Nikon P3 Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix P3 Performance


Timing and Performance

Good to average speed for a consumer camera. Unusually slow shutdown, however.

Startup/Shutdown
Power on
to first shot
2.6 seconds
Time it takes for LCD to turn on and lens to deploy.
Shutdown
3.4 seconds
How long it takes to cover lens to stow camera in your pocket.
Buffer clearing time
3 seconds
(Large/Fine JPEG,
Unlimited shots in
continuous mode)
Worst case buffer clearing time.* This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't retract their lenses and shut down until the buffer is cleared.
Mode switching
Play to Record,
first shot
1.0 seconds
Time until first shot is captured
Record to play
3.0 seconds
Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture
Display
recorded image
0.3 second
Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.
Shutter response (Lag Time):
Full Autofocus Wide
1.18 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at wide angle position.
Full Autofocus Tele
1.25 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at telephoto position.
Continuous Autofocus
1.18 second
Continuous AF can sometimes help with moving subjects, but we have no way to reliably measure AF response under those conditions. No advantage for stationary targets.
Prefocused
0.154 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.
Cycle time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
3.08 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots
Single Shot mode
640x480 JPEG
2.83 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots
Early shutter
penalty?
No
(Or almost not...)
Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer. The Nikon P3 will freeze if you hit the shutter button again immediately after the shot, but if you pause for just a fraction of a second, it does fine.
Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.58 second
(1.72 frames/second);
Slows to 1.56 sec
~1.56 seconds to clear*
Time per shot, averaged over 3-shot buffer length.
Continuous mode
640x480 JPEG
0.58 second
(1.72 frames/second);
No limit w/fast card*;
~1 second to clear
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Flash recycling
8.4 seconds
Flash at maximum output
Download speed
Windows Computer, USB 2.0
715 KBytes/sec
Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-770=USB 2.0 Low;
771-4000=USB 2.0 High
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a Kingston Ultimate 120x SD memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode.

The Nikon Coolpix P3's performance ranges from quick to just average, depending on what you're trying to do. Startup and shutdown are average and autofocus shutter lag is longer than average. But if you prefocus the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure, shutter delay is better than average, with a lag of only 0.15 second. Shot-to-shot cycle times are average as is continuous-mode speed, at a bit under two frames/second, for up to three shots in succession. The flash takes about eight seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, but its got a better than average range. Connected to a computer, download speeds are reasonably fast, so plugging the camera in will probably be adequate if you don't want to wait for WiFi at about six seconds an image. Overall, the Nikon Coolpix P3 should be responsive enough for typical consumer needs, but its shutter lag is long by current standards and would likely cause you to miss the cute expression on Baby's face if you weren't pre-focusing. Though the Continuous shooting mode is a little slower than average, it should be sufficient for family snapshots and the average little league game.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Good battery life except when using WiFi.

Test Condition
Number of Shots
Li-ion Rechargeable Battery
200

The Nikon P3 uses a custom rechargeable Li-ion battery for power.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions. We normally always recommend picking up a spare battery and keeping it freshly charged and on-hand for long outings, and that's especially true for the Nikon Coolpix P3 if you plan to use WiFi much.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
No card is included with the Nikon Coolpix P3, although it accepts Secure Digital cards; 23MB RAM is built into the camera.

Image Capacity with
23MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
3,264 x 2,448
Images 6 12
File Size 4 MB 2 MB
2,592 x 1,944 Images 6 11
File Size 2.5 MB 1.3 MB
2,048 x 1,536 Images 17 33
File Size 1.6 MB 831 KB
1,024 x 768 Images 62 112
File Size 440 KB 244 KB
640 x 480
Images 140 241
File Size 196 KB 114 KB

The Nikon Coolpix P3 stores its photos on Secure Digital memory cards or in approximately 23MB of internal memory. No card is included with the camera.

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/MMC memory card at least a 256MB card, preferably a 512MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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