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Nikon D2H

Nikon introduces an 8 frame/second speed demon, with WiFi connectivity and an amazing new flash system to boot!

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Page 7:Shutter Lag & Cycle Time Tests

Review First Posted: 12/18/2003

Shutter Lag / Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a delay or lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows 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 can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I now routinely measure it, using a custom test system I designed and constructed for the purpose.

Nikon D2H Timings
Time (secs)
Power On -> First shot
Startup is very fast. Given how the on-switch of the D2H works, it was difficult to insure that I started the timing exactly as the power switch was activated. As a result, the standard deviation of the startup times I measured was fully 22% of the average shown at right. Regardless of this though the D2H is clearly the fastest-starting camera I've tested to date.
0 - 120
There's no lens to retract as with many consumer-level cameras, so "shutdown" from quiescent state is nothing more than turning the power switch off. Depending on memory card speed, the number of shots in the buffer, and the speed of the memory card though, it could take as long as two minutes for the camera to finish writing to the memory card.
Play to Record, first shot
The D2H is a "shooting priority" camera, meaning that it's basically always ready to shoot. The time shown at left is the delay between pressing the shutter button when the camera is in playback mode, and it actually capturing the shot. Extremely fast.
Record to play (max res)
Time for a large/fine image to appear on the rear-panel LCD, after pressing the playback button. Very fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
Shutter lag in full autofocus mode will depend a fair bit on the lens being used. These numbers therefore only indicate a range that you might expect. The shortest time shown was measured with the 12-24mm wide-angle zoom lens set to the 12mm focal length. The longest time shown was measured with the 105mm f/2.8 macro lens attached. (The shortest time here is very, very fast.)
Shutter lag, manual focus
Very, very fast, the shortest manual-focus shutter lag I've measured to date. (Essentially the same as the extremely fast shutter lag shown below for the prefocused test condition.)
Shutter lag, prefocus
Very, very fast, the shortest prefocused shutter lag I've measured to date.
Cycle time, large/fine files
Extremely fast, the camera could capture images about as fast as my finger could press the shutter button. Also, the camera captured a huge number of shots before slowing. (Way more than the 20-40 shot buffer would suggest, as the camera/flash card combination evidently kept up with the shooting rate pretty well.)
Cycle time, small/basic files
The same as above, my finger wasn't any faster than the camera.
Cycle time, TIFF/NEF files
Extremely fast, the camera didn't slow to the ~11 second/frame rate until I'd shot 25 images. Buffer clearing times are really long in this mode though, fully 248 seconds with a fast Lexar 40x CF card.
High-Speed Continuous mode, all file formats
(8.03 fps)
No question about it, the D2H is blazingly fast in continuous mode! It achieves this frame rate in all modes and file formats, the only difference being in how long it takes the buffer to clear. Buffer-clear times are 248 seconds with the TIFF file format, 46.7 seconds with uncompressed NEF, 31.8 with compressed NEF, and 27.5 with large/fine JPEG. (All times were measured with a 4 GB, 40x Lexar memory card, slower cards would result in proportionately longer clearing times.

Any way you slice it, the D2H is a blazingly fast camera. Shutter lag is the fastest I've measured on any camera to date, at an astonishing ~45 milliseconds (0.045 seconds). Cycle times are equally amazing, at roughly 0.25 seconds in single-shot mode, and 0.124 seconds in high-speed continuous mode. The camera also has an unusually deep buffer, with a capacity that ranges from 24 to 40 frames, depending on the file format selected. The camera also takes good advantage of fast memory cards like the 4 gigabyte(!) 40x Lexar card the performance numbers above are based on. (Just for comparison's sake, while the D2H emptied a full buffer of uncompressed NEF files to the 40x Lexar card in 46.7 seconds, it took fully 140 seconds for it to dump a full buffer to an old, slow 1GB card by another manufacturer. - The speedup of the 40x card is clearly nowhere near a full 40x in this case, due to the time required for the camera itself to process the images, but the difference is dramatic enough that you'll certainly want to use seriously fast memory card with the D2H.)


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