Nikon Coolpix S4 Performance

Timing and Performance

Slower than average speed relative to competing models.

Power On -> First shot
Camera boots and LCD turns on. Reasonably fast.
2.8 - 48
First time is simple shutdown; second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Worst-case buffer clearing time is very long, but corresponds to clearing more than 100 small/basic images from the buffer memory.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Average.
Record to play
3.2 / 0.9
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. First time is a little slow.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.64 / 1.45
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Wide angle is fast, tele is quite slow.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Extremely fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
2.41 /
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 8 frames this fast, then slows to about 3.3 seconds per shot. The buffer clears in 9 seconds. In TV mode, it maintained this pace, filling the buffer only very gradually, and cleared the buffer in 5 seconds. On the slow side of average.
Cycle Time, Flash exposures
(Flash at maximum power output) On the slow side of average.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution
0.73 / 0.68
(1.36 / 1.47 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 8 frames this fast, then slows to about 3.4 seconds per shot. The buffer clears in 10 seconds. In TV mode, it maintained this pace for over 100 shots, but took 45 seconds to clear the buffer. A little slow by today's standards.
Cycle Time, continuous Multi 16 mode
(1.49 fps)
Camera captures 704 x 528 pixel images, stores them in 4x4 arrays inside normal 2816x2112 files. Buffer clears in about a second. Still only modestly fast.
Download speed
Windows Computer, USB 2.0
700 KBytes/sec
Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-770=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

The Coolpix S4's performance is a little sluggish when compared to some of its competition, possibly in part due to its long-ratio zoom lens. While the shutter lag of 0.64 at wide angle is actually quite fast, the 1.45 second delay at telephoto focal lengths is very much on the slow side. The good news is that "prefocusing" by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself helps tremendously, cutting lag to an exceptional 0.063 second. Shot to shot cycle times are a bit slow as well, at about 2.41 seconds for up to eight large/fine JPEGs in succession, and the camera's Continuous-mode is also a little slow, at 0.73 second per shot (1.36 frames per second). The flash takes about eight seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, again on the slow side of average. Connected to a computer, download speeds are fast enough that you probably won't feel a need for a separate card reader, but not up to the levels of the best cameras on the market. Bottom line, the Coolpix S4 won't be the first choice for sports or other fast-paced action, but should still be responsive enough to handle most average shooting conditions. (On the other hand though, if your subjects are such that you can "prefocus" the camera by half-pressing and holding the shutter button before the shot itself, the S4 can be as quick as many professional cameras.)

Battery and Storage Capacity

The Nikon Coolpix S4 uses two AA batteries for power, and ordinary alkaline batteries are included with the camera. Because it doesn't have a standard external power connector, I wasn't able to conduct my usual power consumption tests on it. Based on the CIPA standard though, Nikon claims 160 shots per set of Alkaline AAs, 450 shots with Lithium AAs, or 290 shots with Nikon-branded NiMH cells. Given these relatively modest battery capacity figures, we highly recommend that you purchase a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH cells, and a good-quality charger.

No card is included with the Coolpix S4, although it accepts SD/MMC cards. 13.5MB RAM is built into the camera.

Image Capacity with
13.5MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
2,816 x 2,112 Images 4 9
File Size 3.0MB 1.5MB
2,048 x 1,536 Images - 16
File Size - 837KB
1,024 x 768 Images - 57
File Size - 246KB
640 x 480
Images - 123
File Size - 115KB

I strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/MMC memory card, at least a 128MB card, preferably a 256MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.


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