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Timings & File Sizes

The D1H is a very fast camera, power on and off are instant and you'll almost never find yourself waiting for the camera. Because of its huge (40 frame) buffer you can fire off large bursts of high speed continuous frames without worrying about buffer space for the next burst. Nikon have tuned everything on the D1H for speed, there are several improvements over the D1 which make the D1H the fastest (and largest buffered) digital camera I've ever reviewed (at the time of writing this review).

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2000 x 1312 FINE JPEG image (approx. 1,200 KB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 64 MB Nikon (SanDisk) Type I Compact Flash card
  • 512 MB SimpleTech Type II Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card
Action Details Time, seconds
(Nikon CF)
Time, seconds
(SimpleTech CF)
Time, seconds
(Microdrive)
Power: Off to On   < 0.5
Power: On to Off *1   < 0.5
Record: Review *2 2.7 mp RAW 1.7
Record: Review *2 2.7 mp JPEG 1.7
Play: Image to Image *3 2.7 mp RAW < 0.5 < 0.5 1.1
Play: Image to Image *3 2.7 mp JPEG < 0.5 < 0.5 1.2
Play: Magnify to x3.0   < 0.5
Play: Thumbnail view 2 x 2 2.7 mp RAW 0.8 0.8 1.7
Play: Thumbnail view 2 x 2 2.7 mp JPEG 0.7 0.7 1.6
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 2.7 mp RAW 0.8 0.8 1.8
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 2.7 mp JPEG 0.7 0.7 1.8

Notable improvement: The D1 could take up to 7 seconds to fully display a RAW image, the D1H, utilizing a thumbnail image embedded in the file header manages this almost instantly on flash cards and only with slight delay on a Microdrive.

*1 Assuming all buffered images have been written out to storage card, otherwise camera powers completely down once the current image being written has completed. This means you CAN lose images from a burst of frames by turning the camera off early.
*2 Time taken after shutter release is pressed before review image is displayed on the LCD.
*3 This timing is the delay between pressing the up or down arrows and the image appearing. This has no affect on scrolling through images which operates as quickly as you can press the up and down arrows. NOTE: The additional lag time for the Microdrive is probably the amount of time it takes for the drive to "spin up", if you keep hitting the up and down arrows once the Microdrive is spinning there's almost no delay.


Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/250s, F3.5), ISO 800. The D1H has five selectable speeds of 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 frame per second.

The camera was aimed at a high speed stopwatch, the watch was started and a burst of frames were taken until the cameras buffer filled. At this stage it is possible to simply take your finger off the shutter release and re-press, you will be able to take as many shots as have already been written out of the buffer. Instead, we waited until the buffer was completely empty and recorded this as the total 'flush time'.

The media used for these tests were:

  • 512 MB SimpleTech Type II Compact Flash card
  • 1 GB IBM Microdrive Type II Compact Flash card

JPEG FINE burst

With image quality set to JPEG FINE it is possible to take up to 40 frames in a single burst. The frame per second results below were calculated by dividing 40 by the time difference on the image of the stopwatch from first and last frame. Flush time was the amount of time it took the camera to flush the ENTIRE burst of shots to the Compact Flash card. Note you can also select 2 or 4 fps.

Continuous speed
(Custom func. 25)
512 MB SimpleTech CF 1 GB Microdrive
fps flush time fps flush time
5 fps 5.06 33.3 sec 5.08 43.1 sec
3 fps 3.05 27.8 sec 3.08 37.9 sec
1 fps 1.03 2.8 sec 1.03 11.0 sec

RAW burst

With image quality set to RAW it is possible to take up to 27 frames in a single burst. The frame per second results below were calculated by dividing 40 by the time difference on the image of the stopwatch from first and last frame. Flush time was the amount of time it took the camera to flush the ENTIRE burst of shots to the Compact Flash card. Note you can also select 2 or 4 fps.

Continuous speed
(Custom func. 25)
512 MB SimpleTech CF 1 GB Microdrive
fps flush time fps flush time
5 fps 5.20 67.0 sec 5.10 74.5 sec
3 fps 3.55 64.5 sec 3.10 72.0 sec
1 fps 1.04 47.0 sec 1.04 58.8 sec

It's interesting to note that shooting in RAW mode is actually slightly faster, I could put this down to the fact that less processing power is required for a RAW file but really each of these frame rates should be calibrated. Clearly the 512 MB SimpleTech (Type II) Compact Flash card is slightly faster than the 1 GB Microdrive.


File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage media. The D1H continues to process images in the buffer and write data out to the storage media in parallel to you composing (and taking) the next shot.

Store Time, seconds
(SimpleTech CF)
Time, seconds
(Microdrive)
Average
File size
*2
Approx. images on an
1 GB Microdrive
2000 x 1312 RGB TIFF 6.3 7.0  7,768 KB 134
2000 x 1312 YCbCr TIFF 4.2 4.4  5,204 KB 201
2000 x 1312 RAW Uncomp. 3.0 4.0  3,982 KB 263
2000 x 1312 RAW Comp. *3 8.0 8.1 ~2,000 KB 524
2000 x 1312 FINE JPEG 1.5 1.9 ~1,200 KB 873
2000 x 1312 NORM JPEG 0.9 1.9 ~670 KB 1,565

*1 Timer was started as soon as the storage compartment light came on and stopped when this light went off. This was seen as the ACTUAL recording time. Add approximately 1.5 seconds to these times to get the amount of time from shutter release to image flushed away to the storage card.
*2 JPEG 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.
*3 Interesting to note how much longer it takes to save compressed RAW files, this is probably down to the additional processing required to perform lossless (similar to ZIP / LZW) compression.


Battery life

With that hugely powerful 7.2V 2000mAh (14.4Wh) NiMH battery pack the D1H has enough life to last for several hundred frames (on one session in particular the battery gave up after 1,200 frames - LCD review switched off). However, for the kind of photographer this camera is aimed at I would recommend always carrying a spare fully charged battery. Here's a Nikon technical note on the D1H's battery management:

The larger buffer capacity of the D1H has meant a change in the battery management compared to the D1.

The D1H requires more reserve power before the shutter release to ensure that after a long burst on a low battery, there is still enough power to empty the buffer and save the pictures to CF card or firewire. Therefore the battery indicator will show “low” earlier in the D1H than in the D1.

To ensure maximum operating efficiency, batteries used with the D1H should be refreshed every 20 or 30 cycles and the high continuous drain caused by shooting long bursts will result in a battery life being reduced compared with operation in the D1 and D1X.

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