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Timings & File Sizes

The D80 is fast, very fast, there's very little you can do with the camera which leaves you feeling it is having to catch up with you. Startup is as good as instant (as the camera is in a sort of perpetual sleep mode when off), playback and menus feel snappy, continuous shooting performs as specified and write performance to the SD card is excellent. There's one more performance related item we don't measure and that's 'blackout time', the amount of time the viewfinder is obscured by the mirror during a shutter release. Nikon claim this to be around 160 ms and we can well believe it, seemingly very brief, impressive.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3872 x 2592 JPEG Fine (approx. 3,600 KB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 2 GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card
  • 2 GB Lexar Pro 133x SD card
Action
Details
Time, secs
(2 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Power Off to On *1   <0.1 <0.1
Power Off to Shot *1   <0.1 <0.1
Sleep to On *1   <0.1 <0.1
Power On to Off   <0.1 <0.1
Record Review *2
RAW
1.4 1.4
Record Review *2
JPEG
1.4 1.4
Play *3
RAW
0.8 / 0.4 0.8 / 0.4
Play *3
JPEG
0.8 / 0.4 0.8 / 0.4
Play Image to Image
RAW
<0.2 <0.2
Play Image to Image
JPEG
<0.2 <0.2

*1 As good as instant, the D80 appears to remain in a 'sleep state' even when powered off (it displays the number of remaining frames on the top LCD display).
*2 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*3 First figure is time to display if the camera has been off (image isn't cached), second figure is if the image is still in the camera's internal cache.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/320 sec, F5.6), ISO 200. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above.

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was always 3.0 fps (+/- 0.01 fps)
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held after burst (buffer full)
  • Next burst - How soon after the burst it is fully written to the card (indicator goes out)

Burst of JPEG Large Fine images

The D80 will shoot continuously at three frames per second for 33 seconds (110 frames) then stop, for no apparent reason the buffer counter runs to zero and the camera stops. If you let go of the shutter release button at this point the buffer counter jumps back up to 9 and you can start shooting another burst of 110 frames. Very odd.

Timing
2 GB SanDisk
Extreme III SD
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x SD
Frame rate (average) 3.0 fps 3.0 fps
Number of frames 110 110
Buffer full rate - -
Next burst - -

Burst of RAW images

Timing
2 GB SanDisk
Extreme III SD
2 GB Lexar
Pro 133x SD
Frame rate (average) 3.0 fps 3.0 fps
Number of frames 6 6
Buffer full rate 1.1 fps 1.1 fps
Next burst 6.2 sec 6.2 sec

The D80 put in a very respectable performance, capable of shooting absolutely reliably at three frames per second for up to 33 seconds in JPEG mode, good buffering and fast SD card throughput ensure that the D80 will always be ready to fire off another burst of shots.

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 storage card activity indicator on the LCD monitor disappears (note that this is unlikely to be as accurate as an LED lamp). Media used were the same as above.

Image type
Time, secs
(2 GB SanDisk)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar)
Approx.
size
3872 x 2592 RAW + JPEG Fine 2.8 2.8 12,200 KB *1
3872 x 2592 RAW 2.2 2.2 8,600 KB
3872 x 2592 JPEG Fine 2.0 2.0 3,600 KB
3872 x 2592 JPEG Normal 2.0 2.0 2,700 KB

*1 File size reported here is the size of the RAW and JPEG files added together.
*2 The D80 begins writing around 0.8 seconds after the shutter release is pressed so you must subtract 'processing time' from the timing to get the actual write time.

The D80 demonstrates good fast write times, we can estimate around 6 MB/sec for RAW images with fast cards such as the ones used in this test. The D80 also has very good buffering, all image processing and card write occurs in the background and never interrupts your ability to take the next shot.

USB transfer speed

To test the D80's USB transfer speed we transferred approximately 128 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a SanDisk Extreme III 2 GB SD card.

Method
Transfer rate
Nikon D80 (PTP device) 4.4 MB/sec
Sony built-in SD card reader (Vaio TX) 6.7 MB/sec
Nikon D80 (Mass storage device) 8.8 MB/sec
Panasonic CardBus PCMCIA adapter 10.7 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme IV USB 2.0 card reader 10.9 MB/sec

Mass storage device mode produced very good results, over eight megabytes per second is 'good' USB 2.0 reader territory (the SanDisk Extreme IV reader here is exceptional). This speed would mean you could offload a full 1 GB card in just under two minutes.

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