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Pentax Optio A20
To be honest, when I got the Pentax A20 for review I expected it to be a simple point-and-shoot ultra-compact with probably a few manual exposure features, like most higher-end ultra-compacts out there. But then again, this wasn't the first time my first impressions were wrong.
As I said in the introduction—by the looks of it there isn't anything on the camera that would separate it from the other ultra-compacts out there.
All the button placements are very generic, with the menu buttons, navigational keys and zoom switch located at the back of the camera and the power and shutter release located on the top. Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the button placement, but considering the kind of features the A20 boasts, I feel it could have done with a couple more easy access buttons instead of hiding everything inside the modes and menus.
The 2.5-inch LCD display at the back looks sharp with crisp colors. With its resolution of 232,000 pixels you get a pretty good idea about the kind of details you're going to capture in the preview itself.
Overall the camera is comfortable to hold and easy to operate with one hand. But looks are not the A20's selling point; check out it's features for the real deal.
The A20 is so feature-packed, it dwarfs a lot of compact cameras in the same range, in comparison. To begin with, it has a whopping 10 megapixel camera resolution, which is kind of an overkill, but still impressive for an ultra-compact. The 3x optical zoom is as generic as it gets but its still something. If only the zoom would have been a bit on the higher side, this camera would have been a benchmark camera (feature-wise) in its category.
If you even just stick to using the preset shooting modes, you can shoot just about any situation using the right preset in the mode menu.
The good thing is that the options don't just stop there. For those looking beyond what the camera decides for you, the A20 offers manual exposure in the forms of letting you adjust the shutter speed, aperture size, exposure compensation, etc. It also offers you an option to set your white balance naturally and my favorite feature -- manual focus.
All this was great o have in an ultra-compact, but the one thing that really wowed me were the post-processing options, and I'm not talking merely cropping and resizing options. You have a whole bunch of color options including options to convert the whole image to black and white keeping just a single color (red, green or blue) intact. You can even change the brightness levels, add filters like noise and saturation, and a whole lot of other options to explore.
Features aside, at the end of the day if the image quality of the camera lacks, then all the features in the world are just a waste. Let's see how the A20 performs in our tests.
When it comes to colors and image clarity, the Pentax A20 is quite impressive. Even with its colossal resolution, it does manage to get all the details that one would expect from a 10 megapixel camera. There is a slight pin-cushion effect around the edges of certain photos like the ones with a lot of sky coverage.
The color reproduction was spot-on with all the pinks, reds and oranges accurately captured.
The scene modes pretty much delivered what they promised, but they were a little too well programmed. Like, when I tried taking a portrait shot when the camera is set to landscape mode it absolutely refused to focus on a close subject. So if you are the lazy type, I would suggest you stick to auto mode.
Manual focus on the A20 works like a charm, and thanks to the large and clear display, you get a pretty accurate idea of when the focus is right. Check out the super macro shot I took below using manual focus.
As for the negatives, the shot-to-shot time varies with the amount of light available, but when shooting in regular indoor light the time the lag between two consecutive shots in burst mode was as slow as 5 seconds in this one. Definitely not recommended to people who use this mode.
In low-light shots when the camera shifts to higher ISO levels, there is quite a bit of visible digital noise. It's not to a very high extent, but its still there and its visible.
In a case like this, its easy to forget that at the end of the day, the Pentax Optio A20 is still an ultra-compact, and with that size come a lot of limitations. Comparing it directly to the likes of the mid-range Canon Powershots would be ridiculous, but the thing is that it does offer comparable features, and that itself is commendable.
At the end of the day, the A20 is a great ultra-compact digital camera and well worth the Rs. 20,000 street price.
Pentax Optio A20
|Dimensions||89 x 55 x 23 mm|
|LCD Type||2.5", 232,000 px|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, Manual|
|Shutter Speed||4-1/2000 sec|
|Aperture||F2.8 - F5.4|
|Scene Modes||Pet, Food, Text, Candle, Flower, Landscape, Night scene, Sports mode, Surf & snow, Portrait mode, Frame composition|
Custom, Cloudy, Daylight, Fluorescent, Tungsten light, Automatic
|Flash||Auto, On, Off, Red-eye reduction|
|Self Timer||2 - 10 secs|
|Video Resolution||640x480 @ 30fps|
|Street Price||Rs. 20,000/-|