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Nikon CoolPix 4500

Nikon updates the hugely successful Coolpix 995, adding a full 4.0-megapixel CCD!

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Page 7:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 5/29/2002

Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time is to allow the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I now routinely measure it with a custom test system I constructed for the purpose. (With crystal-controlled timing, accurate to 0.01% and with a timing resolution of 1 millisecond.)

Coolpix 4500 Timings
Time (secs)
Normal Card
Power On -> First shot
Variable, depending on zoom startup setting, 5.0 seconds is about typical. Slightly faster than the 995.
"Shutdown" can be zero if card isn't writing, as no external lens retraction to wait for. Longest time shown is when camera is writing a TIFF file, until card can be removed.
Play to Record, first shot
Shortest time is from quick review to first capture. Next time is for playback mode/full screen to first capture. Both are quite fast.
Record to play (max/min res)
Longest time is for TIFF file format, shorter times are for max/min res JPEG formats. (Small file oddly takes longer to display than larger one. )Second set of times are for switch to playback immediately after capturing a file. (Not auto review.) JPEG times are quite fast overall, but immediate switch to playback times are a bit slow.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.08 - 1.25
A good bit slower than average, albeit faster than the prototype 4500 I originally tested. (Average is about 0.9 - 1.0) Oddly, lag time is longer for wide angle shots than telephoto. (Most digicams are faster at wide angle.)
Shutter lag, continuous autofocus
Actually, slightly slower than normal autofocus.
Shutter lag, manual focus
Rather slow for manual focus mode. (Average is about 0.50)
Shutter lag, prefocus
About average, slower than some competing models. (Average is about 0.3 across all cameras tested, but higher-end models are frequently faster.)
Cycle time, large/fine files
Shorter time is for first 5-7 shots, then slows to second time shown. Moderately fast before buffer full, large buffer, and quite fast response after buffer is full. Post-buffer cycle time is ~4.7 seconds with slower cards. Buffer clear time ranges from 10.4 seconds for fast card like SimpleTech 512, to ~23 sec for slow card like Mr. Flash 256.)
Cycle time, small/basic files
Somewhat variable times, oddly not much faster than large/fine files.
Cycle time, TIFF files
23.8-38.6 (!)
TIFF mode files are huge, take a long time to write. (A fast card is a help here, faster times shown are with SimpleTech 512 and Lexar 12x 256 - times within a second or so between the two.) No buffer available, you have to wait this long before you can snap the next shot. A fair bit faster than the 995 though.
Continuous mode, large files
14.7 to buff clear
First time is for first 7 shots, then wait for buffer to clear. (Buff clear time on fast card)
Continuous mode, small files

32.3 to buf clear

Huge 100 frame buffer capacity for small/basic files, but surprisingly long buffer clear time even with fast card.
Ultra High Speed
(30 frames/sec)
Pretty amazingly fast, but some jitter between frames. Great for golf/tennis swings, but not so good for scientific applications.


Speed tests on the 4500 were a little disappointing. Shot to shot cycle times were quite good, but shutter lag was slower than average, even when the lens was manually focused. All timings were confirmed with a production model.

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