Canon PowerShot D20 Review – The Canon PowerShot D20 looks to combine the best features from Canon's PowerShot range with a host of rugged features
Canon PowerShot D20 Review – Features
The Canon PowerShot D20 features a 5x optical zoom, which provides a focal length that’s equivalent to 28-140mm in 35mm terms. Behind the zoom lies a 12.1MP CMOS sensor that works in tandem with a DIGIC 4 processor to offer an ISO sensitivity range of 100-3200.
With a 1.9fps continuous burst rate, the D20 clearly isn’t designed for speed, although it excels in other areas by offering an Intelligent IS system to keep handheld shots sharp and prevent blur from being an issue. GPS is built in to allow you to track your journeys by assigning location data and full HD movies (1080p) are recorded at 24fps.
Like most waterproof compacts, the Canon D20 doesn’t support Raw and only shoots in the JPEG format, however there are functions to help shoot the very best images underwater, including an underwater macro mode and slow motion movie option. At the rear the D20 features a 3in, 460k-dot display and to ensure it’s resistant to the harshest conditions, the camera is waterproof down to 10m, shockproof to a height of 1.5m, operates in temperatures as low as -10 °C and is fully protected from dust.
If users fancy photographing at deeper depths than 10m, an optional 40m waterproof housing (WP-DC45) is also produced by Canon for £179.
Canon PowerShot D20 Review – Build & Performance
The ergonomic body provides an excellent grip in the hand, while the D20’s large bright buttons make it easy to handle underwater. It feels robust, but lacks two locking catches on the battery door like many other waterproof compacts. The 3in, 460k-dot screen displays a crisp image; and the addition of active display technology, whereby one can tap or tilt the camera to scroll through captured images, works very well.
Canon PowerShot D20 Review – Underwater Performance
To test how the Canon D20 performs underwater, we set to its underwater mode with the flash switched off before taking a series of shots in a swimming pool. The D20’s large buttons made underwater operation easy and the AF system locked on without fuss. Exposures were excellent, but a faster continuous burst would have been preferable, especially when some of the best shots seem to happen so quickly underwater.
Canon PowerShot D20 Review – Freeze Test
Our first review sample didn’t pass our freeze test and refused to switch on after being frozen overnight. To find out if our review sample was faulty, we called in a second review sample from Canon and repeated the freeze test. Second time around it sprung back into life after being frozen with no ill effects just as we’d expected.
Canon PowerShot D20 Review – Shock Test
The D20 has been made to withstand drops and knocks from a maximum height of 1.5m. When we dropped it onto a hard floor in the studio it barely made a scratch on the body. It shrugged off the heavy impact and continued to work just as well as it did out of the box.
Canon PowerShot D20 Review – Image Quality
The sharpest results on the D20 are captured between ISO 100 and ISO 800. Beyond this point images get softer and lack vibrancy. At ISO 100 the sensor resolves 22 line pairs per millimetre and in real-world conditions images are well exposed, with detail being lost only in exceptionally bright conditions.
Canon PowerShot D20 Review – Verdict
The Canon D20 was the winner of our tough compact group test last year, but in that time we’ve seen many new models arrive, such as the Nikon AW110, Panasonic FT5 and Olympus TG-2. If you’re looking for a camera that produces excellent images both above and below water, the Canon D20 won’t disappoint and is a good option to consider.
The resolution of the screen isn’t quite as high as some of its competition so this is one area for improvement in the future. Though our first review sample failed the freeze test, our second sample passed with flying colours. The autofocus does has a tendency to stutter momentarily before acquiring focus in some situations and any DSLR users looking at the D20 should be prepared for a slower performance than what they’re used to.
That said, it’s an enjoyable waterproof camera to use and is built like a tank to survive even the most brutal of shooting environments.