Nikon Coolpix 8400 Review
Timing & Performance
The similarities between the 8400 and 8800 become even more clear. As I've commented in the 8800 review there's almost no performance improvement here compared to the 8700 which we reviewed back in April. Compared to other prosumer eight megapixel models the startup time is at the slower end of the scale at around three seconds (along with the 8700, 8400 and Canon Pro1). Off to shot taken suffers because of the slow startup and shot to shot times were slow (other prosumer eight megapixel digital cameras manage between 1 and 1.5 seconds). Overall the 8400 can't be considered a slow camera but we certainly expected more.
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. 2,600 KB per image).
Media used for these tests
- 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
- 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
|Power: Off to Record||Live view appears *1||2.7||2.7|
|Power: Off to Play||Initial image displayed *1||2.2||2.2|
|Power: Record to Off||Lens retracted, LCD off *2||3.5||3.5|
|Power: Play to Off||LCD off||1.3||1.3|
|Mode: Record to Play||Image displayed||1.3||1.3|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens extended, live view returns||2.3||2.3|
|Play: Magnify||To 10x magnification||3.5||3.5|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||1.6||1.6|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle (Auto AF Area)||0.4 - 1.1|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle (Manual AF Area)||0.5 - 1.1|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto (Auto AF Area)||0.7 - 2.0|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto (Manual AF Area)||0.9 - 2.0|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||EVF||0.1|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD Monitor||0.1|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||Wide angle (Auto AF Area)||0.4|
|Off to Shot Taken||Wide angle (Auto AF Area)||3.5|
|Shot to Shot||Record review On||2.4|
|Shot to Shot||Record review Off *3||2.7|
|Shot to Shot||Record review On, Quick response mode *4||2.3|
|Shot to Shot (flash recycle)||Record Review On, Flash On (red eye off)||2.8|
|*1||With the 'Welcome Screen' enabled startup can take up to a second longer.|
|*2||Display on the top LCD goes off approximately one second later (actual camera shutdown time).|
|*3||When Review is switched off you must wait for the camera to finish writing before you can take the next shot, this is not true when Review is On (bizarre behaviour).|
|*4||In Quick response mode the camera does not re-focus or re-calculate AE/WB (it uses AF / AE / AWB readings from the previous 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).
|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)
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. Media used for these tests was a 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/250 sec during these tests.
Continuous Low speed
Frames in a burst
Full burst write time *2
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine||1.1 fps||7||10.5 sec||44.2 sec|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||1.1 fps||14||10.1 sec||1 min 11 sec|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal||1.1 fps||22||9.9 sec||1 min 41 sec|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||1.1 fps||36||9.0 sec||2 min 26 sec|
Continuous High speed
Frames in a burst
Full burst write time *2
|3264 x 2448 RAW||2.3 fps||5||40.8 sec||42.7 sec|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine||2.3 fps||5||8.5 sec||18.5 sec|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||2.3 fps||5||7.5 sec||11.8 sec|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal||2.3 fps||5||7.0 sec||8.7 sec|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||2.3 fps||5||6.6 sec||9.2 sec|
|*1||You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background").|
|*2||The amount of time after the last frame of a burst before the camera indicates it has finished writing.|
From a continuous shooting speed point of view the 8400 performed pretty much as advertised, 2.3 frames per second in high speed and about 1.1 frames per second in low speed. In High speed mode you are limited to a maximum of five frames no matter what the image mode, and you can also shoot RAW. In Low speed mode the output file size affects the number of frames which can be shot in a burst. We surprised and disappointed to see that numbers of images rather than their size affects the 'full burst write time', taking an almost eternal feeling 2.5 minutes after a burst of 3 mp images.
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 the CF activity indicator disappears. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task".
Display vs. Load time
In play mode the 8400 displays a 'rough' version of the image instantly (this is in fact a small thumbnail from the image header). If you look closely you can see it replace this rough image with a more detailed image once it has loaded the image from the CF card. You can not magnify the image until it has been loaded. The timings below represent the time for the camera to load the image from the CF card, this does affect your ability to browse to the next image.
Media used for these testss
- 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
- 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
|Image Type||Time to write, secs||Time to load, secs|
|3264 x 2448 RAW||15.2||15.4||9.5||9.7|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine||5.4||5.7||4.1||4.4|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||3.6||3.6||2.2||2.4|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal||3.2||3.2||1.8||1.9|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||2.6||2.6||1.3||1.3|
|Image Type||File size
|Images on a
1 GB Card
|3264 x 2448 RAW||12,375 KB||81|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Extra-Fine||5,700 KB||129|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine||2,400 KB||257|
|3264 x 2448 JPEG Normal||1,600 KB||507|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine||1,000 KB||642|
With record review off the 8400 returns to its live view approximately 1.6 seconds after pressing the shutter release (3 seconds with record review on or about 8 seconds for RAW). The write times above are for the camera to complete writing in the background. Overall write speeds were fairly good although not groudbreaking, they're above average for this type of camera but when you compare them to D-SLR's you can see there's still some way to go. (Interesting to note how much faster then 8400 was than the 8800 in this test).
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).
at focal len.
AF Assist Lamp
Lowest light focus
|Wide (24 mm equiv.)||F2.6||On||0.6 EV|
|Tele (85 mm equiv.)||F4.9||On||2.3 EV|
|Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)|
The 8400's orange AF assist lamp can not be disabled by the user except by selecting certain scene modes, hence in all the 'creative' exposure modes (P, S, A and M) the lamp is always enabled. Despite its lamp the 8400 still required a little ambient light at wide angle before it could focus lock, at telephoto it needed more still, a slightly surprising 2.3 EV.
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
Batteries are fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
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
The 8400 lasted a very respectable four hours before giving up, that's about what we would expect from a modern digital camera with a high capacity Lithium-Ion battery. It really shows up the poor old EN-EL1 used in the Coolpix 8700 which couldn't even make three hours.
|Waffles with fruits by Coolinarka|
from Food photography (desserts)
|Vestrahorn Frozen Reflection by Will B Milner|
from Ice cold
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