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Pentax announces Optio VS20 20x zoom with twin shutter buttons

By dpreview staff on Jan 25, 2012 at 22:00 GMT

Pentax has announced the Optio VS20, possibly the first compact camera with a second shutter button and zoom lever for portrait-orientation shooting. Beyond that it's a pretty well-specified 20x compact superzoom, featuring a 28-560mm equivalent zoom lens with sensor-shift image stabilization for its 16MP CCD. It's not the smallest 20x zoom camera we've seen but it manages to include a anti-glare-coated 460k dot 3.0" LCD and costs $249/£199, so it's not uncompetitive.

There's precious little in the way of adventure on the part of compact camera makers, so we're pleased to see Pentax trying something a little different. Under Hoya ownership Pentax began to make interesting looking compacts, and we're hoping new owner Ricoh encourages it to continue this experimentation. Twin shutter buttons may not be the most radical innovation (Kodak's Z981 had one), but the inclusion of the zoom lever and extra tripod socket make it a potentially useful feature.

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Press Release:


(DENVER, CO) January 25, 2012…PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION announced the Optio VS20 digital compact camera today. This versatile model features a high-power 20X optical zoom lens (28-560mm equivalent) and a second vertical shutter-release button with zoom lever for effortless portrait oriented shooting. A vertical shutter release and zoom lever give the Optio VS20 a unique feature typically found on DSLR cameras, which lends itself to added stability at long optical zooms, as well as comfortable grip for such images as portraits, high rise buildings and architecture, monuments, trees, sports action, and panorama frames. The Optio VS20 even includes a vertical tripod socket for outstanding stabilized vertical support.  A new Handheld Night Snap mode also is introduced to capture beautiful images with minimal blur and noise even in low light settings.

The Optio VS20 body is built in a compact digital form factor, and offers several other advanced functions and user-friendly features including:

  • A 16.0 megapixel CCD sensor with mechanical sensor shift Shake Reduction for stabilized, blur-free images even in low lighting
  • A large 3.0 inch, wide view (approx. 170 degrees) LCD for easy image capture and review
  • Auto Picture mode that automatically chooses the best camera settings
  • Triple Shake Reduction (SR) for sharp, blur-free images and video
  • Other new scene modes including Fish-eye, Sketch modes and a Stretch filter for more creative options 

The PENTAX Optio VS20 will be available in noble black and brilliant white on for $249.95 in February 2012.


The 20X optical zoom lens with 28mm wide-angle coverage handles a variety of subjects and scenes

The Optio VS20 features a high-performance, extra-powerful 20X optical zoom lens covering focal lengths from 28mm wide angle to 560mm super-telephoto (equivalent in the 35mm format).  The extra-wide zoom range captures images in a wide range of subjects and scenes from landscapes to sports events.   A high-quality Macro mode shoots down to just one centimeter from the subject.  An  Intelligent Zoom function further extends the zoom range to approximately 144X to cover the focal length of an approximately 4032mm super-telephoto lens (in the 35mm format) without compromising image quality.

Effortless, comfortable vertical-position shooting with image orientation shift and vertical position tripod socket

The Optio VS20 enhances vertical shooting three ways:

  • An extra shutter-release button and a second zoom lever offers a better grip for vertical shots 
  • Automatic shift of image display orientation (from horizontal landscape to vertical portrait by detecting vertical alignment with its orientation sensor)
  • A vertical-position tripod socket to securely set the camera up with a lighter, more portable tripod

Exceptional image quality

With 16.0 effective megapixels, a high-performance smc PENTAX zoom lens, and a CCD shift Shake Reduction (SR) mechanism, the Optio VS20 delivers well-defined, high-quality images.  Even when enlarged, images offer high-resolution prints with outstanding edge-to-edge sharpness.

