Excerpt: While ideally each new camera should have a special, unique feature that sells it on its own terms and distinguishes it from the pack, depressingly most don’t. But, in the case of the Optio VS20 from Pentax we don’t quite know whether to rejoice in or ridicule its points of difference.
Summary: This is another small digital camera from a name more associated with lenses rather than cameras. But they do make rather good cameras as well. This offering has a feature that I have never seen before on any camera I have reviewed.
Conclusion: With this sort of model, you really do just want to point and shoot and come away with usable results most (if not all) of the time. And in that respect the Olympus SZ-14 - costing £199/$305 - is a better bet, if not perfect. The Pentax Optio VS20's unique selling point of the twin sets of controls and tripod thread also for us fell rather flat.
Excerpt: The Pentax Optio VS20 is the latest compact camera from Pentax and features a 20x optical zoom lens, a 16 megapixel sensor, a 3 inch screen and interestingly a vertical shutter button with zoom control, as well as a second tripod socket on the side of the camera.
Cons: Optical zoom not available during video recording, Poor screen, low contrast, washed out, difficult to use outdoors, Chromatic abberations (green/pink), Purple fringing, Focus issues, Quite large
Excerpt: It's not often that we see a camera with a groundbreaking design, but the VS20 is exactly that. It has two shutter buttons, each with a zoom lever encircling it. One is in the usual place on top of the camera, while the other is on the right edge when viewed from the back. It's designed for more comfortable operation when shooting in portrait orientation.
Conclusion: The Pentax Optio VS20 is not quite the bargain it may initially seem. But set against a hit-and-miss performance is the fact that here we have a broad focal range that will in theory allow a wide variety of framing options without having to physically shuffle forward or back as we would with a fixed lens camera. And then there’s the price.
Pros: Affordable, plenty of creative framing opportunities, simple to use, automatic in-camera panorama stitching, smattering of digital effects filters
Cons: Inconsistent performance from autofocus, exposure and white balance, some digital filter effects look more like camera mistakes, below average battery life, dual controls more gimmick than essential