Pentax K20D Review

 
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Pentax K20D Operation

Like the Pentax K10D before it, operation of the K20D digital SLR is fairly straightforward, but tuned with the experienced photographer in mind. You'll do better with the K20D if you take time to read the manual and learn every little function. The large Mode dial on top of the camera controls the main operating modes, and tells the story of the K20D's uniqueness. It has options for Green (Auto), Program, Sensitivity priority, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Shutter and Aperture priority, Manual, Bulb, and X-sync (flash). Several of the Pentax K20D's control buttons perform multiple functions, which saves space and time. The e-dials for example, control a variety of settings when turned in combination with a press of a button, and the arrow keys of the Four-way arrow pad access shortcuts to common camera settings as well. The Pentax K20D's LCD menu system is straightforward, with four main menus accessible via a tabbed interface at the top of the screen. Considering the multi-functional controls and variety of menu options, it will probably take most users a little time with the manual to really get the gist of things, but operation becomes intuitive after that.

 

Top Panel Status Display

The Pentax K20D's monochrome LCD status display appears on the camera's top deck just behind the shutter button. There is a backlight for viewing in dark conditions, with the K20D's Exposure Compensation button doubling as the illumination button. The LCD panel displays the Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO, exposure mode, battery status, EV compensation, drive mode, and the estimated number of images available, varying depending on mode and buttons active. See the complete list below (illustration courtesy of Pentax).


1
Shutter speed
9
Battery level indicator
2
Aperture
10
White balance indicator
3
Flash mode
11
ISO warning
4
Drive mode
12
RAW capture mode
(+ indicates RAW + JPEG)
5
EV bar
13
Number or recordable images
6
Auto bracket indicator
Exposure compensation value
7
Flash exposure compensation indicator
PC mode
8
EV compensation indicator
14
Multiple exposure mode

 

Main LCD

The Pentax K20D's main LCD monitor is used for status display, accessing menus, image review as well as image preview. When you turn the camera on, or change exposure modes, the main LCD displays a status screen for three seconds. See the illustration (courtesy of Pentax) and table below for detailed information:

1
Flash mode
9
Exposure mode name
2
Drive mode, Auto bracket, Multi-exposure
10
e-dial guide
3
AE metering
11
Battery level
4
Focus mode
12
Date and time
5
AF point position
13
World Time
6
White balance
14
Button guide
7
Sensitivity
15
Exposure mode
8
Shake reduction
16
USER mode

 

Record Mode Display
The K20D's LCD monitor serves as an information display in most record modes, when the Info button has been pressed. The information display reports AF mode, Mode dial setting, AE metering, flash mode, drive mode, auto bracketing, ISO, tone, quality, resolution, color space, white balance, date & time, AF point, saturation, sharpness, contrast, focal length, scene mode, and Shake Reduction status. Pressing the Function button brings up a Function menu, allowing quick settings of commonly accessed items, including White balance, Drive mode, ISO, Flash mode and Custom image. See the illustration below (courtesy of Pentax) for detailed callouts of the info available in record mode.

1
Exposure mode
17
While balance
2
USER mode
18
G-M compensation
3
AE metering
19
B-A compensation
4
Flash mode
20
Color space
5
Drive mode
21
File format
6
Exposure bracket, Multi-exposure
22
JPEG recorded pixels
7
Extended bracket
23
JPEG quality
8
Focus mode
24
Shake reduction
9
AF point position
25
Image tone
10
Lens focal length
26
Saturation/Filter effect
11
Shutter speed
27
Hue/Toning
12
Aperture
28
Contrast
13
EV compensation
29
Sharpness/Fine Sharpness
14
Flash exposure compensation
30
World time
15
Sensitivity
31
Date and time
16
ISO correction in Auto
32
Battery power

 

Live View Display
As mentioned above, the K20D supports Live View. Pentax treats it as a type of "Preview mode." Accessed by turning the Power dial to the aperture symbol, the type of Preview mode can be selected in the Custom menu. Options are Live View, Optical Preview (which doesn't use the LCD, but stops down the lens so that Depth-of-field can be visualized in the viewfinder), and Digital Preview (which takes a snap-shot with the current exposure settings and displays it without saving the image to the memory card). The K20D's Live View mode is quite basic. Display options consist of showing the AF area, and/or a grid. There is no information overlay, nor is there a live histogram available, but the live image can be zoomed up to 8x to verify correct focus. The K20D automatically shuts Live View off after 3 minutes to prevent the sensor from overheating, and won't let you resume Live View mode until the internal temperature has reached an acceptable level.

The Pentax K20D uses the same SAFOX VIII phase-detection autofocus system for Live View as it does when using the optical viewfinder. You can select which focus point is active, or have the camera select it for you. Because the AF sensor is being used, the mirror must flip down before focusing, temporarily interrupting the live image while the camera achieves focus. There is no option for contrast-detect and/or face detection autofocus as found on some recent Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic models.

 

Playback Mode Display
In Playback mode, the default image display shows the most recently captured image, with a modest information overlay present. Pressing the Info button once pulls up the Pentax K20D's histogram view. Pressing the up or down arrow switches between a luminance histogram and an RGB+Luminance histogram set. Any overexposed areas in the frame also blink, if the option is selected in the Playback menu. Pressing the Info button again brings up a detailed information display, which decreases the image to a thumbnail on the screen. All of the same information is reported here as in the detailed display in record mode, listed above. A third press of the Info button brings the image back fullscreen, with no information.

Turning the e-dial in this mode controls the index display and image enlargement options. The index display can show 4, 9, or 16 thumbnail images at a time on-screen, while the enlargement feature magnifies images as much as 32x. There is also a handy "Compare Images" mode which lets you display two images side-by-side, which can be enlarged to 32x as well.

 

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