Large 3.0 inch LCD monitor

The Optio VS20 features an HVGA high-resolution 3.0 inch color LCD monitor with approximately 460,000 dots. Since this extra-large monitor provides a clear view of images and menus, the photographer can quickly and efficiently check captured images and menu settings. In addition, the monitor is treated with AG (Anti-Glare) coating to improve visibility by minimizing reflections and blocking stains such as fingerprints.

Triple Shake Reduction for sharp, blur-free images

Sensor-shift-type Shake Reduction (SR) mechanism

The advanced sensor shift SR mechanism produces sharp, blur-free images even under shake-prone shooting conditions such as when shooting with a telephoto lens, at sunset or indoors with low-lighting.

Digital SR mode*

During still-image shooting, the Optio VS20 automatically raises its sensitivity to as high as ISO 6400 by detecting the subject’s brightness level. This user-friendly feature allows photographers to capture the subject at faster shutter speeds to minimize the risk of camera shake and subject shake.

Movie SR mode**

During movie recording, the Movie SR mode effectively compensates for camera shake to produce beautiful, stabilized movie clips.

*When the Digital SR mode is selected, the recorded size is fixed at five megapixels (2592 x 1944 pixels).
** When the Movie SR mode is selected, the angle of view becomes narrower than normal shooting.

Automatic selection of the most appropriate shooting mode

The Optio VS20 features the PENTAX-developed Auto Picture mode, which automatically selects the most appropriate shooting mode for a given subject or scene by accurately assessing various photographic conditions over the entire image field. This user-friendly mode selects one of 15 shooting modes including Blue Sky and Sunset among others, and optimizes various camera settings (such as sensitivity and shutter speed) for the best results with minimal effort.

New Scene and Filter modes for greater creative options

Thirteen user-friendly scene modes allow the photographer to effortlessly capture beautiful images simply by selecting a desired scene mode for a given subject or scene.  Handheld Night Snap for low light allows photographers to take pictures while confirming the level of filtering effect on the LCD monitor, and Fish-eye and Sketch modes offer creative visual effects for more personalized expression.  A New Stretch filter extends a particular portion of an image for an eye-catching special effect.

Upgraded auto face recognition function with a new face recall function

The Optio VS20 Face Recognition AF & AE function offers a new Face Recall function that prioritizes a pre-registered face when optimizing focus and exposure settings, which comes in handy when taking group shots. To assist the photographer in capturing beautiful, lively snapshots, the Optio VS20 also provides other user-friendly features including the Smile Capture mode that automatically releases the shutter the moment the camera detects the subject’s smile, and the Blink Detection function that warns the photographer when the subject’s eyes close at the time of shutter release.

High-quality HDTV movie recording with pushbutton start

The Optio VS20 captures beautiful, high-definition movie clips (1280 x 720 pixels).* Since the camera provides an independent movie recording button on its back panel, the user can instantly start recording movie clips from any shooting mode. It also features three new digital filters (Fish-eye, Miniature and Sketch mode) to allow the user to experiment with more diversified visual expressions.

*When the Optio VS20’s AV output terminal is used, movie clips are output as normal image-size data. If the user wishes to play back movie clips at high-definition TV proportions (1280 x 720 pixels), the data must be transferred to a personal computer for playback.

