Pentax A20 Review

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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Pentax Optio A20
Resolution: 10.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/1.8 inch
(7.2mm x 5.3mm)
Lens: 3.00x zoom
(37-112mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
Extended ISO: 64 - 1600
Shutter: 1/2000 - 4 sec
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.1 x 0.9 in.
(89 x 55 x 23 mm)
Weight: 5.1 oz (145 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $350
Availability: 10/2006
Manufacturer: Pentax
Full specs: Pentax A20 specifications

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3.00x zoom 1/1.8 inch
size sensor
image of Pentax Optio A20
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As with the A10 model on which it is based, the Pentax Optio A20 combines two impressive technologies in a compact body. First, there's the company's 'Sliding Lens System' tech, which removes elements from the optical path as the lens retracts - allowing a slimmer profile when the camera is powered off. Secondly, there's a 'Shake Reduction System' which was newly developed for the A10, and uses two gyro sensors coupled with focusing information and a proprietary CCD shift mechanism to reduce blur caused by camera shake.

Where the Optio A10 had a resolution of eight megapixels from a 1/1.8" imager, the A20 bumps this slightly to a ten megapixel imager. There's also a newly added Shutter Priority mode, and the minimum ISO is raised just slightly (from 50 to 64). Finally, on top of the CCD shift shake reduction and software removal of shake from movies (both seen in the A10), the Pentax A20 adds a third method of combatting blur from camera shake. A "blur reduction" mode trades off 50% of the camera's overall resolution, allowing the maximum ISO sensitivity to be raised from 800 to 1600 megapixels at a resolution of five megapixels - still plenty for the most common print sizes, even with a little cropping.

As with its predecessor, the Pentax A20 sports a large 2.5" LCD display, with a generous 232,000 pixels. Other notable features on the Optio A20 include Secure Digital card storage plus 24MB of built-in memory, and both USB data and NTSC / PAL switcheable video connectivity. One final change of note is that the Pentax A20 adds support for the new SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) standard, which extends the maximum flash card capacity to a theoretical 32GB (4GB cards being the largest at the time of this writing), with sustained transfer rates of up to six megabytes per second.

On paper at least, the Pentax Optio A20 looks to be an even more capable camera than the Optio A10 (which shipped in February 2006) - and impressively this has been achieved at the exact same list price of $350. The Pentax A20 ships from October 2006 in the US market.

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