Pentax K20D

Intro

The Pentax K20D is a 14.6 Megapixel mid-range DSLR which packs-in a broad range of features many of which are normally reserved for semi-pro models. Announced in January 2008, it’s the successor to the popular K10D, from which it inherits an impressive core specification including a dust and weather-resistant body, built-in Shake Reduction, a decent optical viewfinder, a number of innovative exposure modes, a wealth of custom options and the choice of recording RAW images in either Pentax’s own PEF or Adobe’s open DNG formats.

To this Pentax has slightly increased the screen size to 2.7in, boosted the maximum sensitivity to 6400 ISO, added Live View facilities and an X-Sync port for external lighting, improved the optionally bundled 18-55mm kit lens, and most importantly, significantly increased the resolution from 10.2 to 14.6 Megapixels.

 

Pentax hasn’t only increased the resolution – it’s swapped the sensor technology from CCD to CMOS, and the new chip is manufactured by its partner Samsung which like the K10D before it, offers its own version of the camera called the GX-20.

Complementing the new sensor are a wide range of image processing options, including a new Custom Function menu which lets you fine tune every aspect including two separate sharpening scales and the choice of four noise reduction options.

Pentax has sensibly retained the K10D’s innovative exposure and control modes which include a unique Sensitivity Priority option and the Hyper Program mode which lets you immediately switch into Aperture or Shutter Priority at a turn of its twin dials. Joining a broad range of bracketing options are a new one touch bracketing control which takes them all with a single button press, and an Intervalometer for unattended shooting.

 
Click here for the Pentax K20D video tour
 

It all adds up to an impressive specification on paper, but how do the features measure-up in practice? Does the sensor capture the promised detail, or suffer from above average noise and processing artefacts? How well does the new Live View feature work compared to the technical capabilities of the Canon 450D / XSi or the speed and flexibility of Sony’s Alpha system?

Ultimately does the K20D justify its price against cheaper mid-range DSLRs like the Canon 450D / XSi and Sony A350, or can it really compete against semi-pro models? Find out in our full review where we’ll examine all the new features and directly compare the K20D against the 450D / XSi and A350 to reveal which resolves the greatest detail and crucially holds onto it at higher sensitivities. And as always for a demonstration of its highlights, check out our Pentax K20D video tour.

Our Pentax K20D was kindly supplied by I R Little of New Zealand. For information on Pentax stockists in New Zealand, please contact [email protected]

Testing notes

The K20D was set to 14.6M **** JPEG quality, Auto White Balance, Multi-Segment metering, High ISO NR off, and the Custom Image setting at the default Bright option with +1 for Contrast and Sharpness. Shake Reduction was enabled for all these handheld shots.

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