One of the most common complaints I field about the HS20 is the lack of shot to shot speed. This also applies to the HS10 and the HS30 ( which is a mite quicker than the others ).
There’s a perception that to take good images with these cameras you have to use the maximum pixels or the maximum file size if using EXR Dr. Anyone who has ever used these cameras knows that images taken at 4:3 (full res ) can be damned slowed shot to shot times. The HS20 is no speed demon when writing to the memory card. A good class 10 card or better helps, but doesn’t improve matters greatly.
However if you combine this with a lower file size and image ratio, things can improve quite a bit, especially for those wanting to shoot “Top Four” or more shots in one sequence.
There’s been numerous arguments as to the best method of shooting the HS20 & HS30 for best output. Its not a debate we will get into here.
What I would suggest is you try the following and see what you get.
For this exercise I selected Auto ISO 400, 16:9-M image size, spot metering, and continuous focusing.
Modes used were P Mode, EXR HR and EXR DR. No changes were made to any of the previous settings and I used 80 mm equivalent as the focal length. The point of this was to test the speed improvement and to see if a good level of IQ could be achieved. To further test this setup I used a 1 gig class 6 memory card. This has very slow write times and if there was any improvement it should be more easily seen.
Suffice to say that the write times and shot to shot times improved by 50% or more, which is good news if you don’t have a newer class 10 card. My current class 10 card no longer works with my HS20 and I don’t know why, but it no longer sees this card. I have a new one coming, but its an issue I don’t want to see continuing, hence this test with a slower than usual memory card.
Now to the image quality issue. You may well think that a drop in image size and pixel amount would lead to poorer quality. There again theres a happy outcome to this as well. At 6mp @ 16:9 the HS20 isn’t putting out huge files. Typically they seem to range from 2.9 meg to 3.2 meg depending upon the mode used. You may think that that isn’t a lot of image data to work with but you would be surprised at just how much headroom there is in the Jpegs. Its interesting to note that the P mode images seemed to be considerably over cooked compared with the EXR modes which handle the dynamic range a lot more efficiently. In the EXR images I did a light sharpen and increase in contrast and bumped up the saturation a few points and that was it. The P mode images required significant gamma removal before sharpening and adding contrast. In all cases there is plenty of room to move for editing and any of these three modes will give good results. One item to remember however is if you shoot in HR mode at Auto ISO 400 you will not get the increased DR that you do in EXR DR & P modes.
Its well worth keeping that in mind if you are shooting in bright sunny conditions. P & DR modes will serve you better in maintaining good shadow and highlight detail.
One final note to the above is that this setup does not work if shooting raw as RAW always uses the full image recorded by the sensor.