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Timings & File Sizes

The D2X responds instantly, there's really no other way to define its performance. Power on is instant, focusing immediate and direct and the softest press of the shutter release results in a shot, that very instant. Viewfinder blackout is very short, this means that you're never distracted from composing the next shot.

Other performance metrics such as continuous shooting speed and especially CF write speed are equally as impressive. In continuous shooting mode the camera delivers over five frames a second at 12 MP or eight frames per second at 6.9 MP, truly the best of both worlds. CF write speed is the fastest we've seen and appears to be at the limit of performance for the cards themselves (at least as hard as we can push them).

When we consider that from the D2H to the D2X there has been a trebling in the amount of data which has to be transferred and processed each time a shot has taken the performance of this camera seems all the more remarkable.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 4288 x 2848 JPEG Fine (approx. 4,400 KB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 2 GB SanDisk Extreme III Compact Flash card
  • 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II Compact Flash card
  • 4 GB Lexar Pro 80x Compact Flash card
Action
Details
Time, secs
(SanDisk 2 GB)
Time, secs
(SanDisk 4 GB)
Time, secs
(Lexar 4 GB)
Power Off to On *1   0.0 0.0 0.0
Power On to Off   0.0 0.0 0.0
Record Review *2
RAW
0.7 0.7 0.7
Record Review *2
JPEG
0.7 0.7 0.7
Play *3
RAW
~ 0.2 ~ 0.2 ~ 0.2
Play *3
JPEG
~ 0.2 ~ 0.2 ~ 0.2
Play Image to Image
RAW
~ 0.3 ~ 0.3 ~ 0.3
Play Image to Image
JPEG
~ 0.3 ~ 0.3 ~ 0.3

*1 Assuming all buffered images have been written out to storage card, otherwise the camera remains powered on until images have been written away.
*2 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*3

The D2X appears to cache images from the Compact Flash card, after power-up or a change of card the camera appears to quickly cache the last image taken. Hence pressing the play button displays an image virtually instantly.

Continuous Drive mode

The D2X has two different drive speeds, Continuous Low (CL) and Continuous High (CH). In CL mode the camera limits its shooting speed to a specified rate between 1 and 7 frames per second (although for full size images the maximum is 4 frames per second in CL mode). In CH mode the camera shoots as quickly as possible, this is specified as 5 frames per second in full size mode and 8 frames per second in High-speed crop mode. For our test we chose to use CH mode in both full size and High-speed crop modes. Camera settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/400 sec, F5.0), ISO 200, Continuous High (CH) mode. Media used were the same as above.

The tests carried out measure the following:

  • Frame rate - The speed of shooting (in frames per second)
  • Frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Next burst - How soon after a burst you can shoot another full burst

2 GB SanDisk Extreme III

Image type
Frame rate
Frames
Next burst
4288 x 2848 RAW 5.3 fps 17 34.6 sec
4288 x 2848 JPEG Fine 5.3 fps 22 10.7 sec
3216 x 2136 RAW (HS crop) 8.0 fps 29 38.2 sec
3216 x 2136 JPEG Fine (HS crop) 8.0 fps 35 10.7 sec

4 GB SanDisk Ultra II

Image type
Frame rate
Frames
Next burst
4288 x 2848 RAW 5.3 fps 17 58.7 sec
4288 x 2848 JPEG Fine 5.3 fps 22 23.1 sec
3216 x 2136 RAW (HS crop) 8.0 fps 29 66.1 sec
3216 x 2136 JPEG Fine (HS crop) 8.0 fps 35 27.2 sec

4 GB Lexar Pro 80x

Image type
Frame rate
Frames
Next burst
4288 x 2848 RAW 5.3 fps 17 45.7 sec
4288 x 2848 JPEG Fine 5.3 fps 22 13.7 sec
3216 x 2136 RAW (HS crop) 8.0 fps 29 48.1 sec
3216 x 2136 JPEG Fine (HS crop) 8.0 fps 35 12.2 sec

Considering the size of the files (the amount of data) the D2X performs remarkably well, over five frames per second for up to 17 RAW or 22 JPEG frames in full size (12 MP) mode. Switch to High-speed crop mode (6.9 MP) and you can shoot at eight frames per second for up to 29 RAW or 35 JPEG frames. My only disappointment must be that the D2X blocks the shutter release once a burst of shots has been taken, this means you have to re-press the shutter release to take more images (although in all image modes you can fire off another shot almost immediately as the camera begins writing the burst during shooting).

