Nikon S51c Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix S51c Performance


Timing and Performance

Below average speed overall.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

3.8 seconds

Time it takes for LCD to turn on and be ready for a shot.

Shutdown

0.3 second

How long it takes to power down.

Buffer clearing time

2.5 seconds
(after Large/Fine JPEG )

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

1.2 seconds

Time until first shot is captured

Record to play

1.7 seconds

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture

Display
recorded image

1.7 seconds

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Shutter response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus Wide

0.81 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at wide angle position.

Full Autofocus Tele

0.99 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at telephoto position.

Prefocused

0.23 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Cycle time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
3.79 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
640x480 JPEG

3.51 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Early shutter
penalty?

Yes

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

Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG

1.15 seconds (0.87 frames per second);
>20 frames total;
1 second to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Continuous mode
640x480 JPEG

1.03 seconds (0.97 frames per second);
>20 frames total;
1 second to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Flash recycling

6.7 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

Download speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

1,457 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a Kingston Ultimate 133x SD memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity also affects cycle times and burst mode performance, with higher ISOs generally increasing cycle times and reducing burst performance.

Overall, the Nikon Coolpix S51c is a bit sluggish. Start-up time is slow, as are mode-switching times. Shutter lag at wide angle and telephoto zoom settings are both on the slower side, and "prefocus" times (half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure) are longer than average as well. Shot-to-shot cycle times are quite slow, at about 3.8 seconds for large/fine JPEGs, though the camera captures frames continuously at this rate. Continuous-mode speed is also below average these days, capturing only 0.87 frame/second, but for over 20 shots in succession at the large/fine JPEG setting. The flash recycles at a fair rate at 6.7 seconds after a full-power shot. Connected to a computer, download speeds are fast enough that you won't feel a need for a separate card reader. While the S51c's overall timing is considerably slow compared to other consumer digital cameras, it would likely be a good all-around camera for travel and average use, though you'll experience some hesitation during normal shooting.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Below average battery life with the custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion rechargeable battery,
(CIPA standard)
150

The Nikon Coolpix S51c uses a single lithium-ion rechargeable battery for power, and comes with a battery and charger. Because runtimes are quite limited at 150 shots (way below average), I strongly recommend picking up a second battery and keeping it freshly charged for longer outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

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

Storage
The Coolpix S51c accepts SD/SDHC/MMC memory cards, though no card is included; approximately 13MB storage memory is built into the camera.

Image Capacity with
13 MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
3,264 x 2,448
Images
3 5
File Size
4.3 MB 2.3 MB
2,592 x 1,944
Images
9 -
File Size
1.5 MB -
2,048 x 1,536
Images
14 -
File Size
933 KB -
1,024 x 768
Images
44 -
File Size
305 KB -
640 x 480
Images
88 -
File Size
153 KB -

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/SDHC memory card at least a 1GB card, preferably a 2-4GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings and videos. (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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