Canon PowerShot D20 review

Canon introduces its latest underwater compact, the PowerShot D20

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  • Durable and robust
  • Fantastic underwater
  • Great video capture
  • Wealth of movie modes
  • GPS logger


  • Lengthy shutter lag
  • Hard and slow to focus
  • Bulky design

Canon's second underwater-dedicated compact camera, the PowerShot D20, is chocked full of impressive features and functions that include a 12.1MP HS System, a 28mm wide lens with 5x optical zoom, GPS tagging, Full HD movie quality and a bright 3-inch LCD display.

This rugged point-and-shoot model, priced at a competitive £349.99 in the UK and $349 in the US, follows in the footsteps of its brother the Canon PowerShot D10; one of the first to provide underwater shooting capabilities in the compact camera market. It is set to compete against the likes of the Panasonic FT4 and Fuji XP150.

Canon PowerShot D20 review

Expected not only to surpass the quantity and quality of technology fitted in its predecessor, the Canon PowerShot D20 has a wealth of added functions and settings that pitch it as one of the most feature-laden underwater shooters currently available.

These features include a new underwater macro mode, Intelligent IS to keep photos and videos sharp throughout a range of shooting scenarios, a sensitivity range that reaches up to ISO 3200, plus increased video options that range from Full HD at 24fps to Super Slow Motion, ideal for documentary-style underwater shoots.

Canon PowerShot D20 review

The Canon PowerShot D20 at a glance
1/2.3 type back-illuminated CMOS, f/3.9-f/4.8
Lens: 5.0-25.0mm (35mm equivalent 28-140mm), 5x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom
LCD screen: 7.5cm PureColor II LCD (TFT), 461k dots
ISO range: ISO Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Dimensions: 112.3 x 70.8 x 28.0mm, 228g (with battery and card)

Built with the adventure-seeker in mind, the camera is waterproof to a depth of 10m (33ft) or, coupled with the optional WP-DC45 waterproof case (which costs around £200/$350), shooters can plummet to 40m (130ft). It can withstand knocks and falls of 1.5m (5ft), is freeze-proof to -10C (14F) and provides protection against dust and debris.

The GPS Logger tags images with location data, enabling you to track your shooting adventures using the supplied Map Utility software and Google Earth. It also carries a bevy of pre- and post-shoot photo effects, a Movie Digest creator, Smart Auto, with 32 scene options for capturing photos and 21 for movie making.

Build quality and handling

One word that sums up the look and feel of the Canon PowerShot D20 is 'rugged'. Portability, and debatably aesthetics, are sacrificed to facilitate a more robust build quality. The unit is flatter than the bubble-like build of its predecessor, resembling an everyday compact camera, with one notable design alteration; it dons an undulating curve along one side, perhaps resembling a fish tail or even shark bite, to keep with the aquatic theme.

The camera feels reassuringly heavyweight in the palm, with strong airtight seals protecting the camera's innards.

Canon PowerShot D20 review

The camera's menus are delivered logically, with nothing unordinary presenting itself. On the whole, the buttons are presented in a sensible layout, but some may argue that the thumb pad wastes valuable retail space on the rear, and the shutter's position between the on/off switch and the playback mode could lead to confusion.

Canon PowerShot D20 review

What is more, unlike the PowerShot D10's central lens position, the Canon PowerShot D20's design sees the lens wedged at the top-left of camera, making it trickier to compose shots. In fact most of the images gained during our review were taken one-handed.

Canon PowerShot D20 review

This may be viable for most shooting scenarios, but in situations such as underwater or in low light environments, handling the Canon PowerShot D20 may become more difficult.

Canon PowerShot D20 review

What's more, photographers can only tie the wrist strap to the left-hand side, which can be restrictive. This is especially disappointing for those upgrading from its underwater predecessor, who were offered the choice of four ports. The camera also lacks a framing grid, which may hamper some users when composing frames.

Canon PowerShot D20 review

Handling the camera isn't as smooth sailing as is often experienced with Canon's fleet of cameras, most notably due to a slow and sluggish performance. In most situations autofocus copes well, but in low light situations, the autofocus really struggles and often refuses to shoot without flash, which is altogether weaker than expected.

Canon PowerShot D20 review

The recycle time between shots is incredibly long, and waiting to change functions between shots is equally drawn out. We found the only way to focus on a subject is to depress the shutter fully, then to hold for another second or so for the shot to fire. There is then another delay of a few seconds while each image is written. As a result the D20 is not a suitable buy for those looking to capture photos of sports and action, wildlife or impatient children.

The LCD screen is viewable at nearly all angles, and is wide enough to offer users a great scope for composing. Brightness is adjustable in the settings, but we found the factory default to be on par.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyPowerShot D
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Eye-Fi Card
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom5x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameCanon
DurabilityWater Proof, Shock Proof, Freeze Proof, Dust Proof
FeaturesSelf-timer, Wink Detection, Face Detection, Smile Detection, Continuous Shooting Mode, Orientation Sensor, Live View
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMOV, MPEG-4, Motion JPEG
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)228 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE, REACH, ENERGY STAR
Image Sensor Size1/2.3" (6.16 mm x 4.62 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4000 x 3000
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height70.8 mm
Width112.3 mm
Depth28 mm
Product SeriesD
Focal Length5 mm to 25 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
External FlashNo
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerCanon, Inc
Product ModelD20
Product NamePowerShot D20 Compact Camera
Product LinePowerShot
Exposure Control

Program AE

Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number6147B012AA
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Rugged and reliable the PowerShot D20 includes HS system and 5x optical zoom with Intelligent IS to bring high performance stills and movies to every outdoor adventure, plus GPS to track the thrills.

Package Contents
  • PowerShot D20 Compact Camera
  • NB-6L Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • Charger
Limited Warranty1 Year