After a few minutes of hands-on time with both the new Samsung GX-20 and its technological counterpart, the Pentax K20D, it was surprising to see not how much the two devices have in common, but how much they differ. Previous Samsung DSLRs have been, for the most part, straight-up Pentax rebrands, but with Samsung looking to assert itself more dominantly in the digital camera market – they've made known their intention to become the number three player in digital cameras, an outrageously aggressive goal in the current environment – the GX-20 provides a somewhat different shooting experience from that of the K20D.
Visually, the two cameras remain quite similar, with the Samsung sporting a slightly smaller, slightly more rounded body all around. Most of the substantive differences, however, are focused on the user interface, where Samsung's expertise in consumer electronics generally benefits the GX-20.
Pentax cameras are distinctive in their almost industrial UI approach (visually and otherwise), which appeals to some but intimidates others. In terms of look and feel, the GX-20 system is much more inviting and polished than Pentax's variant, with some subtle differences in menu structure that make the GX-20 feel a little bit more transparent and accessible.
Obviously, most of the hard tech is identical, though it's clear from discussions with Samsung reps that the company's control of the sensor system has given them much more technological autonomy than they've previously enjoyed. If the GX-10 was 95 percent Pentax, the GX-20 is probably more like 80 percent borrowed tech. Moreover, our sources say to expect this incremental separation in the DSLR lineup to continue, even as the companies continue to work together in several key areas.
Samsung is hosting a press conference a little later on this evening, and we're anticipating a few more tech-focused releases that should address differentiation between Pentax and Samsung DSLRs. As always, we'll keep you posted.