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Pentax K20D Hands On Preview

The LCD screen has been enlarged to 2.7" with 230,000 dots resolution, which fails to match the size or resolution of the Nikon D300 OR Sony A700, but it does now incorporate Live View so images can be composed via the monitor. The monitor is fixed though and lacks the multi-angle hinge found on the Panasonic Lumix L-10 or Olympus E3, which I personally prefer.

Button placement follows a similar pattern to that of the K10D, with easy access to the main functions, while a function button quickly opens the menu to change flash modes, WB and ISO. A rotating scroll wheel is used to change the 11 AF points, while a pair of front and rear command dials offer natural and quick exposure control.

It's not a hard camera to use, feels very comfortable with all of the main fuctions one would require of a semi-pro model. Like other cameras at this level it lacks scene modes, but does offer a range of picture options settings, which can also be customised in the menu.

The menu in particular has seen a few changes, with a better tyoe face and importantly much clearer labelling of some of the functions. One of my criticisms of Pentax cameras in the past has been their somewhat esoteric naming conventions. The sensor cleaning function for example, is no longer named ‘Switch dst msr pt'.

In the playback menu there are a number of direct image manipulation options, including a range of colour filters, an HDR function and colour extract tools. The camera also follows the K10Ds lead by providing in-camera Raw processing. Whenever any of these functions are performed, a new image file is created and saved, leaving you original file untouched. Personally I don't use too many of these functions, but for some, especially if you intend on printing directly from the camera, they can prove very useful.

One welcome improvement is the new 11 point AF with 9 cross sensors. In conjunction with the new standard smc PENTAX-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL II zoom, the AF speed and accuracy shows an improvement over the previous models. However, again, the camera fails to match the AF specification of rivals such as the Nikon D300 and Canon EOS 40D.

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