DigitalCameraReview.com
Pentax K20D First Thoughts
by JerryJ -  3/7/2008

Aesthetically, the Pentax K20D is virtually identical to the previous generation K10D, and it takes an experienced eye to notice the differences between these two SLRs. Pentax added a X-sync port for connecting studio strobes and a slightly larger 2.7-inch LCD monitor, but beyond these differences there is little to differentiate the exterior of the K20D from the K10D.

Pentax K20D
(view large image)

Despite the visual similarity, however, the K20D is a unique animal. The addition of a 14.6-megapixel CMOS image sensor, improved high ISO performance, live view, and an amazing burst shooting mode capable of up to 20 frames per second make the K20D a truly impressive camera.

For a quick run-down of what's new with the K20D, take a look at our video overview:

As a working photographer and owner of multiple Pentax DSLRs (including the K10D) I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't too excited about the release of the K20D. Given the modest increase in specs over the K10D I suspected that the K20D wouldn't have much to offer current Pentax users. My initial disappointment has all but been erased after the arrival of the K20D in our office. The first time you see the results from an image taken at ISO 6400 (the K20D's regular upper limit of 3200 can be boosted by one stop) and test the 20fps burst mode (at 1.6 megapixel resolution only, but still very cool) you quickly realize how much Pentax has improved their top-level SLR. The durable, weather-sealed, plastic body and comfortable grip hide a photographic workhorse. Not bad for a camera with a street price of less than $1,500.

Pentax K20D
ISO boosted to 6400 (view large image)

So far, shooting with the K20D has been an absolute joy. The mirror slap and shutter noise is clearly dampened more on the K20D than on previous bodies, and although the K20D uses the same 11-point autofocus system found on the K10D the autofocus sound was noticeably quieter on the K20D. For occasional sports shooters, the full-resolution 3fps burst mode should be more than enough to capture action, but if you are willing to trade resolution for speed the K20D does offer a jaw-dropping 20fps burst mode which captures action almost as if you are using a video camera.

On balance, the K20D offers up an uncompromising feature set that will appeal to experienced users and working shooters seeking a high-performance durable camera. With lots of functions and manual control, in-camera shake reduction, good metering, excellent lens choices, the impressive ISO range, and jaw-dropping burst speed, I'm excited to see just how much this camera can deliver.

Pentax K20D
(view large image)
Pentax K20D
(view large image
Pentax K20D
(view large image
Pentax K20D
(view large image)

Look for our full review of the Pentax K20D in the coming week.