Despite increased pixel counts rapidly reaching the wall of diminishing returns for consumers, Pentax have joined the trend for beefing up the megapixel ratings with their new Optio A20 compact digital camera.
Stuffing in a ten megapixel sensor, the A20 is an attractively understated lightweight compact which offers three types of anti-shake, a 2.5inch LCD screen and enough power from its two AA batteries to grab around 220 images on a single charge.
The 1/1.8-inch CCD sensor captures enough information to create A3 sized prints, with the SMC PENTAX zoom lens (38mm-114mm equiv) offering seven elements in five groups, with three aspherical elements correcting spherical aberration.
No shake, non rattle and non roll.
A new Application Specific Integrated Circuit (whatever that is) claims to serve up more image-processing power, with the camera unusually offering three different types of Anti-Shake functions.
The first, SR (Shake Reduction), is a proper stabilisation system that employs two gyro sensors to detect the amount of shake and an image sensor (CCD) that moves both horizontally and vertically to reduce the wobbles.
Pentax’s “Blur Reduction” mode uses the time-honoured bodge of whipping the ISO rating skywards (up to 1600) when the light goes low, at the expense of a lower 5M (2592 x 1944 pixels) resolution,
The third function, Movie Anti-Shake, helps reduce wildly oscillating video clips via software wizardry, with the process resulting in movies with a narrower field of view than during normal recording.
Pentax have also included their new Face Recognition AF & AE function, which claims to automatically detect the position of someone’s boatrace in the photo frame, adjusting the focus and exposure accordingly.
The Optio A20’s auto-tracking AF feature should help doting mothers grab photos of their little darlings as they run into walls, with the focus frame automatically following the movement of the subject inside the photo frame.
The movie capabilities of the A20 are pretty good too, with the little fella capable of grabbing 640 x 480 pixels footage at 30 fps (frames per second), captured in DivX (MPEG-4 compliant) movie format (not supported on Macs).
As ever, there’s a veritable flotilla of auto/scene modes covering Landscape, Portrait, Night Scene, and Program modes, with Shutter-Priority AE and Manual Exposure offered for the adventurous.
The Optio A20 supports two types of removable storage media – SD and the new SDHC memory cards, with the camera offering 22MB of built-in memory.
The camera should be hurtling off shop shelves in the US from October 2006, priced at around 350 bucks, while UK pricing and release dates will be announced at a later date.
Pentax Optio A20 specifications
Sensor 1/2.5″ Type CCD, 10.0 million effective pixels
Image sizes 3648 x 2736, 3072 x 2304, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480
Movie clips 640 x 480 @ 30fps, 320 x 240 @ 30fps
File formats JPEG Exif v2.2, DCF, DPOF, PRINT Image Matching III, AVI MPEG-4
Lens 38-114mm (35mm equiv), F2.8-5.4
Image stabilization SR (Shake Reduction), Movie anti-shake,
Conversion lenses No
Digital zoom up to 4x
Focus TTL contrast detection AF
AF area modes 5-point multi AF, Spot AF, Tracking AF switchable
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance Normal: 0.35m – infinity
Macro: 0.12m – 0.4m (at full wide-angle setting to 11.5mm)
Supermacro: 0.06m – 0.15m (at full wide-angle setting)
Metering TTL metering, Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot
ISO sensitivity Auto, ISO 64, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV in 1/3 steps
Shuttter speed 1/2000 sec to 4 sec
Modes One shot, Self timer, Continuous, Remote Control,
Self timer 2 or 10 secs
Continuous shooting n/a
Flash Auto, Flash On / Off, Soft Flash, Red-eye reduction
Range: Wide: approx 0.06m – 7.1m / Tele: approx 0.35m – 3.5m
LCD monitor 2.5-inch TFT Low-reflective type, 232,000 pixels
Connectivity NTSC / PAL, USB 2.0 Hi-speed, AV out, DC in
Storage 22MB built-in memory, SD / SDHC card compatible
Power Rechargeable D-L18 Lithium-ion battery, Optional AC adapter
Weight (no batt) 125 g (4.4 oz)
Dimensions 88.5 x 54.5 x 23 mm (3.5 x 2.1 x 0.9 in)