Timing & Performance

Although the user interface can make the S10 feel a little sluggish if you're using the more advanced features regularly, it is broadly offering the same performance as the other cameras in this class (and is certainly better than other Coolpix cameras we've tested recently).

Our one big complaint is focus speed, specifically at the long end of the zoom with anything other than an ideal subject. In low light or at short subject distances the focus hunting at longer focal lengths can drag out to two seconds or more, which seriously limits the usefulness of the camera for any non-stationary subjects. For less demanding subjects, and when using the wider end of the zoom in daylight the focus is not significantly slower than any other big zoom compact, and shutter lag is just the right side of 0.1 seconds.

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. 3,100 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 1.6
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 2.6
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 1.8
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty 1.8
Record Review Image displayed 0.6
Mode: Play to Record   0.6
Mode: Record to Play   1.1
Play: Magnify To full magnification (10x) 2.3
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image 1.0*1
Play: Thumbnail view 2 x 2 thumbnails 0.5*2
Zoom from Wide to Tele 38 to 380 mm (10 x) 1.7
Half-press Lag (Focus time) Wide angle ~0.4
Half-press Lag (Focus time) Telephoto ~0.5-2.0*3
Pre-focus Lag (S1>S2) LCD live view ~0.09
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle ~0.5
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view ~2.5
Shot to Shot Flash off ~1.9
Shot to Shot Flash on ( red eye reduction on / off) 2.3 / 5.6
*1 Low res previews are loaded in around 0.1 seconds, so you can scroll through images fairly quickly. The time mentioned above is to load the full image.
*2 3x3 thumbs take another 0.4 secs, 4x4 thumbs another 0.6 secs.
*3 Focus times vary widely from about 0.45 to 2.05 secs (telephoto), depending on the brightness and contrast of the scene. Focus hunting at the long end of the zoom is fairly common.

Continuous drive mode

The S10 has two continuous shooting modes; Continuous and Multi-shot 16.

The standard Continuous mode at best manages about 1.4 frames per second for about 3 or four shots, after which the speed drops and varies considerably, averaging around 0.9 frames per second. The camera occasionally refocuses when the shots are being written to the buffer, but you do appear to be able to shoot continuously (albeit at a reduced frame rate) until the card is full.

Multi-shot 16 combines 16 shots (at around 1.9 fps) into a single 6MP file as a 4x4 grid.

All-in-all the continuous shooting performance is nothing special, but is more than adequate for the kind of shooting the intended market is likely to need.

File writing / playback performance

The S10 is not particularly speedy when it comes to reading or writing to the card; a full 6MP / Fine image (2.2 MB) takes around 2.3 seconds to write to the card (~1.0 MB/s), and about a second to display in playback mode, but unless you're attempting to shoot long sequences you'll never notice (buffering takes care of that). The use of low resolution thumbs means scrolling through images is actually pretty fast; you only need to wait for the full image to load if you want to magnify or do anything else with the picture.

Battery life

Battery life isn't bad at all; approx 300 shots (CIPA standard, VR on) per charge; though this drops drastically if you use the flash more often. The battery takes around 2 hours to charge from completely flat. The lack of an optical viewfinder means you are always using the LCD screen, so there's not really any way to increase battery life.