Pentax Optio VS20 review

Inexpensive travel zoom with controls for horizontal and vertical shooting

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  • Inexpensive
  • Broad focal range
  • Easy to use
  • Automatic panorama stitching


  • Autofocus easily confused
  • White balance varies
  • Some 'effects' look like mistakes
  • So-so battery life
  • Twin controls are a gimmick

Most compact digital cameras are depressingly identikit, so our spirits lift when a manufacturer attempts a different approach. But is the 16 megapixel Pentax Optio VS20 trading on gimmicks?

In a first of its kind for a compact camera, it offers two shutter release buttons, zoom levers and tripod attachment screws. One set is on the top and bottom plates - as normal - while the second set is on the left and right flanks.

The theory is that the essential controls are readily to hand, whether shooting with the camera held vertically or horizontally.

Pentax Optio VS20 review

Less eccentric is the fact that the camera packs in a 20x optical zoom - thereby propelling the Pentax Optio VS20 into the ever-burgeoning travel zoom category - even if the body that surrounds it is thicker in depth than most competing models with as big a lens.

Supported by sensor-shift anti-shake, this provides a very useful focal range equivalent to a wide-angle 28mm to 560mm in 35mm terms.

We're also offered a macro mode that can achieve sharp results as close as 1cm - again helpful in broadening the camera's application - plus 1280 x 720 pixels HD video.

Pentax Optio VS20 review

Both stills and movies are framed via the anti-reflective 3-inch, 460k dot resolution back screen.

Of course all this needs setting in context, and that context is a snapshot camera priced at a very reasonable £199.99 in the UK, or $249.95 in the US.

This puts it in direct competition with the Olympus SZ-14 boasting 14MP and a 24x optical zoom.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Effective Camera Resolution16 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyOptio
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Eye-Fi Card
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom20x
Digital Zoom7.2x
Brand NamePentax
FeaturesFace Recognition, Blink Detection, Smile Detection, Live View, Orientation Sensor, Continuous Shooting Mode, Self-timer
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMotion JPEG (AVI)
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)170 g
Image Sensor Size1/2.33" (6.13 mm x 4.60 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3456
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height60 mm
Width108 mm
Depth34 mm
Focal Length5 mm to 100 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
External FlashNo
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerRicoh Imaging Company, Ltd.
Product ModelVS20
Product NameOptio VS20 Compact Camera
Product LineOptio
Exposure Control

Program AE

Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number14139
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

On top of its 20x wide-angle zoom (from 28 to 560mm), the Optio VS20 offer a second release shutter button on the side. This is a real help when taking portrait pictures.

The Optio VS20 is filled with the latest technologies, like one of the lastest generation 16MP sensor for exceptionnal sharpness, a 20X optical zoom and a large 3" coloured LCD screen. It also benefits from a new mode for low light conditions, offering less noise and better sharpness.

Thanks to its high end performance, the Optio VS20 is the ideal compact camera for everyday pictures as well as for travelling and sports images.

Package Contents
  • Optio VS20 Compact Camera
  • USB Cable I-USB7
  • AV-IAVC7 Video Cable
  • Rechargeable Battery Li-Ion D-DLI92
  • Battery Charger D-BC92
  • O-ST104 Strap
  • Software CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year