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"Picky Details" for the Panasonic DMC-FZ4 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 Panasonic DMC-FZ4:

Panasonic DMC-FZ4 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
2.7
LCD turns on, lens extends forward. Average to a bit faster than average for a camera with a telescoping lens.
Shutdown
4 - 7
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. First time is on the slow side, second time is quite fast.
Play to Record, first shot
0.4
Time until first shot is captured. Quite fast.
Record to play
1.8 / 0.9
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. Both times are fairly fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.32 / 0.39
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Very fast, especially for a long-zoom camera.

Shutter lag, continuous autofocus

0.33
As usual, continuous AF conveys no speed benefit for static subjects. (We don't have any good way of testing performance with moving subjects, so there may be some advantage there.)
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.150
"Focus Trigger" button. Quite fast.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.146
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Fast, but not exceptionally so.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

0.55 /
0.57

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In both modes, clears the buffer before allowing next shot. Very fast for single-shot mode.
Cycle Time, max resolution TIFF 1.81 Times are averages. Clears the buffer before allowing next shot. Very fast for TIFF mode.
Cycle Time, Flash exposures 3 Flash at maximum power output. Very quick flash recycle.
Cycle Time, continuous High mode, max/min resolution 0.28 / 0.27
(3.60 / 3.75 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. Shoots a burst of 5 frames in large/fine mode, or 10 frames in TV mode. Buffer clears in about a second in either mode, and it's ready for another burst. Very fast, good buffer depth.
Cycle Time, continuous Low mode, max/min resolution 0.47
(2.14 fps)
Shoots at the same rate for large/fine files or "TV" size images. Times are averages. Shoots a burst of 5 frames in large/fine mode, or 11 frames in TV mode. Buffer clears in about a second in either mode, and it's ready for another burst. Fairly fast, but not much benefit in terms of buffer depth.
Cycle Time, continuous "Infinite" mode, max/min resolution 0.40
(2.50 fps)
Shoots at the same rate for large/fine files or "TV" size images. Times are averages. Maintains this pace until card fills. Very fast, considering the essentially unlimited sequence length. (Tested with a Lexar 32x SD card, slower cards may impose limits.)

Only average on startup, but really excellent shutter response, excellent cycle times. The Panasonic FZ4 is only average in getting its lens deployed when you first turn it on, but after that it's very fast indeed. Shutter response is really excellent with a full-autofocus lag time of 0.32 - 0.39 second. Its shot to shot cycle times are almost unbelievable, at 0.55 second for large/fine JPEGs, regardless of how many shots you take in rapid succession. (That is, there's no arbitrary buffer limit.) Continuous mode speed is also good, ranging from 2.5 frames/second in "unlimited" mode (run lengths limited only by card capacity) to 3.6 frames/second in high-speed continuous mode for up to five large/fine images in rapid succession. Very impressive overall!

 

Power

The Panasonic DMC-FZ4 uses a custom rechargeable 7.2V 680 mAh LiIon battery for power.

Operating Mode
Power
(@8.4 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(LiIon cell)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
250 mA
140
Capture Mode, w/EVF
229 mA
153
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
271 mA
129
Half-pressed w/EVF
260 mA
134
Memory Write (transient)
323 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
521 mA
n/a
Image Playback
122 mA
287

Very good battery life. With a worst-case run time of 140 minutes in capture mode with the rear-panel LCD selected, the Panasonic FZ4's battery life is very good. Despite this good battery life, I still recommend that heavy shooters planning long-term outings purchase a spare right along with the camera.

 

Storage Capacity

The Panasonic DMC-FZ4 stores its photos on SD / MMC memory cards, and an 8 MB 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 on the included 32 MB card at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
8 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal TIFF
2304 x 1728
Images
(Avg size)
4
1.8 MB
8
916 KB
0
13.1 MB
Approx.
Compression
7:1 13:1 -
1600 x 1200 Images
(Avg size)
8
998 KB
15
524 KB
1
6.3 MB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 11:1 -
1280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
12
655 KB
22
360 KB
1
4.1 MB
Approx.
Compression
6:1 10:1 -
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
37
213 KB
61
131 KB
7
1.1 MB
Approx.
Compression
4:1 7:1 -

 

Download Speed

The Panasonic DMC-FZ4 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 789 KBytes/second, a good rate of speed, if not quite matching the fastest models on the market. (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.)

FZ4 Review
FZ4 Test Images
FZ4 Specifications
FZ4 "Picky Details"
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