Pentax Optio VS20 specifications

Body type
Body typeCompact
Max resolution4608 x 3456
Other resolutions3456 x 3456, 4608 x 2592, 3072 x 2304, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 480
Image ratio w:h1:1, 4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors17 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.33" (6.08 x 4.56 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ISOAuto (100-1600), 100, 200, 400,800, 1600, 3200, 6400
White balance presets4
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationSensor-shift
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsBest, Better, Good
File format
  • JPEG (EXIF 2.3)
  • DCF 2.0
  • DPOF
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)28–560 mm
Optical zoom20×
Maximum apertureF3.1 - F4.8
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Digital zoomYes (7.2x)
Manual focusYes
Normal focus range40 cm (15.75)
Macro focus range3 cm (1.18)
Number of focus points3
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3
Screen dots460,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT color LCD with Anti-reflective coating
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed4 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/2500 sec
Exposure modes
  • Programmed AE
Scene modes
  • Natural Skin Tone
  • Handheld Night Snap (5M)
  • Night Scene Portrait
  • Night Scene
  • Digital Panorama (2M per frame)
  • Landscape
  • Blue Sky
  • Sunset
  • Flower
  • Digital SR (ISO 3200-6400 5M)
  • Kids
  • Pet
  • Portrait
  • Food
  • Fireworks
  • Surf & Snow
  • Sport
  • Fisheye
  • Sketch
  • Miniature Filter
  • Text
  • Frame Composite (3M)
  • Green
Built-in flashYes
Flash range2.80 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-eye, Soft
Drive modes
  • One Shot
  • Self-Timer (10s, 2s, Remote 3s)
  • Continuous
  • Burst (5M, H/L)
  • Multi-Burst (5M, 16 VGA frames)
  • Remote Control
  • Auto Bracketing
Continuous drive1 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Videography features
Resolutions1280 x 720 (30, 15 fps), 640 x 480 (30, 15 fps), 320 x 240 (30, 15 fps)
FormatMotion JPEG
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC, Internal
Storage included16 MB Internal
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Remote controlYes (Optional O-RC1)
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion D-LI122 rechargeable battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)235 g (0.52 lb / 8.29 oz)
Dimensions111 x 61 x 38 mm (4.37 x 2.4 x 1.5)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo

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Total comments: 136
By Sdaniella (Jan 26, 2012)

... egads... now tripod makers will have to make a new 90-degree angle platform socket just to handle this 'new' model configuration...

1 upvote
anthony mazzeri
By anthony mazzeri (Jan 26, 2012)

There are two tripod sockets. The one on the side is extra, not the only one.

The K-01 is expected to have similar dual sockets as well.

By Hideg (Jan 26, 2012)

I guess you missed the part about the "additional" side tripod socket. Besides most tripods have a 90 deg tilt plate.

By tkpenalty (Jan 26, 2012)

Portrait grip on a P&S. Why not? Why arent other manufacturers adding buttons like that?

1 upvote
Michel Cojan
By Michel Cojan (Jan 26, 2012)

Hehehehehe !!! Now, this is hilarious ! First compact camera with dual (???!!!) shutter buttons. (Just trying to figure out how is holding the second shutter in "portrait" mode/vertically on a cellphone size camera). Or then, this is actually a DSLR "wannabe"???

Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (Jan 26, 2012)

small camera, big zoom, built in stabilisation, reasonably low price ... a retail delight :D

By glanglois (Jan 25, 2012)

Query: What does "environmentally sealed" mean in regard to this camera? Perhaps a typo?

Pierre Couture
By Pierre Couture (Jan 25, 2012)

I agree on the excess MP, cut it back to 10, but such a zoom range, if the lens is good, would make a superb travel camera.

By icexe (Jan 25, 2012)


By abolit (Jan 25, 2012)

what a waste!

1 upvote
By ashwins (Jan 25, 2012)

Two shutter-release buttons—cool! But 16 megapixels on 1/2.33" sensor—no thanks.

By sir_bazz (Jan 25, 2012)

Redundant shutter buttons......woot!

By rondhamalam (Jan 25, 2012)

pretending to be a D3S

By evogt500 (Jan 25, 2012)

I like it when manufacturers think out of the box. However, I can see alot of owners compaining about accidentally pressing the shutter or toggling the zoom with their pinky or ring finger.

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
By rsHari (Jan 26, 2012)

Maybe the buttons will only work according to the orientation. Hope the second one works only when the cam is held vertically.

By evogt500 (Jan 26, 2012)

Thats sounds like a good idea. But Orientation sensors that i know are not really fast enough for those "quick" snapshots.

By ARTASHES (Jan 25, 2012)

Pretty bright lenses I had to say not so wide thought
There is one point that I don't get why there are not using Sony's CMOS ? because of Q or what ? those CCD are not that good anymore compared to CMOS

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
By pforan (Jan 25, 2012)

Does anyone have trouble pressing the shutter button in portrait mode? I wasn't aware this was a problem requiring a solution.

