Nikon Coolpix P90 Performance

Timing and Performance

About average performance for an ultrazoom digicam.


Power on
to first shot

2.8 seconds

Time it takes for LCD to turn on and lens to deploy and capture a picture.


1.1 seconds

How long it takes to retract lens.

Buffer clearing time

18 seconds
(after 13 L/F JPEGs)

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.

Fair times here, for a long-zoom.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus Wide

0.534 second

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

Full Autofocus Tele

0.481 second

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

Full Autofocus Wide
Flash enabled

0.842 second

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


0.015 second

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

Shutter response is about average at wide-angle, at 0.53s. At full telephoto, it is faster than average for a long-zoom, at 0.48s. Enabling the flash increases lag time to 0.84 second. "Prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure results in a lag time of only 0.015 second, which is commendable.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
2.02 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
Active D-Lighting On
2.23 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
Distortion Control On
3.20 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Early shutter

Yes w/flash;
No w/out flash

Some cameras don't 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

0.72 second (1.39 frames per second);
13 frames total;
18 seconds to clear

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

Flash recycling

6.6 seconds*

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC 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 about average, at about 2.02 seconds for large/fine JPEGs, and the camera captures frames continuously at this rate. (That is, given a fast enough memory card, it doesn't have to pause every few frames to wait for the card to catch up.) Enabling functions like Active D-Lighting and Distortion Control lengthens those times. The camera's Continuous mode only captures frames at 1.39 frames per second, which is on the slow side, though the P90 does offer a Sport Continuous mode that shoots up to 11 frames per second at 3 megapixels, and up to 15 frames per second at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution.

The flash takes about 6.6 seconds to recycle, though this was difficult to measure as the camera gives no indication of flash readiness without the user repeatedly pressing the Shutter button. Our tester noted that if you sit and half-press the Shutter button waiting for the flash, the camera will indefinitely tell you the flash is charging. Thus, he had to continually half-press the Shutter button to see when the flash was charged, resulting in an untrustworthy measurement of about 6.6 seconds.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

2,973 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 very good.

Overall, the Nikon Coolpix P90's performance is about average for an ultrazoom camera, from cycle times to shutter lag to startup time. Full resolution continuous speed isn't zippy enough for fast-paced action, however the Sport Continuous modes are quite fast, if you don't mind the low resolution.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Lower than average battery life for a lithium-ion design.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(Based on CIPA standard)

The Nikon Coolpix P90 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Since battery life is modest, 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 a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on Sony's standard test conditions.

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

The Nikon P90 accepts SD/SDHC memory cards, and includes about 47MB of internal memory.

Image Capacity with
47MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal Basic
4,000 x 3,000
File Size
5.9 MB
2.9 MB
1.5 MB
3,264 x 2,448
File Size
3.9 MB
2.0 MB
979 KB
2,592 x 1,944
File Size
2.5 MB
1.2 MB
627 KB
2,048 x 1,536
File Size
1.5 MB
783 KB
412 KB
1,600 x 1,200
File Size
940 KB
490 KB
275 KB
1,280 x 960
File Size
610 KB
336 KB
184 KB
1,024 x 768
File Size
412 KB
229 KB
137 KB
640 x 480
File Size
184 KB
122 KB
76 KB

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/SDHC. These days, 2GB cards are inexpensive, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, 4GB should be a minimum.


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