assist lamp can operate.

Focal length Aperture
at focal len.
AF assist lamp Lowest light focus Time to focus
from min.
*1
Wide (35 mm equiv.) F2.8 Yes 0.1 EV 1.9 sec
Tele (280 mm equiv.) F4.2 Yes 0.9 EV 4.8 sec
Wide (35 mm equiv.) F2.8 No 1.1 EV 1.6 sec
Tele (280 mm equiv.) F4.2 No 1.6 EV 4.4 sec

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

Even with its AF assist lamp the 8700 can't focus in absolute darkness, it still requires a dim ambient light to provide some extra illumination. At wide angle focus speeds aren't blistering but are acceptable, zoom in a little more and the camera has to scan through its full focus range before locking, at full telephoto this can take four and a half seconds.


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

It's a pity Nikon decided to stick with its rather low capacity 5 Wh EN-EL1 battery because the Coolpix 8700 could clearly have lasted almost four hours with a 7 Wh battery. However they have and this limits the 8700 to a maximum of around two hours forty five minutes, good considering the battery power (and much better than the Coolpix 5700) but still lower than we would hope from a prosumer level camera.

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