The Pentax Optio M20 has a telescoping lens barrel that extends slightly from the right side of the camera body when activated. When powered down, the 3x optical zoom lens is protected by an automatic lens cover. The fully extended lens barrel is composed of two sections. The Pentax zoom lens has focal lengths of 6.3-18.9mm; this range is equivalent to 38-114mm in 35mm format. The aperture for this lens is f/3.1 to f/5.9 and is composed of six elements in five groups. A maximum aperture of f/3.1 is underwhelming when compared to most other cameras on the market, and when considering the widest angle measures a mere 38mm. Photographers may find both their framing and exposure options to be limited. The actual zoom levels are controlled through a zoom button on the back of the camera body in the upper right corner. The zoom button is split into two parts (although it is a single mechanism) that allows users to press the right side for telephoto adjustment and the left for wide-angle adjustment. When the zoom button is pressed, a zoom level indicator appears horizontally along the bottom of the LCD monitor. This bar is easy to see and is able to show both optical and digital zoom together, or it can be set to only display and control optical zoom when digital zoom is disengaged in the shooting menu. The control is large enough for competent adjustments to be made and - while overly sensitive - it is able to produce up to nine stops of zoom when paying careful attention and making minute adjustments. Adjusting the zoom levels in normal shooting will produce far fewer stops due in large part to the overly fast movement through the zoom range. There is no way to slow down the shifts in zoom levels and oftentimes making the appropriate adjustment required a couple of extra nudges and bumps. The other setback for this control is when the widest wide-angle setting is reached the camera oscillates wildly before settling on the appropriate depth. This will temporarily render the camera useless, and it will delay and lengthen shooting time.
Manual Control Options**While not necessarily expansive in the controls that they cover, the manual options found on the Pentax Optio M20 are easy to locate, engage, and adjust, helping minimize the amount of time novice users will have to spend reading the manual. Manual options are listed through external controls like the four-way buttons or in the shooting menu. Manual controls that can be set with the four-way buttons include focus mode via the right arrow and flash via the left arrow. Manual controls found within the shooting menu will allow users to make adjustments to exposure compensation, image sensitivity (ISO) and white balance. Aperture, shutter and exposure metering are all fully automatic. Users will find that in shooting situations with backlighting, for example, the fully automatic metering mode will fall short of the results attained with other cameras that have a manually selectable spot, center-weighted and multi metering options. If consumers want a digital camera with more manual controls, they should keep looking. There are a number of cameras on the market now that will provide equal (or better) image quality, along with far more manual control, for the same general price. **Focus***Auto Focus (7.0)*Auto focus is an area that is chock full of control. The auto focus is set through the use of a TTL contrast detection system with a 9-point array. The auto focus settings are found by pressing the right arrow of the four-way control; this action opens a display on the right side of the LCD that easily scrolls through with the up and down arrows on the same four-way control. AF options on the Optio M20 include standard, macro, super-macro, infinity and pan focus. In addition to these auto focus options, users can further customize their AF shooting by selecting from three AF area options listed within the shooting menu of the camera: multiple, spot and automatic tracking AF. The focusing range for the Pentax Optio M20 in normal shooting mode is approximately 0.4 meters to infinity, while macro shoots from approximately 0.1-1.0 meter in full wide-angle. When switched into the super-macro AF mode, the range is reduced to 0.05-0.4 meters. The extreme opposite of this is the landscape mode that shoots in the full zoom range to infinity. The pan focus in wide-angle is successful from around 1.4 meters to infinity; while in telephoto, the range begins at 5.8 meters and continues out to infinity. Accessing and adjusting the AF area options will depend on which shooting mode the camera is currently selected. In Program mode, all three options are available, while in modes like frame composite, auto, portrait and movie, the options are restricted individually to a specific setting or settings. The auto focus took about a second to function and more complicated shots lagged several seconds. The system takes its time, but it works effectively. Occasionally, the camera displayed a red frame to indicate the need to recompose the shot in order to attain proper focus. This happened often in low light situations, however, the inclusion of the red frame indicator was helpful in confirming focus.
**Conclusion**The Pentax Optio M20 is a compact digital camera currently priced for under $200 online. It is designed to appeal to budget-minded point-and-shoots. The camera does have an impressive 7 MP CCD. The M20 has a 3x optical zoom lens, a 2.5-inch LCD and a stripped down external interface. Internally, the camera boasts menus that are easy to navigate, help screens in mode menus and playback mode, and a Pentax-specific Green mode for completely automatic control. In addition to the simple Green mode, the M20 offers some manual control options, although they are a bit slim. The Optio M20 provides options for exposure compensation, white balance, focus, and image sensitivity, while parameters like aperture, shutter speed and metering are fully automatic. Interestingly, Pentax included a number of preset AF modes for users as well as manual focus so that photographers will have the opportunity to control focus without having to engage the manual control option. The movie mode offers a maximum resolution of 640 x 480, 30 fps and records audio. The other preset shooting modes provide a number of options to bridge the gap between fully automatic and manual. Things like a customizable shortcut button and a live histogram provide photographers with options and features that they might otherwise ignore. While there are a few problems to consider with this camera - questionable flash positioning and a rubber flap that exposes the batteries and memory card - the camera is competitively priced for the market. With significant resolution, average image quality, in-camera editing options, and a general design that promotes ease of use, the M20 is a reasonable candidate for point-and-shooters looking to stay below the $200 mark.
Offsetting this is one of the flashiest features of the camera: a digital 'microscope' mode whereby six little LED lights circling the lens illuminate. While that's pretty there is the caveat that image quality is fixed at a lowly two megapixels if selecting this option. Under close inspection there are familiar image bugbears here, like pixel fringing between areas of high contrast and barrel distortion/leaning verticals at maximum 28mm wideangle setting. 041b061a72