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Timings & File Sizes

Not too many surprises here, mostly the 995 performs the same as the 990, maybe just slightly faster. Two things became apparent for their potential to cause delay, first of all is zoom startup position, power up times gained an extra 3 seconds if the lens startup position is at full wide (either set to that or as the "last position"). This is because the camera "parks" the lens somewhere near full tele at power down, thus at power up it has to fully zoom to reach the requested zoom position.

Secondly is the delay brought about by using an IBM Microdrive. We've noted in other reviews the fact that the Microdrive's "spin up" and accesses times often have a detrimental effect on performance, the same appears to be true with the 995.

Start up times are almost doubled using the Microdrive (vs. the supplied SanDisk flash card) as are power down, mode change and thumbnail views. The amount of delay caused by using the Microdrive does seem to be significantly greater than we have seen from other digital cameras and it can only lead us to believe that the 995 isn't properly "prepared" (as IBM would put it) to use the Microdrive. This then supports Nikon's position that the 995 "does NOT support IBM Microdrive".

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2048 x 1536 FINE JPEG image (approx. 1.0 MB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 16 MB SanDisk Type I CompactFlash card (as supplied in European Kit)
  • 320 MB Lexar Pro 12x Type I CompactFlash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II CompactFlash card
Legend
  Quickest
  Significantly slower

Action Details Time, seconds
(SanDisk CF)
Time, seconds
(Lexar 12x CF)
Time, seconds
(Microdrive)
Power: Off to Record Zoom @ tele 4.0 4.1 6.3
Power: Off to Record Zoom @ wide 6.9 7.4 9.0
Power: Off to Play   2.6 3.0 6.3
Power: Record to Off Zoom @ tele 2.1 1.9 1.9
Power: Record to Off Zoom @ wide 3.8 3.5 3.6
Power: Play to Off   1.2 1.2 1.9
Mode: Record to Play   1.8 1.3 3.4
Mode: Play to Record   2.2 2.2 2.6
Play: Magnify to x6.0 25 steps 4.4 4.3 4.8
Rec: Thumbnail view 2 x 2   1.5 1.1 2.6
Rec: Thumbnail view 3 x 3   3.1 2.0 4.8

Action Details Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele Full zoom from 38 mm to 152 mm (4x) 3.4
Auto Focus LAG Normal AF *1 0.8 - 1.7
Auto Focus LAG Macro AF *1 0.9 - 3.0
Shutter Release LAG Using viewfinder <0.1
Shutter Release LAG Using LCD monitor 0.1
Total LAG   >1.0
Off to Shot Taken Using supplied 16 MB SanDisk CF card, zoom at half 5.6
Shot to Shot Same for LCD in review or preview modes 2.6

*1 Generally using continuous auto focus will at least "prepare" the cameras focus system to be close to the ideal focus point.

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 after autofocus, this timing assumes you have already focused (half-pressed the shutter release) and now press the shutter release button all the way down to take the shot. This timing is an average.

Total LAG is the total time it takes (not just the two above added together) if you haven't pre-focused, that is no finger touching the shutter release button, press it all the way down in one movement, this new timing is how long it'd take if you were in one of those spur-of-the-moment situations. This timing is an average.


Continuous modes

As with the 990, the 995 offers a wide range of different continuous (or burst) shooting modes, everything from full 3 megapixel continuous shooting down to 320 x 240 ultra high speed bursts.

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.

Mode Image Type Frames per sec Max no. of frames *1

Wait before
next shot
*2

Continuous 2048 x 1536 FINE 1.8 fps 3 7.1 secs
Continuous 2048 x 1536 NORMAL 1.8 fps 5 5.8 secs
Continuous 2048 x 1536 BASIC 1.8 fps 8 4.3 secs
Continuous 1600 x 1200 BASIC 1.8 fps 12 3.2 secs
Continuous 1024 x 768 BASIC 1.9 fps 28 3.2 secs
Multi-shot 16 512 x 384 *3 2.5 fps 16 4.3 secs
VGA seq. *4 640 x 480 1.8 fps 36 2.8 secs
Ultra HS *5 320 x 240 33.0 fps 70 27.2 secs
Movie *6 320 x 240 MOV 15.0 fps 40 secs 56.0 secs

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release)
*2 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.
*3 Sixteen images on a single 2048 x 1536 image
*4 LCD Monitor is blank during shooting
*5 There appears to be a bug in the 995's Ultra HS mode, image quality is degraded if you leave auto focus confirmation set to "On", the sharpened image is recorded, rather than the "normal" image.
*6 Reported by QuickTime as 271 KB/sec. Zoom is possible during movie recording however camera does not autofocus. No audio is recorded.

The 995 does appear to be very slightly faster than the 990 (a whole 0.2 fps in most cases) however this is to the detriment of the maximum number of frames, for example the 990 can shoot 44 frames in a VGA seq. and 80 frames at Ultra HS.

Continuous mode Flush Timing

The timings above represent the speed of the camera and its internal buffer, however the speed of the Compact Flash card will also have an impact on shooting continuously, it defines how long we must wait before the ENTIRE "burst" of frames are written away to the card (flushed). During the flush process (which happens in the background, you can still take a shot as long as there is space in the internal buffer) certain camera operations are blocked; such as playback and entering the menu.

