The K20D inherits the K10D's body, with the exception of the addition of a flash sync socket. This is no bad thing, given how much we liked the K10D's design. It inherits a remarkably pro-level of exterior controls: metering, AF point mode, AF drive mode, bracketing, file format (via the RAW button), AE-L, AF, exposure compensation, ISO (by pressing the OK button), and anti-shake all get exterior buttons. This, combined with an excellent level of customization over the behavior of the dials puts almost everything you might need to change at your fingertips.
The only disappointment is having to enter the menus to change White Balance but that's the only definite take-the-camera-away-from-your-face function change. Just about everything else can be changed using external buttons, making the K20D a pleasure to use.
This is a very sturdy feeling camera. The dense rubber coating that covers all the key contact points, combined with a solid, weighty-feeling plastic makes the K20D feel durable in exactly the way that less expensive DSLRs just don't. It may not have the Magnesium-alloy body of the Nikon D300 or Canon 40D but it inspires similar levels of confidence.
Side by side
Below you can see the K20D flanked by the Nikon D300, Canon EOS 40D and the Olympus E3, which (Along with the Sony A700), offer similar specification levels and build quality. In this company it looks remarkably compact, in spite of offering weather-sealed body and a similar level of exterior controls.
In your hand
One of the best things about Pentax retaining the K10D's body is that it retains some of the best ergonomics in its class. It's a camera that sits comfortably in the hand and puts the key photographic controls exactly where you want them, making it pleasant to use for long periods of time.
The K20D features a bright and sharp 2.7" LCD monitor with 230,000 dots. This is pretty standard, although it is now out-classed by the Nikon D300 and Sony A700's 960,000 dot screens.
It's the first camera we've come across that can be adjusted for color cast to give a more color-accurate preview.
On top of the camera is a large LCD panel which provides a wide range of information about the current camera settings and exposure. The frames remaining display also doubles up to display information such as the exposure compensation setting and 'PC' or 'Pb' when the camera is connected to a computer or printer (PictBridge). The panel has a very bright green backlight which stays on for approximately nine seconds after pressing the exposure compensation button on the rear of the camera.
A breakdown of information displayed on the LCD panel can be found on the diagram below.
The K20D follows Pentax's tradition of providing excellent viewfinders in its digital SLRs. This is particularly admirable because viewfinder size and quality is rarely appreciated as one of the key features that increases SLR usability. All the more respect is due to Pentax for not skimping on an area of the specification that is unlikely to appear on the K20D's shelf tag.
It utilizes a glass pentaprism (K10D picture here) and achieves a 0.95x magnification with a 95% frame view. This all adds up to a bright and clear viewfinder view which appears surprisingly large and has no distortion. The eyecup is removable and and the supplied eyepiece cover can be attached to stop stray light from entering the chamber during long exposures.
Looking through the eyepiece the first thing you will notice are the AF frame and the spot metering frame. Normally the AF areas are not visible, the image below is simulated to indicate the position of the AF points. You can choose from Auto AF-point selection, manual selection or center point only.
Viewfinder status bar
Along the bottom of the viewfinder view is the status bar which carries a range of 'essential' information such as aperture, shutter speed and the focus indicator. The remaining frames indicator can be switched to become an ISO indicator, which is pretty handy.
* Indicates frames remaining / EV compensation /
ISO sensitivity (Sv or TAv modes, during change or permanently using a custom option).