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"Picky Details" for the Nikon Coolpix 5200 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

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 Nikon Coolpix 5200:

Nikon Coolpix 5200 Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. Average to a little slower than average.
1- 15
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Fast for lens retract, on the slow side for buffer clearing.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Very fast.
Record to play
3.0 / 1.0
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. About average.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. On the slow side of average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Quite fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

2.12 /

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. No apparent buffer memory, the camera writes to the card continuously after each shot, finishing in 1 second for TV size images, 2 seconds for large/fine images.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.52 / 0.41
(1.9/2.4 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 6-8 this fast, then pauses for about 2.5 seconds, and continues. Buffer takes up to 14 seconds to clear. In TV mode, shoots continuously at this speed apparently never filling the buffer. Pretty fast.
Cycle Time, "Last 5" mode, max/min resolution 0.50 / 0.40
(2.0 / 2.5 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Times are averages. Shoots 5 images this fast, beginning when you let up on the shutter button. Buffer clears in 6 seconds for large/fine shots, in 3 seconds for "TV" sized images, and it's ready for 5 more. Pretty fast.
Cycle Time, continuous Multi 16 mode 0.30
(3.33 fps)
Camera captures 648 x 486 pixel images, stores them in 4x4 arrays inside normal 2592x1944 files. Every 16 shots, the camera pauses for 2 seconds to write the images to a file, after which it captures another 16 frames at the 3.33 fps rate. Quite fast, nice to see the higher resolution on a multi-shot mode like this. (Many cameras with multi-shot modes have lower resolution sub-images, typically 320x240 pixels.)

The Coolpix 5200's shutter response is a bit slower than average, with lag times ranging from 0.87 to 1.17 seconds. (Average is 0.8-1.0 seconds, still too slow in my opinion.) Prefocus lag time is much better, at 0.124 second. Cycle times are average, at right around 2 seconds per frame. Continuous-mode operation is fairly good, with frame rates of 1.9 - 2.5 frames/second, 4-8 shots of buffer capacity with large/fine files, and a useful "last 5" mode for grabbing photos before you release the shutter button. Overall, not a first choice for fast-paced action, but the good prefocus performance and good buffer depth in continuous mode are some help.

Because it uses a custom power connector, I couldn't conduct my usual detailed power consumption measurements on the Coolpix 5200. A simple run-down test with the camera in its worst-case power drain mode (capture mode, with the LCD turned on) gave run times of a bit over an hour, decidedly on the short side of average. Definitely plan on purchasing a second battery along with the 5200, and keep it fully charged as a spare.

Storage Capacity
The Nikon stores its photos in internal memory or on SD memory cards. No memory card is provided with the camera, but approximately 12 MB of internal memory is available for photo storage. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 128 MB card, preferably a 256 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored in internal memory at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
12 MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
2,592 x 1,944 Images
(Avg size)
2.8 MB
1.5 MB
762 KB
5:1 10:1 20:1
1,536 x 2,048 Images
(Avg size)
1.8 MB
934 KB
500 KB
5:1 10:1 19:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
1.1 MB
595 KB
331 KB
5:1 10:1 17:1
1,024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
500 KB
283 KB
1174 KB
5:1 9:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
235 KB
150 KB
128 KB
4:1 6:1


Download Speed
The Nikon 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 873 KBytes/second. This is faster than cameras with USB v1.1 interfaces can download, but is on the lower end of the range for models with USB v2.0 connections. Still, it's more than fast enough that you should feel no need for an external card reader. (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.)

5200 Review
5200 Test Images
5200 Specifications
5200 "Picky Details"
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