Timing & Performance

It's fair to say that the P50 isn't the fastest camera we've ever used. It's not so slow that you'll find yourself tearing your hair out or smashing it into solid objects in frustration but you will notice that you're having to wait for it. None of the camera's actions is unbearably slow but there are cameras in this class that do all of them faster. If you are of the opinion that a rushed photo is a bad photo, then that won't be a problem, but the whole experience of using the camera would be improved if it weren't quite so hesitant.

Timing Notes

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. 4,000 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB Sandisk Extreme III card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record With startup animation disabled 3.1
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 2.7
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 2.3
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty, lens retracted 0.2
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty, lens extended 2.2
Record Review Image displayed 0.7
Mode: Play to Record   0.5*1
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) 2.3 *2
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image 0.8 *3
Play: Thumbnail view 2 x 2 thumbnails 0.5 *4
Zoom from Wide to Tele 28 to 105 mm (3.7 x) 1.5
Half-press Lag (Focus time) Wide angle ~0.8 *5
Half-press Lag (Focus time) Telephoto ~1.1 *6
Pre-focus Lag (S1>S2) LCD live view ~0.1
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle 0.7
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view 3.6
Shot to Shot Flash off 2.1
Shot to Shot Flash on ( red eye reduction on / off) 3.1 / 5.6
*1 Extending the lens, if it was previously retracted, adds 1.9 seconds to this time
*2 Two presses required. The initial press takes around 0.2 sec to jump to a 9-segment zoomed view
*3 Time taken to render full previews. Low-res versions take just 0.2 sec
*4 3x3 takes a further 0.3 sec and 4x4 after another 0.2
*5 Increases to as much as 1.6 sec in low light
*6 Increases to as much as 3.5 sec in low light

Continuous drive mode

The Nikon has a series of continuous shot modes with various degrees of usefulness. The main continuous mode shoots four images at 1.0fps and then takes around 2.3 seconds to refocus before trying again. It'll keep doing this until you run out of time, batteries or interest. Another mode will take 16 images in around 9 seconds, combining them all in a single 5MP image - for reasons that defy our understanding of the word useful.

File writing / playback performance

The P50 takes around 2.7 seconds to store each 8MP image (roughly 2MB in this instance). This, and the hourglass that appears on the screen between the image first appearing (just under a second after it is shot), emphasize and perhaps exaggerate the feeling that the camera is slow to use. Having tested the camera with a variety of cards, we have to conclude that it's the camera that is determining the speed, not the memory card, since all produced similar timings.

Battery life

Battery life is pretty average, with Nikon claiming that users should expect to get around 140 shots out of the camera using alkaline batteries or around 330 using 2000mAh NiMH rechargeables in standard CIPA tests. Lithium and oxyride batteries offer greater life spans but at greater cost. The capacity of NiMH batteries is comparable to that of the small Lithium ion batteries used in ultra compact cameras but the flash refresh times associated with two AA batteries tend to be slower than those for Li-ion (which generally have a higher voltage).