Nikon Coolpix P5100 Performance

Timing and Performance

Fairly slow to slightly above average speed for a consumer camera.


Power on
to first shot

3.3 seconds

Time it takes for LCD to turn on, lens to deploy, and camera to fire a first shot.


1.6 seconds

How long it takes to retract lens.

Buffer clearing time

5.0 seconds
(3 seconds buffer clearing in LF 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.

Start-up and shut-down times are sluggish, though startup time can be improved by disabling the Welcome screen using the Setup menu.

Mode switching

Play to Record,
first shot

0.8 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

0.9 second

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

recorded image

0.7 second

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

Mode switching times are above average.

Shutter response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus Wide

0.68 second

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

Full Autofocus Tele

0.75 second

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


0.066 second

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

Continuous AF
0.84 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.

Shutter lag at full wide angle is slightly better than average for its class, at 0.68 second. At full telephoto, shutter response is also better than average at 0.75 second. "Prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure results in a much faster lag time of only 0.066 second. As usual, continuous autofocus mode does not offer a decrease in lag time.

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

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
640x480 JPEG

1.90 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Early shutter


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

1.45 seconds (0.69 frames per second);
3 frames total;
3 seconds to clear

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

Multi-shot 16 mode
5MP Normal JPEG
1.02 seconds (0.98 frames per second);
16 frames total;
1 second to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.

Continuous mode
640x480 JPEG

1.09 seconds (0.92 frames per second);
14 frames total;
5 seconds to clear

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

Flash recycling

6 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*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.

Shot-to-shot cycle times are on the slower side of average, at about 2.60 seconds for large/fine JPEGs, and the camera appears to capture shots continuously in single-shot mode without having to stop and clear the buffer. Continuous burst mode is also on the slower side, at 0.69 frames-per-second for 3 large/fine JPEG frames. Keep in mind the very large 4,000 x 3,000 resolution though; that's a lot of data to deal with and write to the memory card for every shot. The Multi-shot 16 mode that captures five megapixel normal quality images was able to capture 16 frames at about one frame-per-second. The flash takes 6 seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, which is also about average.

Download speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

692 KBytes/sec

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

Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds are slower than most cameras in 2007 / 2008.

Bottom line, the Coolpix P5100 is responsive enough for posed portraits and scenery, but likely not fast enough for moving subjects.

Battery and Storage Capacity

About average battery life for a lithium-ion design.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery, LCD On
(CIPA standard)

The Nikon Coolpix P5100 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Since battery life is about average, we recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.

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.

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

The Nikon Coolpix P5100 accepts SDHC/SD/MMC memory cards, and includes about 48MB of usable internal memory.

Image Capacity with
48MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal Basic
4,000 x 3,000
File Size
6.3 MB
3.2 MB
1.6 MB
3,264 x 2,448
File Size
4.2 MB
2.1 MB
1.1 MB
2,592 x 1,944
File Size
2.6 MB
1.3 MB
695 KB
2,048 x 1,536
File Size
1.7 MB
864 KB
457 KB
1,600 x 1,200
File Size
1.0 MB
542 KB
305 KB
1,280 x 960
File Size
678 KB
373 KB
203 KB
1,024 x 768
File Size
457 KB
254 KB
152 KB
640 x 480
File Size
203 KB
136 KB
81 KB

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SDHC or SD memory card at least a 1GB card, preferably a 4GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings and video. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)


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