Pentax has an unusual approach to the digital camera market. While the other manufacturers have a wide range of models in all the different categories – ultra-compact style cameras, standard zoom compacts, superzooms, semi-pro “bridge” cameras and DSLRS – for several years now Pentax has poured most of its resources into just two of those categories, ultra-compacts and DSLRs. This might seem like a risky strategy, but perhaps Pentax figures that it’s better to be the master of two trades than Jack of all.
As a result the Pentax digital camera range currently consists of three DSLRs and no fewer than sixteen 3x optical zoom ultra-compact cameras. Within the range are many variations on the basic theme, with sensor resolutions ranging from 5.0 to 10.0 megapixels, some cameras powered by AA batteries and others by rechargeable Li-ion cells, and also the W-series of waterproof cameras, including the W20 that I reviewed last week. If you’re looking for a compact digital camera with a 3x zoom lens, the chances are that Pentax has something that will suit your needs.
One of the latest is this, the Optio T20. It’s a 7.0-megapixel model featuring a big 3in high resolution monitor and an innovative touch-screen menu system. Launched late last year with a list price of £249.99, it is currently available at retail for around £185. This puts it at about the mid point in the price range for 7-megapixel compacts, compared with such models as the Casio Exilim EX-Z70 (£140), Olympus mju 700 (£140), Sony DSC-W70 (£160), Canon IXUS i7 Zoom (£190), Ricoh caplio R5 (£205), Kodak Easyshare V705 (£209), Nikon Coolpix S7c (£215) and Canon IXUS 850 IS (£244).
Like its siblings it features Pentax’s 6.2-18.6mm (37.5mm-112.5mm equiv.) Sliding Lens System, which folds down flush with the camera’s body. This allows the T20 to be just 19.5mm thick, making it one of the slimmest cameras available. It has a very sleek and minimalist appearance, with a simple rectangular shape rounded off on the top and bottom edges. The body is all aluminium alloy which feels nice and sturdy, and build quality is of a very high standard. Weighing 135g it is nice and light and won’t make much of a bulge in your shirt pocket.
Because of its touch-screen control system there are only two buttons on the back panel, so despite the large monitor there is plenty of room to grip the camera, with a large textured thumb grip area on the back.