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Pentax K20D Hands On Preview

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Pentax has announced it's new enthusiast level DSLR, the Pentax K20D, set to replace the K10D of 2007. Like that camera, the camera is the result of a collaboration with Korean electronic Samsung. We are told that the electronics are produced by Samsung, while design and camera know-how comes from Pentax. As with the K10D, Samsung has also announced an almost identical model, the GX20.
I recently joined Pentax at the cameras launch in Dubai and spent a couple of days using a pre-production model. While this camera is pretty much the final version, there will probably be final firmware updates before the final release, so we can't give a full review at this time.

At the cameras heart is a newly developed CMOS sensor, produced by Samsung, with an effective resolution of 14.6 million pixels. This places the camera at the top of the tree in regards to resolution, surpassing that of the recent models from Nikon, Canon and Sony. In fact the only DSLR to top the resolution is Canon flagship EOS 1DS Mk III.

The sensor is APS-C sized and at full resolution will produce images sized at 4672 x 3120 pixels. In print terms this equates to approximately 15.6 x 10.4 inches at 300dpi. File sizes are approximately 45MB when opened and around 6MB for a closed JPEG. Files can be saved as Raw in Pentax's own PEF format, DNG, or JPEG. There's also the obligatory RAW+JPEG option.

Like the K10D, the new model has an opto-magnetic 3D-Sensor image stabilisation system. This in-camera system allows users to use standard Pentax K-mount lenses at slower shutter speeds. Pentax claims up to 4 stops slower shutter speeds can be used with the newly improved system. Furthermore the sensors sensitivity covers ISO 100-6400, allowing photography in a range of lighting conditions. Pentax has added a new Dynamic range function allowing +2EV extension for improving highlight and shadow details.
The moving sensor also allows dust to be shaken from the sensor, to be caught by an adhesive pad in the base of the chamber, while an anti-static coating over the sensor reduces the chance of dust adhering to the sensor in the first place.

The camera body maintains a similar look and feel to its predecessor, with a steel chassis and weatherproof seals, while Pentax's design ethos ensures the camera remains small and light, weighing just 800g with battery and SD card. As with other Pentax DSLRs, the K-mount allows compatibility with older Pentax lenses, as well as the new DA range, while an adaptor is available for using Pentax 645 and 67 series lenses. It is also compatible with Samsung and new Schneider lenses.

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