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"Picky Details" for the Nikon Coolpix 5900 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 5900:

Nikon Coolpix 5900 Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. On the slow side of average.
2.4 - 35
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. First time is about average, second time is slow, but corresponds to clearing 100 small/basic images from the camera's buffer memory.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Fairly fast.
Record to play
3.3/ 1.1
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. Average.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.65 / 0.78
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. On the fast side of average.

Shutter lag, continuous autofocus

As usual, no benefit to continuous autofocus for stationary objects. (May help some with moving subjects, but I don't have any good way to test that.)
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

1.84 / 1.82

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. Shoots 6 large/fine frames this fast, then slows to about 2.5 seconds per shot. In TV mode, maintains this pace indefinitely. Buffer clears in 6 seconds for large/fine images, 2 seconds for lowest resolution. About average for this class of camera.
Cycle Time, flash exposures, flash at maximum power output ~7 sec. On the slow side, but not as bad as many compact digital cameras.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.61 /0.56
(1.65 / 1.78fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. Shoots 6 frames at this rate in large/fine mode, then slows to about 2.5 seconds per shot. In TV mode, maintains this pace for more than 100 shots. Buffer clears in 9 seconds for large/fine images, 33 seconds for lowest resolution. Buffer clearing times measured with Lexar 32x SD card, slower cards could take longer. About average for a camera of this class, better than many compact models.
Cycle Time, "5 shot buffer" mode, max/min resolution 0.91
(1.10 fps)
Times are averages. Shoots at this pace regardless of resolution, and stores the last five frames taken before the shutter button is released. Buffer clears in 4 seconds for large/fine shots, in 2 seconds for "TV" sized images. Buffer clearing times measured with Lexar 32x SD card, slower cards could take longer. Not very fast for this sort of mode, below average.
Cycle Time, continuous "Multi Shot 16" mode 0.50
(2.0 fps)
Camera captures 648 x 486 pixel images, stores them in 4x4 arrays inside normal 2592 x 1944 files. Shoots 16 shots 0.50 seconds apart, pauses about a second, then takes 16 more. Clears the buffer in 2 seconds. Fast, but I'm a little surprised it isn't faster, as multi-shot modes like this usually are.

Slightly faster than average shutter response, average shot to shot cycle times. Apart from its blazingly shutter response time when you "prefocus" it by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself, the Nikon 5900 is just average in its timing performance. Shutter lag in full autofocus mode is a bit faster than average, particularly at the wide angle end of its zoom range, shot to shot cycle times are right about average at ~1.8 seconds/frame. Continuous-mode speed is also average, at about 1.65 frames/second. Flash recharge is on the slow side at ~7 seconds after a full-power pulse, but not as bad as that of some digital cameras, particularly compact models.



The Nikon Coolpix 5900 uses a custom rechargeable LiIon battery for power, and has no external power terminal, so I couldn't conduct my normal battery-life tests. In a simple run-down test in record mode with the LCD illuminated (the camera's worst-case power mode), a freshly charged battery lasted 155 minutes. This very good for a compact digital camera like the 5900, but I do recommend that you purchase a second battery if you plan any really extended excursions with it. (Particularly since the poor viewfinder accuracy means that you'll find yourself using the power-hungry LCD viewfinder more often than not.)


Storage Capacity

The Nikon Coolpix 5900 stores its photos on SD / MMC memory cards, or in approximately 13.5 MB of internal memory. No memory 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 in the internal memory at each size/quality setting.


Image Capacity vs
13.5 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
2592 x 1944
(Avg size)
2.6 MB
1.3 MB
681 KB
6:1 12:1 22:1
2048 x 1536
(Avg size)
1.6 MB
831 KB
432 KB
6:1 11:1 22:1
1600 x 1200
(Avg size)
1.0 MB
531 KB
282 KB
6:1 11:1 20:1
1024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
427 KB
246 KB
147 KB
6:1 10:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
196 KB
115 KB
83 KB
5:1 8:1


Download Speed

The Nikon Coolpix 5900 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 745 KBytes/second, a respectable rate that's fast enough that most users won't find any need of 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.)

5900 Review
5900 Test Images
5900 Specifications
5900 "Picky Details"
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