The K20D ($1199,
body only) is the flagship model in Pentax's digital
SLR lineup. While it has the features of a midrange
SLR (most notably its 14.6 Megapixel sensor and weatherproof
body), the K20D costs several hundred dollars less
than the competition.
Other features on the K20D include
sensor-shift image stabilization, live view on a
2.7" LCD, two different RAW formats, unique
sensitivity and aperture/shutter speed priority modes,
and support for essentially every Pentax lens ever
I should mention that the K20D has
a twin: the Samsung
GX-20. The cameras aren't 100% identical, with
the GX20 having different menus and, reportedly,
different image processing.
Ready to learn more about the K20D,
and how it compares to some pretty tough competition?
Then read on -- our review starts right now!
What's in the Box?
The K20D is sold in a body only
kit (no lens included). Here's what you'll find inside
- The 14.6 effective Megapixel
Pentax K20D camera body
- D-L150 lithium-ion rechargeable
- Battery charger
- Viewfinder cap
- Body cap (installed)
- Hot shoe cover (installed)
- Eyecup (installed)
- Shoulder strap
- USB cable
- Video cable
- CD-ROM featuring Pentax Photo
Browser and Photo Laboratory
- 282 page camera manual (printed)
As I mentioned, no lens is included
with the K20D. The good news is that Pentax has plenty
available, and if you have any old Pentax glass laying
around, they'll work just fine on the camera. And,
since the camera has built-in shake reduction, you
get image stabilization on all of these lenses.
Something else you won't find in
the box is a memory card, which is normal for a digital
SLR. The K20D supports both SD and SDHC memory cards,
and I recommend picking up a 2GB card to start with
(or perhaps even 4GB). It's definitely worth picking
up a high speed card, for maximum camera performance.
The K20D uses the same D-LI50 lithium-ion
rechargeable battery as its predecessor. This battery
packs a whopping 12 Wh of energy, which is about
as high as you'll find these days. How does that
translate into battery life? Have a look:
life, live view off
|Olympus E-520 *
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10
|Pentax K10D *
|Pentax K20D *
|Sony Alpha DSLR-A350
Battery life numbers are provided
by the manufacturer
Though noticeably better than on
the K10D, the K20D's battery life numbers are actually
20% below the group average. Thus, picking up a spare
battery isn't a bad idea. Keep in mind that these
batteries are pricey -- an extra will set you back at
least $45. In addition, when your D-LI50 runs
out of juice, you can't pop in some off-the-shelf
batteries to get you through the day.
Camera with optional battery grip
If you want longer battery life
and a comfortable grip for portrait shooting, then
you might want to check out the D-BG2 battery grip
from $130). This grip holds an additional D-LI50
battery, giving you double the battery life. It also
has additional buttons and control dials, perfect
for shooting vertically.
When it's time to charge the D-LI50
battery, just pop it into the included charger. It
takes about three hours to fully charge the battery.
This isn't one of those chargers that plug directly
into the wall -- you must use a power cable.
Since it's a digital SLR, you shouldn't
be too surprised to hear that the K20D has a wealth
of accessories available. I've compiled the most
notable ones into the chart below:
||Why you want
K-mount lenses (even really old ones)
with a 1.5X crop factor
|Get more flash
power and less chance of redeye with
these two flashes
|Wireless remote control
||Take photos wirelessly...
|Wired remote control
||... or via a
1.6 foot cable
magnification of the viewfinder from
0.95x to 1.12x.
battery life while adding a grip
for shooting portraits
||Power your camera
without draining the battery
|* Prices were accurate
at time of publication
There are more accessories available,
ranging from focusing screens to camera bags, but
these are the most common and easiest to find.
Pentax Photo Browser
Pentax includes three different
software applications with the K20D. The first is
Photo Browser 3.5 which, as its name implies, is
for taking photos off the camera, and then organizing
them. My first impression wasn't terribly positive:
the software wouldn't install on my Mac, so I had
to dive into the "package contents" to
find the actual installer. Once I got it up and running,
I formed my second impression: this software is slow.
On the main screen, you'll have
the usual thumbnail view of your photos, with all
the shooting data you could possibly want at the
bottom. There's not much you can do in terms of editing
photos in this software: you can rotate photos, crop
them, or perform a "quick fix" -- and that's
about it. Photo Browser can open RAW files (in both
supported formats) and save them as JPEGs.
Pentax Photo Laboratory
For more "hardcore" RAW
editing, you'll want to open up Pentax Photo Laboratory.
This lets you edit virtually every RAW property,
ranging from exposure to white balance to the tone
curve. Other tools are your disposal include noise
reduction, highlight adjustment, and lens aberration
and distortion correction.
What's the deal with RAW, anyway?
RAW files contain unprocessed data from the K20D's
image sensor. This allows you to edit the various
properties that I just mentioned, without affecting
the quality of the image. Choose the wrong white
balance setting? Just fix it in software. Shooting
RAW gives you a chance to retake a photo from your
Do note that RAW images have much
higher file sizes than their JPEG counterparts, which
limits how many photos you can take in continuous
shooting mode. They must also be processed on your
Mac or PC before you can save them into more common
formats like JPEG.
The K20D is a rather unique SLR
in that it supports two different RAW formats. You
can choose from Pentax's proprietary PEF format,
or Adobe's DNG (digital negative specification) file
Pentax Remote Assistant
The last piece in the software trio
is Pentax Remote Assistant 3. This allows you to
control the camera from your computer, with the images
being saved directly to your hard disk. You don't
need to lay a finger on the camera, as all of its
settings can be controlled from the software. Do
note that live view is not available in Remote Assistant.
Remote Assistant can also be used
for adjusting the setup and custom settings on the
K20D. You can save current settings to your hard
drive, so you can swap them around if you need to
(or just save them as a backup).
Digital SLRs are complicated cameras,
and thus they need detailed manuals. Pentax delivers
in that department, providing a thick manual with
plenty of details, with a font size that won't require
your reading glasses. The manual does have its share
of confusing charts and "notes", but I
guess that comes with the territory.
Look and Feel
I was really impressed with the
build quality of the "old"
K10D, and things haven't changed a bit on the K20D.
It's a very sturdy camera, with a stainless steel
frame on the inside, and a "fiber-reinforced
shell on the outside. The camera is protected against
dust and moisture, with seals in seventy-two locations.
The bottom line here is that the K20D can handle
the elements with ease.
Ergonomics and usability are a mixed
bag. I found the K20D easy to hold, with a good-sized
grip for your right hand, which has a "sticky"
feel to it. The K20D has more than its share of buttons
and dials -- especially on its rear -- so it may
take a while before you get used to it. While I'll
go into much more detail about the camera's menu
system later in the review, I will say now that they
feel quite dated.
Alright, now let's see how the K20D
compares to other midrange D-SLRs in terms of size
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
||5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in.
||69.4 cu in.
||740 g |
||5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.
||64 cu in.
||620 g |
||5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in.
||52.5 cu in.
||475 g |
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10
||5.3 x 3.8 x 3.1 in.
||62.4 cu in.
||480 g |
||5.6 x 4.0 x 2.8 in.
||62.7 cu in.
||710 g |
||5.6 x 4.0 x 2.8 in.
||62.7 cu in.
||714 g |
|Sony Alpha DSLR-A350
||5.1 x 3.9 x 2.9 in.
||57.7 cu in.
||582 g |