File Flush Timing

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. Timing was taken from the instant the shutter release was pressed to the time the CF activity indicator beside the LCD monitor went out. The D2X will begin writing images approximately one second after the shutter release and will continue 'in the background' while you take further shots / change settings. Media used were the same as above.

Image type
Time, secs
(SanDisk 2 GB)
Time, secs
(SanDisk 4 GB)
Time, secs
(Lexar 4 GB)
Approx.
size
4288 x 2848 TIFF 33.9 35.3 34.5 37,330 KB
4288 x 2848 RAW + JPEG *1 4.3 6.0 5.4 24,100 KB
4288 x 2848 RAW 3.4 4.5 4.1 19,700 KB
4288 x 2848 JPEG Fine 1.7 2.2 1.8 4,400 KB
4288 x 2848 JPEG Normal 1.6 2.1 1.7 3,400 KB
3216 x 2136 JPEG Fine 1.3 1.8 1.5 2,700 KB

*1 File size reported here is the size of the RAW and JPEG files added together.
*2 The D2X begins writing approximately 1.0 seconds after the shutter release is pressed so you must subtract 1.0 seconds from the above timings to get the actual write time.

It's fair to say that the D2X is capable of pushing most Compact Flash cards to the limit of their performance, as you can see from the graphs below the camera's RAW throughput was as fast as our fastest device (the Delkin CardBus CF adapter). Best card was the SanDisk Extreme III which very nearly hit 10 MB/sec in RAW mode. Overall an extremely impressive performance which we expected from Nikon's range-topping digital SLR, and is especially important considering the size of files it generates.

Card performance: JPEG Fine continuous burst write

Card Nikon D2X write speed (12 MP JPEG Fine)
2 GB SanDisk Extreme III 6,529 KB/sec
4 GB SanDisk Ultra II 3,551 KB/sec
4 GB Lexar Pro 80x 6,038 KB/sec

Card performance: RAW continuous burst write

Card Nikon D2X write speed (12 MP RAW files)
2 GB SanDisk Extreme III 9,427 KB/sec
4 GB SanDisk Ultra II 5,849 KB/sec
4 GB Lexar Pro 80x 7,315 KB/sec

Cardbus 32-bit CF Adapter benchmark

Card Cardbus 32-bit CF Adapter, write speed (12 MP RAW files)
2 GB SanDisk Extreme III 9,428 KB/sec
4 GB SanDisk Ultra II 5,853 KB/sec
4 GB Lexar Pro 80x 8,907 KB/sec

The results above were produced by measuring the write time for a burst of shots, this gives a more accurate measurement of actual throughput. The difference in performance between SanDisk's Ultra II and Extreme III cards is clear to see, the Lexar 80x almost as fast as the Extreme III apart from in-camera RAW write.

Battery life

The EN-EL4 Lithium-Ion battery has a capacity of 1900 mAh at 11.1 V (21.1 Wh). As with the D2H we found that the D2X just goes and goes on this battery. These two battery life tests are from the Nikon D2X manual (reproduced with permission):

Case 1
At room temperature (20 °C/68 °F), approximately 2600 shots can be taken with a
fully-charged (1900 mAh) EN-EL4 battery and an AF-S VR 70–200 mm f/2.8G IF ED lens (VR off) under the following standard Nikon test conditions: continuous high-speed shooting mode; high-speed crop mode off; continuous-servo autofocus; image quality set to JPEG Normal; image size set to Large; shutter speed 1/250 s; shutter-release pressed half way for three seconds and focus cycled from infinity to minimum range three times with each shot; after six shots, monitor turned on for five seconds and then turned off; cycle repeated once exposure meters have turned off.

Case 2
At room temperature (20 °C/68 °F), approximately 850 shots can be taken with a fully-charged (1900 mAh) EN-EL4 battery and an AF-S VR 24–120 mm f/3.5–5.6G IF ED lens (VR off) under the following standard Nikon test conditions: single-frame shooting mode; high-speed crop mode off; single-servo autofocus; image quality set to JPEG Normal; image size set to Large; shutter speed 1/250 s; shutter-release pressed half way for six seconds and focus cycled from infinity to minimum range once with each shot; after each shot, monitor turned on for two seconds and then turned off; cycle repeated once exposure meters have turned off.

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Comments

rfsIII
By rfsIII (1 month ago)

Thank you DPR for keeping these older reviews up. It's so amazing to go back and see how far digital cameras have come in the past decade. Just keep doing what you're doing.

1 upvote