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'Picky Details' for the Nikon Coolpix 3100 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

Timing

I measure both cycle times and shutter delay times, using a test system I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the Nikon Coolpix 3100:

NOTE: My qualitative characterizations of camera performance below (that is, "reasonably fast," "about average," etc.) are meant to be relative to other cameras of similar price and general capabilities. Thus, the same shutter lag that's "very fast" for a low-end consumer camera might be characterized as "quite slow" if I encountered it on a professional model. The comments are also intended as only a quick reference: If performance specs are critical for you, rely on the absolute numbers to compare cameras, rather than my purely qualitative comments.

Nikon Coolpix 3100 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
5.6
Coolpix startup screen appears and lens extends forward. Slower than average.
Shutdown
2.3
Lens retracts. Average to a bit faster than average.
Play to Record, first shot
0.96
Time until first shot is captured. Faster than average.
Record to play
0.85
Time to display a large/fine file after capture. Faster than average.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.84/0.86
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Somewhat faster than average. (Average is 0.9-1.1)
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.101
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. A good bit faster than average. (Average is 0.2-0.3 seconds)
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
2.1-7.4
4.83
First numbers are for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Times are averages. The camera displays an auto review of each shot, which cannot be canceled. First two images in large/fine mode captured with interval of 2.1 seconds, next image takes 7.4 seconds. (Two-frame buffer memory?) Small/basic images all show the same cycle time of ~4.8 seconds.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution
0.95/0.67
(1.0/1.5 fps)
First pair of numbers is for large/fine, second set for small/basic files. Numbers beneath are corresponding frames per second. In large/fine mode, captured 3 frames before forcing a wait of ~11 seconds for the buffer to empty. In small/basic mode, captured ~65 frames, then takes ~76 seconds to clear.

Overall, the Coolpix 3500 is a fairly fast little camera, coming out a bit faster than average on most measures, apart from the somewhat leisurely startup time. Shutter lag is slightly faster than average. (I do consider the average shutter lag of digicams to be *much* too slow, but the 3100 is slightly better than most.) Cycle times are competetive for the first two shots snapped in rapid sequence, but slow quite after that unless you wait a few seconds for the memory buffer to clear. Continuous-mode cycle time is OK at about 1 frame/second, but many full-sized cameras are three times that fast. All in all though, decent performance figures for a compact digicam.


Power

The Coolpix 3100 can use a pair of rechargeable NiMH AA batteries, one CRV3 lithium battery or two LR6 AA nickel manganese batteries for power.

The table below shows the Coolpix 3100's power consumption in various modes, and approximate run times for each, based a pair of NiMH batteries with a (true, not advertised) 1600 mAh capacity.

 

Operating Mode
Power
(@4.2 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(2 true 1600 mAh capacity NiMH AA cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
662 mA
83
Capture Mode, no LCD
9 mA
4 days (!)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
663 mA
83
Half-pressed w/o LCD
523 mA
105
Memory Write (transient)
688 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
170 mA
n/a
Image Playback
398 mA
138

 

The Coolpix 3100's battery life is a bit better than average for a compact digicam. (And my projected run times shown above are a little conservative these days, given that they're based on rechargeable AA cells with a true capacity of 1600 mAh - Cells are currently available with true capacities as high as 1800 mAh.) The extremely low power drain in record mode with the LCD turned off is particularly welcome, although the optical viewfinders on most digicams aren't accurate enough to rely on them for critical framing.

As always, I highly recommend picking up a couple of sets of high-capacity rechargeable batteries, and keeping a spare set freshly charged at all times. Click here to read my "battery shootout" page to see which batteries currently on the market are best, or here for my review of the Maha C-204F charger, my longtime favorite.


Storage Capacity
The Coolpix 3100 stores its photos on CompactFlash memory cards, and a 16MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 64MB card, preferably a 128MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 16MB card at each size/quality setting.

 

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
16MB Memory Card
Fine
Normal
2,048 x 1,536 Images
(Avg size)
10
1,600KB
19
821KB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 12:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
- 31
512KB
Approx.
Compression
- 11:1
1,024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
-
69
230KB
Approx.
Compression
-
10:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
-
144
111KB
Approx.
Compression
-
8:1

 

Download Speed
The Coolpix 3100 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to a dual 1 GHz PowerMac G4 (OS X, version 10.2.3), I clocked it at 425 KBytes/second. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast ones run as high as 600 KB/s.) 

3100 Review
3100 Test Images
3100 Specifications
3100 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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