A new ad from Nikon in this week's Fortune magazine boasts that its D70 digital SLR is "the only digital SLR in its class to shoot a continuous 144 pictures.*"
A second tagline read, "The new Nikon D70 Digital SLR shoots 3fps for a continuous burst of 144 shots..."
To its credit, the Nikon ad has qualifiers. It limits itself to digital SLRs; and to those in its class (I presume there are no others in its class); and there is an asterisk (*). I am glad for the asterisk, because it decribes the conditions under which the 144 photos were taken:
* JPEG Normal -- lowest quality JPEG?
* Large image setting -- 6.1-megapixel.
* SanDisk SDCHF 256MB Ultra II CompactFlash card -- speedy flash memory?
(My daughter had her hair cut short, and wanted a "good" photo. While she was sitting outdoors talking to friends, I changed my S1 iS into continuous shooting mode, and held down the shutter button. 195 photos later, I let go.)
After reading the Nikon ad, I decided to go all the way: how many continuous photos could the S1 iS take? The settings were:
* JPEG Normal
* Large image setting -- 3.1-megapixel.
* Lexar 64MB 4x CompactFlash card.
Walking around the house, the camera took 365 photos when the memory card filled up. The photos were taken in 3 min 47 secs -- effectively 1.6 photos per second.
I redid the test, this time with the IBM 1GB microdrive -- greater capacity, and faster than flash memory. After several hundred photos, the camera's buffer memory was at its limit; after every second photo, the display showed "Busy" for a moment. After a while, my finger holding the shutter button grew tired, then sore. With my free hand, I used a calculator to estimate it would take 26 minutes to fill the card.Then I wondered about the batteries: would thy last? Would my index finger last, it now feeling numb.Switching to another finger, I could smell "electrical"; the camera was heating up from the non-stop action. And then the batteries did die...
Still, the S1 iS captured 2,925 CONTINUOUS photos in 54 minutes, a rate of 0.9 photos per second (with room for another 550). The slower rate is due to the full buffer. The /## in the photo shows that the camera has trouble fully displaying all digits of memory cards with multi-thousand photos.