Pentax K20D – the first 14 megapixel APS-C DSLR

Pentax has thrown out a challenge to all rivals with a new 14.6 effective Megapixel CMOS Sensor and integrated Shake Reduction in the K20D, based on the earlier K10D but taken to a level of pixel-count specification which now exceeds anything from Nikon, Canon, Sony or the FourThirds consortium. Samsung developed the new sensor and it will no doubt appear in a similar Samsung body. They describe the K20D as ‘semi-professional’.Pentax K20D

The new K20D sets out to build on the success of the K10D which set new standards and established itself as a leading model in its class. A completely new camera concept has been developed for the K20D that clearly raises the standard for this class of digital SLR with its high performance features and extensive functions.

High performance precision

Outwardly it is immediately clear that the K20D meets professional standards with its dust and splash-proof body. At the heart of the camera is a CMOS sensor with an effective resolution of 14.6 megapixels with extremely low noise characteristics. A further new development is Pixel mapping that interpolates failed pixels, avoiding disturbing white spots in the final image. This function is completed automatically by the camera so that annoying and time-consuming retouching can be avoided.

An integrated dust shield prevents dust particles from contaminating the sensor. This is a two-step system that consists of an effective dust-rejecting special coating on the low-pass filter and a function that vibrates to shake the remaining dust off the sensor. The vibration system can be set to work automatically when the camera is switched on or can be activated manually as needed. The dust that is shaken off the image sensor falls onto an adhesive sheet positioned at the bottom of the SR unit, eliminating any possibility of its returning to the image sensor surface. As any such physical system is only effective while in actual use an additional warning system has been integrated. With the “Dust Alert” function a vertically and laterally correct image of the sensor is shown on the monitor to indicate exactly where any stubborn dust particles may be adhering to the sensor.

Professional detailing

Due to demand by photographers and the trade the K20D is equipped with finer compression stages. Now 4 JPEG compression levels are available providing for more highly detailed pictures. Most relevant for those in the know, the camera can store files as JPEG or as RAW or, depending upon user preference, simultaneously as both JPEG and RAW. The RAW selection may be either the Pentax “PEF” standard or the Adobe Photoshop “DNG” format. By pressing the RAW button the file format can easily be changed and the sequence individually specified.

Like the K10D this new top-of-the-range Pentax model features the in-camera opto-magnetic 3D-Sensor image stabilisation system (“Shake Reduction” system). The clear advantage of this system is that there are no restrictions on the choice of lenses. This unique “Shake Reduction” is fully functional with all PENTAX K-mount lenses.

Positioning:

Technologically advanced and particularly fast image processing (PRIME), discriminating functions and features, and the in-body Shake Reduction system make the K20D a genuine top class camera for ambitious photographers.  It is durable, compact and easy to use. It has a dust and splash-proof body and is compatible with all Pentax K-mount lenses.

Data at a glance:

* New 15.1 Megapixel CMOS Sensor with dust protection (Dust Reduction)
* Shake Reduction (SR) of the opto-magnetic 3D-Sensor adds up to 4 stops to handheld shooting
* 11-point AF with 9 Cross-sensors and individual AF-point selection
* Sensitivity ISO 100 – ISO 6400
* 2.7’’ monitor with 230,000 dots
* Pentax KAF2 lens mount
* Free selection of white balance with the auto bracketing function
* 14 Bit DA converter
* File formats: JPEG in 4 compression steps, RAW (DNG or PEF formats selectable)
* Preview Function: Real Time, Optical and Digital Preview
* Optional: Battery Grip, interchangeable focusing screens
* SD and SDHC memory cards
* Dimensions: 141.5 (W) x 101 (H) x 70 (D) mm,
Weight: 715g (without battery or memory card)
* Recommended Retail Price (body only)  £899.99
* Body + 18-55mm lens £ 999.99
* Availability March 2008

Modifications from previous model (K10D):

* 14.6 Megapixels (effective)
* 2.7’’ Monitor with a resolution of 230,000 dots
* Live View
* Sensitivity ISO 100 to ISO 6400
* Custom Image with 4 colour profiles
* 36 programmable Custom Functions
* X-sync socket for studio flash systems
* Continuous Burst Mode with 20 fps at 1.6 megapixels image size
* Finer steps in JPEG format
* White balance bracketing

The above is from the Pentax press release. We also gather that the camera has FF/BF fine focus tuning for 20 lenses. Samples seen so far indicate that performance to ISO 3200 is well above the expected benchmark for a 14.6 megapixel camera. Samsung say that the chip has sensel sites the same size as typical 12 megapixel sensors due to improved architecture.

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