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"Picky Details" for the Nikon Coolpix 4600 Digital Camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

 

Timing

When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time or delay before the shutter actually fires. This corresponds to the time required for 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 rarely reported on (and even more rarely reported accurately), and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I routinely measure both shutter delay and shot to shot cycle times for all cameras I test, 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 4600:

 

Nikon Coolpix 4600 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
3.9
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. On the slow side of average.
Shutdown
3.4 - 151
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Average, the second time is very long, but corresponds to clearing 77 small/basic shots from the buffer memory. (Still very slow, when compared to other cameras.)
Play to Record, first shot
1.1
Time until first shot is captured. About average.
Record to play
4.3 / 0.6
First time is that required to display a large/fine file immediately after capture, second time is that needed to display a large/fine file that has already been processed and stored on the memory card. First time is rather slow, second time is pretty good.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.58 / 0.60
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Faster than average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.078
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

1.90 / 1.92

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. Shoots 4 images this fast in large/fine mode, then slows to an irregular pace of about 3 seconds per shot. In TV mode, shoots over 40 shots this fast without slowing. Buffer clears in 6 seconds for large/fine images, 31 seconds for lowest resolution. Buffer clearing times measured with Lexar 32x SD card, slower cards could take longer. About average for a camera of this class.
Cycle Time, flash exposures, flash at maximum power output ~12 sec Very slow, if you plan a lot of flash shots, this camera may not be for you.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.70 / 0.67
(1.42 / 1.49 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. Shoots 4 images this fast in large/fine mode, then slows to about 5 seconds per shot. In TV mode, shoots over 77 shots this fast, then slows to about 5.3 seconds per shot.. Buffer clears in 12 seconds for large/fine images, a whopping 148 seconds after 80 shots at lowest resolution. Buffer clearing times measured with Lexar 32x SD card, slower cards could take longer. About average for a camera of this class, better than many compact models.
Cycle Time, continuous Multi 16 mode 0.44
(2.29 fps)
Camera captures 572 x 428 pixel images, stores them in 4x4 arrays inside normal 2288 x 1712 files. Ticks off 16 shots at a steady 0.44 second pace. Every 16 shots, the camera pauses for 2.85 seconds to write the images to a file, after which it captures another 16 frames at the 2.29 fps rate. Fast, but I'm a little surprised it isn't faster, as multi-shot modes like this usually are.

Faster than average shutter response, average shot to shot cycle times. In full-autofocus mode, the Nikon 4600 responds to the shutter a bit more quickly than most competing cameras, with typical shutter delays ranging from 0.58 - 0.60 second. When you "prefocus" it by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself, the shutter delay drops to an amazing 0.078 second. Cycle times are about average, at roughly 1.9 seconds/frame, and continuous-mode speed is pretty good for an entry-level camera, at 1.49 frames/second. The big limitation is its flash recharge time, taking about 12 seconds to get ready for the next shot after a full-power flash pulse. (This is longer than it sounds, the flash recharge seems interminable when you're waiting to take the next shot of your subject.)

 

Power

Good battery life for a camera running from two AA cells. The Nikon Coolpix 4600 uses two AA batteries for power, but its lack of a standard external power terminal prevented me from conducting my standard power measurements. It does seem to have pretty good battery life, particularly if you run it from high-capacity rechargeable NiMH cells. Not being able to measure the battery life directly, we have to rely upon Nikon's stated battery life specs, based on the CIPA standard. Under CIPA conditions (zoom adjusted on each shot, flash used in approximately 1/2 of the shots), Nikon reports battery life as 230 shots with alkaline batteries, 360 shots with their own EN-MH1 NiMH batteries, or 630 frames with lithium cells. Although we don't know what capacity Nikon's NiMH cells have, 360 shots per charge is a very respectable number. As always though, I strongly recommend picking up a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH cells and a good-quality NiMH battery charger. (Don't skimp on the charger, a poor one won't give you the maximum capacity your batteries are capable of, could even shorten battery life considerably.)

 

Storage Capacity

The Nikon Coolpix 4600 stores its photos on SD / MMC memory cards or in approximately 14 MB of internal memory. No card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 64 MB card, preferably a 128 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored in the internal memory at each size/quality setting.

 

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
14 MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
2288 x 1712 Images
(Avg size)
7
2.1 MB
14
1.0 MB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 11:1
1600 x 1200 Images
(Avg size)
- 26
542 KB
Approx.
Compression
- 11:1
1024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
- 57
253 KB
Approx.
Compression
- 9:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
-

122
118 KB

Approx.
Compression
- 8:1

 

Download Speed

The Nikon Coolpix 4600 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony desktop running Windows XP (Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz), I clocked it at 536 KBytes/second, a little slow by current standards, but fast enough that most users won't feel any need for an external card reader. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast v1.1 interfaces run as high as 600 KB/s. Cameras with USB v2.0 interfaces run as fast as several megabytes/second.)

 

4600 Review
4600 Test Images
4600 Specifications
4600 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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