Lumix G9 SH1/2 Pre-burst

So a little while ago I wrote a blog post here about the G9s 6K Pre-burst function.  My conclusion on this function was that whilst it had its uses its usability, for me, was very much degraded by what I considered to be very poor auto-focus speed.  Further investigation of this issue has not, unfortunately, found a solution – the simple fact is that the 6K photo functions are essentially using video technology including the cameras video auto-focus which is hugely inferior to the lightning fast stills auto-focus system.  Overall therefore I am afraid that 6K photo is for me a disappointment.

However, all is not lost since the G9 also has a two pre-burst functions that can be used in normal stills mode – in some ways these are better than the 6K mode in other ways they are inferior.

In 6K mode the pre-burst function gives you 2 seconds of capture at 30 fps i.e 60 frames in total of which 1 second (30 frames) is pre shutter release and 1 second (30 frames) is post shutter release.

In normal stills mode you can choose to set the continuous drive mode to modes called SH1 PRE (“SH1”) and SH2 PRE (“SH2”) – these give you the following.

In SH1 you can capture 50 frames at 20 fps of which 0.4 seconds (8 frames) will be pre shutter release and 42 will be post shutter release – in total 2.5 seconds.

In SH2 you can capture 50 frames at 60fps of which 0.4 seconds (24 frames) will be pre shutter release and 26 will be post shutter release – in total 0.8 seconds.  It should be noted the SH2 mode only runs at this speed if the auto-focus mode is set to AFS (single) if in AFC (continuous) mode SH2 runs at the same speed as SH1.

The other key difference between 6K and the SH1/2 modes is that 6K mode captures 18mp jpegs whereas the SH1/2 modes can capture full 20.3mp raws.

So how do the SH1/2 modes work out in practice.

Well firstly the good news – the auto-focus is the normal lightening fast stills auto-focus so for me this makes the SH1/2 modes much more usable, it is also clearly a benefit to be able to capture full resolution raw images as opposed to slightly smaller jpegs.  In SH2 mode it is also the case with the very high frame rate you can catch every single moment of action all be it only for a very short period.

Inevitably however there is some not so good news.  The pre shutter release period of just 0.4 seconds is very short, in practice this means you have to be pretty quick on the shutter release in order to capture the moment that you have just seen, this in turn means you have to be careful not to jab at the shutter release which is of course never a good thing.

The worst aspect of the SH1/2 modes is the issue of the cameras buffer – with SH2 the buffer is filled in 0.8 seconds, this really is very rapid and almost impossible to avoid since in effect no sooner have you pressed the shutter button and the buffer is full, you then have a considerable wait for the buffer to clear before you really have full function back, as I only have uhs1 type cards it takes best part of 30 seconds to fully clear the buffer – clearly this is far from ideal.  In 6K mode there is no buffer issue since the camera is recording a video file which it is capable of doing continuously without interuption.

So in conclusion some good and bad aspects of the SH1/2 modes when compared with the 6K mode – I think generally the SH1/2 modes are more usable because of the rapid auto-focus but if this were not an issue then the 6K mode may well be preferred because you can go on shooting without having to wait for the buffer to clear.  Perhaps the best compromise overall is the SH1 mode which whilst slower also means you are less likely to immediately fill the cameras buffer and can therefore be the better option if you are likely to want to shoot mutliple bursts in relatively quick succession – with SH2 this is just not possible.

Enough words here are a few examples of Shrike action that I managed to capture the other day with SH2 – there is no way without the pre shutter release capture that I could have captured the Shrike with an open bill as it called.

As usual click on the images to see them larger.


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