1 upvote
By chris_j_l (Jan 25, 2012)

I met a photographer in Lisbon. He used a full handgrip camera for all his shooting - he lost his right hand late in life so he learned an unorthodox grip style, but a dual shutter grip was essential.

Valiant Thor
By Valiant Thor (Jan 25, 2012)

Great. Lets change all camera manufacturing process for the lefty in Lisbon.

By Wissett (Jan 26, 2012)

Not for me. I'm fine with keeping my finger on the one existing shutter button when I rotate the camera. I don;t need to fumble around looking for the other shutter button.

Max Archer
By Max Archer (Jan 25, 2012)

This is a completely brilliant idea from Pentax.

By putting a mostly useless extra shutter button on a forgettable camera, they've gotten themselves on the front page of DPReview and all the other photography sites. Who cares how it works, it's cheaper than buying ad space!

Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Jan 25, 2012)

Er, we put most new cameras on our front page.

By chris_j_l (Jan 25, 2012)

I think I can safely say if the news item is a new camera, some will complain that DPR is in the pockets of the manufacturers; if the news item is an article on photography styles or technique, some will complain that this is a hardware review site and what are non-hardware articles doing on the site and any article that falls between, it gets slated by both camps.

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
By 88SAL (Jan 26, 2012)

I honestly dont get these comments. When something exciting like the D700 gets announced, you would not want to know about it. I went away for a week and when I got back, the D4, Xpro1, and G1X were all announced and I was very happy to have DPR bring me that news. Would you prefer that the people around the DPR office were not aware and sharing industry information, while STILL providing reviews and previews at the usual pace? Look at this camera, do you think DPR junkies would be the primary consumers for this product? Besides in a day or two its pushed off the very top of the list and no one sees it anyway.

Keeps posting industry info DPR, you are an important media link.

Max Archer
By Max Archer (Jan 26, 2012)

I wasn't trying to give DPR a hard time or anything. Just pointing out that it's a smart marketing feature on Pentax's part.

By jj74e (Jan 25, 2012)

samsung mv800

By kevinschoenmakers (Jan 25, 2012)

I fail to see the point.

1 upvote
By idbar (Jan 25, 2012)

Well, noting that they haven't modified the camera to give more space to comfortably grab the camera in a vertical position. I probably have to agree with you.

By Graystar (Jan 25, 2012)

Musta had an excess supply of shutter buttons...

By Potemkin_Photo (Jan 25, 2012)

They should've put in 4 shutter buttons. You know, to appeal to the Nintendo DS generation. The ad could read, "Just get 3 friends and see who can shoot pictures the quickest! Annoy each other by ruining each other's shots! The options are endless!"

1 upvote
By ingram98ab (Jan 25, 2012)

could also mean the chinese workers were in an "overproduction strike", making more shutters than usual... They just crushed the strike like a boss.

1 upvote
By TONY M ROSE (Jan 25, 2012)

Looking like a RICOH all the time!

anthony mazzeri
By anthony mazzeri (Jan 26, 2012)

"Looking like a RICOH all the time!"

Motion jpeg, mono, 720p - yep, it's a Ricoh! ;)

By cgarrard (Jan 26, 2012)

What do you expect for $249.00? Buyers are spoiled nowadays... Maybe Pentax should price their stuff like Kodak and go under eh? Silly.

1 upvote
By dosdan (Jan 26, 2012)

1.3μm pixels. I wonder if the sensor's BSI. I doubt or they would have mentioned it.


By pascal16 (Jan 26, 2012)

fast lens at tele for a compact camera (f/4.8 is for a bridge usualy).

CCD sensor needs a very good image engine.
Mjpeg video is outdated.

By Dezzza (Jan 26, 2012)

I try to simulate 2-nd button with my phone and think it will be very camfortable to take pictures

Total comments: 136