Pentax Optio VS20 review

Inexpensive travel zoom with controls for horizontal and vertical shooting

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Despite looking enticingly flashy in the press shots with its broader than average zoom lens extended, when placed before you the Pentax Optio VS20 is a bit of a lump compared with travel zooms costing a little more, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 and other Panasonic TZ series cameras.

Odd white balance issues and occasionally struggling focus are perhaps more serious, since they lead to a hit and miss performance that lessens the camera's reliability.

We liked

The broad zoom range on offer here is always going to come in handy, enabling a wide range of framing options without the photographer having to step forward or back. Given this the pricing also seems very fair, since it's no costlier than your basic 5x zoom compact.

We disliked

The Pentax Optio VS20's picture performance is hit and miss, with occasional white balance issues, an inability to determine what it should be focusing on, and familiar compact camera bugbears including burnt out highlight detail and purple pixel fringing between areas of high contrast.

Final verdict

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. A pity, since on the face of it and in return for that extended zoom reach the Pentax Optio VS20 suggests very good value indeed.

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