On the top panel there is only the on/off button, the shutter release and the zoom control, which is a rotating bezel around the shutter button. The controls are clearly labelled and easy to operate, although the on/off button is recessed to prevent accidental activation.
Touch-screen operation isn’t a new idea, and I’ve used several cameras in the past that have made use of it, but few of them have been successful. Pentax’s version however works very well, and makes the camera very quick and simple to operate. In shooting mode a single finger-tap of the screen brings up the main shooting options, eight finger-sized icons for shooting mode, flash mode, drive mode, AF setting, ISO, picture size and quality, and metering mode. Tapping any of these brings up a sub-menu, so changing any of the settings usually takes no more than three taps.
The menu button likewise brings up a series of touch-buttons for the usual menu options, some of which duplicate the shooting menu, but also include things like adjustable saturation, contrast and sharpness.
One useful feature of this system is that the bottom row of shooting mode buttons are user-defined, so you can choose whichever four menu functions are most useful to you. This is handy, since exposure compensation is not included in the default set, but can be added by the user.
The shooting mode palette has fewer options than most of Pentax’s range, with just twelve choices. However these cover all of the most useful options, including portrait, landscape, sports, surf & snow, night scene, food, and of course the inevitable “Frame Composite” mode. It also has a “Pets” option, with three different options for light, mid and dark coloured coats.
In playback mode there are some neat features, including automatic red-eye correction, and the ability to draw or add clip-art directly onto your pictures using the touch screen, although this is a lot easier if you use a stylus of some sort.
So far so good then, but nearly every camera has a weakness, and for the T20 it’s performance. Start-up time is just over three seconds, which might not sound like a lot but is well below average for a modern compact. Continuous shooting is also slow, shooting at approximately one frame every two seconds. However it’s the AF system that really lets it down. It’s one of the slowest I’ve seen in a couple of years, taking well over a second to achieve focus even in good light. Although its low-light focusing ability is very good thanks to a nice bright AF lamp, in the dark it’s focusing is even slower.