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

Timing
Because they're such critical performance parameters (that are so seldom reported on), I routinely 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 01 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the Nikon Coolpix SQ:

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 SQ Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
5.0
Nikon startup screen appears. A bit on the slow side, particularly since the lens doesn't have to telescope out.
Shutdown
1.9
About average
Play to Record, first shot
1.64
Time until first shot is captured. About average.
Record to play
0.75
Time to display a large/fine file after capture. Quite fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.90/1.06
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. About average. (Average range is from ~0.8-1.1 seconds)
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.097


Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast. ().2-0.3 seconds is typical.)
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
2.17/1.84
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, but the cycle times are still quite respectable. The SQ seems to have a 5-shot buffer memory in large/fine mode, as I could shoot up to five shots at an average interval of 2.17 seconds, after which I had to wait for about 5 seconds before the next shot. The subsequent set of 5 shots could again be snapped at the same 2.17 second average interval. In small/basic mode, I encountered no buffer delay in up to 15 successive shots. Overall, on the faster side of average.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution
0.73*/0.64*
(1.36/1.57 fps)
First pair of numbers is for large/fine, second set for small/basic files. Numbers beneath are corresponding frames per second. Buffer capacity for large/fine files appears to be 4 frames, 10+ frames for small/basic. *Like many cameras, in continuous mode, the SQ delays longer between the first and second shots than it does between subsequent shots in the series. This second-shot delay is 1.05 seconds in large/fine mode, 0.76 seconds in small/basic mode. Not bad performance for a compact digicam model.

Overall, the Coolpix SQ displays about average speed for a midrange digicam. Startup time is a little long, surprising since the internal lens doesn't need to telescope out into shooting position. Shutter lag times in full autofocus mode are about average at wide angle, a bit towards the slow side of average at the telephoto setting. Prefocus lag time is very short. (This is the shutter delay after the camera has been prefocused by half-pressing and holding the shutter button before the exposure itself.) Cycle times are about average, and the camera has room for about five large/fine shots in its buffer memory before you have to wait for the memory card to catch up.

Power
The Coolpix SQ uses one Li-Ion rechargeable battery for power.

The table below shows the Coolpix SQ's power consumption in various modes, and approximate run times for each, based a single Li-Ion battery with a (true, not advertised) 1000 mAh capacity:

 

Operating Mode
Power
(@3.7 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(3.7v, 1,000 mAh Li-Ion cell)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
711 mA
74
Capture Mode, no LCD
(n/a)
(n/a)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
709 mA
75
Half-pressed w/o LCD
(n/a)
(n/a)
Memory Write (transient)
779 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1279 mA
n/a
Image Playback
522 mA
101

Like many subcompact cameras, the Nikon SQ has only fair battery life. Lacking an optical viewfinder, you're totally dependent on its (excellent) LCD for framing your shots, which means there's no option to conserve battery power by relying on an optical viewfinder. I always recommend purchasing a second battery along with any digicam, but that advice goes double for the Coolpix SQ. With only 74 minutes of run time in capture mode, you'll definitely want to have a spare battery along on any extended outings.


Storage Capacity
The Coolpix SQ 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
Economy
2,016 x 1,512 Images
(Avg size)
9
1,730KB
18
889KB
35
457KB
Approx.
Compression
5:1 10:1 20:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
14
1,103KB
28
571KB
53
302KB
Approx.
Compression
5:1 10:1 20:1
1,024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
34
471KB
63
253KB
111
144KB
Approx.
Compression
5:1
9:1
16:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
77
206KB
133
120KB
205
78KB
Approx.
Compression
5:1
8:1
12:1

 

Download Speed
The Coolpix SQ connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my 2.4 GHz Sony VAIO desktop (Windows XP) through the Cool-Station, I clocked it at 827 KBytes/second, blazingly fast in comparison to other USB-connected digicams. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast ones run as high as 600 KB/s. The very high speed of the Coolpix SQ suggests that it has a USB 2.0 interface.)

 

SQ Review
SQ Sample Pictures
SQ Specifications
SQ "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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