The S20 sharing its body with the S10 runs in the family design which started with the A5, A5 Zoom and A50. The neat but robust body and retracting / self covering lens means the S20 (like the S10) is a camera you can easily slip into your bag or carry around without it feeling fragile.
Holding the camera in your right hand the small plastic notch on the front helps grip, but the lack of a real hand grip does mean that holding the camera firmly can be less easy than cameras featuring one (such as the Nikon Coolpix 800). That said, carrying the camera is easy, it's just the right size to be held in the palm of your hand or in a belt case (none supplied).
Controls feel well made if a little plastic. The shutter release button feels good and it's easy to feel when you've reached the half-press auto-focus position. One of my pet hates is cameras with a poor shutter release, the S20 doesn't suffer from this.
Some other nice touches are the plastic covers to the connectors, rotating hand strap connector and tightening clip on the hand strap (which means the strap won't slip off your wrist).
With its older brother
As you can see in this shot the S20 shares alot with the S10. In fact the only noticeable differences are the metallic diagonal finger grip, champagne finish metal case and relocated backup battery slot (Oh and of course the S20 / 3.3 labels...). Other than that the cameras are identical, this includes the operating system and features.
Rear LCD Display
The rear LCD is of the same quality as used on the Pro 70 with a VERY low reflection coating and bright image it's easy to use in any lighting conditions, add to that it's high resolution and extremely fast refresh rate (the displayed image is one of the fastest I've seen, bettered only by Sony digital cameras) and you've got an excellent little LCD.
Two different display modes are available, live preview image display or live preview with overlaid settings information, just hit the DISPLAY button to switch.
Top information LCD
Display details clockwise from top-left:
|Flash status||Auto, On, Off, Anti Redeye|
|Remaining image capacity||(counter)|
|Image quality||Super-fine (~1,459KB
@ 2048 x 1536)
Fine (~850KB @ 2048 x 1536)
Normal (~300KB @ 2048 x 1536)
Medium (1024 x 768)
Small (640 x 480)
|Battery status||Low battery indicator|
|Exposure Compensation||on, off|
|White balance override||WB indicates override|
|Macro mode||on, off|
|Self Timer||on, off|
The viewfinder is positioned above the LCD, the camera is small enough not to suffer from "nose smear" using either your left or right eye (well, at least for me). The viewfinder doesn't feature any parallax correction lines but does have a pair of center brackets for composition. The indicator lights (described below) are positioned close enough to the viewfinder to be visible when using the finder. I personally found the LCD good enough, although not one of the newer reflective "super LCDs" such as found on the Sony DSC-F505.
Rear light indicators show status of:
|Green||Ready to record|
|Flashing Green||Recording / Reading CF card|
|Red||Ready to record with flash Flashing|
|Red||Camera blur warning (low light warning)|
|Orange (bottom)||Macro mode|