Image Type No. images Time, seconds
(SanDisk CF)
Time, seconds
(Lexar 12x CF)
Time, seconds
(Microdrive)
2048 x 1536 FINE 3 17.8 7.9 12.6
2048 x 1536 NORMAL 5 20.3 10.0 16.4
2048 x 1536 BASIC 8 20.0 11.3 20.8
1600 x 1200 BASIC 12 21.0 14.0 24.6
1024 x 768 BASIC 28 43.5 25.6 50.0

Not surprisingly Lexar's excellent Pro 12x Compact Flash card performs the best, it's almost twice as fast as the supplied Nikon badged SanDisk card and the Microdrive. Not exactly 12x faster though!


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".

The media used for these tests were:

  • 16 MB SanDisk Type I CompactFlash card (as supplied in European Kit)
  • 320 MB Lexar Pro 12x Type I CompactFlash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II CompactFlash card
Image Type Time to store *1
(seconds)
  Time to display *2
(seconds)
SanDisk Lexar Microdrive   SanDisk Lexar Microdrive
2048 x 1536 HI TIFF *3 46.5 18.7 20.4   26.6 25.6 21.6
2048 x 1536 FINE 7.5 3.9 7.0   3.0 1.9 4.5
2048 x 1536 NORMAL 5.5 3.3 6.5   2.8 1.8 4.4
2048 x 1536 BASIC 4.1 2.9 6.0   2.6 1.6 4.4
1600 x 1200 FINE 6.8 3.7 6.9   2.9 1.7 4.4
1280 x 960 FINE 5.4 3.2 6.5   2.9 1.7 4.4
1024 x 768 FINE 4.7 3.1 5.8   2.6 1.6 4.4
640 x 480 FINE 3.0 2.3 5.2   2.2 1.3 4.4

*1 This is the amount of time it takes to write a single image away, it is taken from the moment of shutter release to the CF activity indicator on the LCD monitor disappearing. In any mode other than TIFF you can take further shots during this write period (assuming there is space in the camera's buffer).
*2 The 995 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 The display TIFF images is handled a little differently, they are displayed immediately and are only loaded if you press the magnify button.


File Sizes

Here's a comparison of the average byte size of each of different image size / quality combinations.

Image Size Quality Image format File size *1
(~ = approx)
No. on supplied 16 MB CF Card No. on
1 GB Microdrive
2048 x 1536 HI TIFF 9,327 KB 1 110
2048 x 1536 FINE JPEG ~1,100 KB 10 661
2048 x 1536 NORMAL JPEG ~770 KB 19 1296
2048 x 1536 BASIC JPEG ~420 KB 37 2492
2048 x 1360 (3:2) HI TIFF 8,271 KB 1 125
2048 x 1360 (3:2) FINE JPEG ~1,000 KB 11 753
2048 x 1360 (3:2) NORMAL JPEG ~660 KB 22 1473
2048 x 1360 (3:2) BASIC JPEG ~290 KB 42 2700
1600 x 1200 (UXGA) FINE JPEG ~700 KB 16 1080
1600 x 1200 (UXGA) NORMAL JPEG ~440 KB 31 2025
1600 x 1200 (UXGA) BASIC JPEG ~250 KB 59 3600
1280 x 960 (SXGA) FINE JPEG ~620 KB 24 1620
1280 x 960 (SXGA) NORMAL JPEG ~290 KB 47 2946
1280 x 960 (SXGA) BASIC JPEG ~170 KB 86 5401
1024 x 768 (XGA) FINE JPEG ~350 KB 37 2492
1024 x 768 (XGA) NORMAL JPEG ~190 KB 69 4629
1024 x 768 (XGA) BASIC JPEG ~100 KB 121 8101
640 x 480 (VGA) FINE JPEG ~120 KB 86 5401
640 x 480 (VGA) NORMAL JPEG ~80 KB 144 8101
640 x 480 (VGA) BASIC JPEG ~64 KB 229 9999

*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 (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

As you will have already read (assuming you're not skipping through this review!), the 995 doesn't take AA batteries like the 990, instead it is supplied with the Nikon EN-EL1 Lithium-Ion battery. One of our major concerns was how well this apparently low power battery (just 4.8 Wh) would last. To test this in a fair and comparative manner we devised a simple routine designed to stress battery life:

  • 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

This test routine was carried out on five different cameras simultaneously. 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 Battery Power Battery life Number of shots
Minolta DiMAGE 7 *1 4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP) 7.7 Wh 1 hr 14 mins 125
Canon Digital IXUS 300 NB-1L 2.5 Wh 1 hr 26 mins 155
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
Canon PowerShot G1 BP-511 8.1 Wh 3 hr 00 mins 300
Sony DSC-S75 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 3 hr 15 mins 330
Sony DSC-S85 NP-FM50 8.6 Wh 3 hr 50 mins 400

Amazingly, despite its relatively low power rating the 995's EN-EL1 lasted just as long as the best set of AA NiMH around (GP's excellent 1600 mAh's), it didn't (as we'd expected) last as long as Canon's BP-511 (in the G1) or Sony's excellent NP-FM50 (in the DSC-S75).

It is clear however that either the EN-EL1 provides more power than it's specification reveals or that Nikon have made some power efficiency changes to the 995. All told 2 hours and 30 minutes of shooting totalling over 250 shots is an excellent performance from such a small, lightweight battery. Kudos Nikon.

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