Design and Key Features

The PowerShot D20 is a compact camera made of a mix of metal and high grade plastic. It's much more stylish than the original D10, and a welcome change from the boxy, industrial designs of most of its peers. The D20 is available in blue, silver, and yellow (color selection may vary in your country).

The D20 can spend up to an hour underwater at depths of up to 10 meters (33 feet). If you want to go even deeper, then you may be interested in Canon's WP-DC45 housing, which increases the maximum depth to 40 meters. Being a waterproof camera, it should come as no surprise that the D20 is also dustproof. According to Canon, the camera can take a drop from 1.5 meters (4.5 feet) onto a plywood surface - it may not fare as well when it hits concrete or asphalt.

The PowerShot D20 fits well in the hand, though the placement of the zoom controller (shown below) is awkward.

It's also easy to confuse the power and playback buttons, as they feel identical.
The D20 has a pair of sealed doors. While each door has just one locking mechanism, that's okay, since they're nearly impossible to open accidentally.

The camera's I/O ports can be seen here, and include USB+A/V output, HDMI, and DC-in.

The PowerShot D20 doesn't hassle you about checking the seals every time you turn the camera on, unlike some of its peers. That said, you'll still want to thoroughly inspect them, looking for errant sand or other debris. A water-repellent coating prevents water from collecting on the lens when you pull it out of the water, and it worked well in our tests.

The camera's 3-inch LCD has good sharpness for composing and reviewing photos. Above water, we found both outdoor and low light visibility to be adequate. Underwater, the D20's screen was bright enough to locate and track fast-moving fish.

At the top-right of the back of the camera is a thumb rest, two buttons for controlling the zoom, and a dedicated movie recording button. The placement of the zoom controller feels rather awkward when holding the camera with one hand.

One thing that you won't find on the D20 that many other waterproof cameras feature is an LED lamp. Although you might not miss this in everyday shooting, LED lamps are handy as video lights and to illuminate subjects underwater, where the sun's rays can't penetrate as strongly. The D20 does, however, have an AF-assist lamp, which helps the camera focus in low light.

The main menu is attractive, easy-to-navigate, and offers 'Hints & Tips' that explain what each option does. The Function menu is your shortcut menu, and allows you to quickly adjust white balance, ISO, the self-timer, and more.

Shooting Modes

Shooting modes include Smart Auto (which selects one of 32 scene modes automatically), Program mode (which lets you directly adjust more options), and numerous scene and special effect modes. Thanks to its dedicated video button, the D20 lets you record movies in any shooting mode, complete with scene selection and special effects.

Miniature effect makes things like cars look like toys. Results are best when the photo is taken from above. The always-popular Color Accent (AKA selective color) feature highlights the color of your choice, leaving the rest black and white.

When it comes to taking pictures underwater, the PowerShot D20 offers two dedicated shooting modes (underwater and underwater macro), as well as an underwater white balance preset. While the camera can use its GPS (described below) to tell you your altitude, it does not work when you're diving.

As with the vast majority of low priced compact cameras, the PowerShot D20 offers few manual controls. The most interesting is buried in the scene mode menu, and is called Long Shutter. Here, you'll be able to select shutter speeds ranging from 1 to 15 seconds. Other manual controls are custom white balance and exposure compensation.

Stitch panoramas

Whereas most modern compact cameras offer 'sweep panorama' features, Canon still makes you do it the old fashioned way, by lining up one section at a time, and stitching it later on your computer. Canon includes its venerable PhotoStitch software for this purpose, but Photoshop and other more modern tools do a better job of putting a panorama together.

This panorama, composed of five shots, was stitched using Adobe Photoshop CS6. Aside from some highlight clipping, the final result looks pretty good.


Probably the most notable feature on the PowerShot D20 (aside from the fact that it can go underwater) is its built-in GPS - something not found on its predecessor. This is a no-frills GPS that will locate you and track your position, and that's it. No landmarks, maps, or compass here. Location data can be embedded into both stills and videos.

The GPS Logger function will turn the receiver on occasionally (even when the camera is switched off), to update your location. These logs can be imported into Canon's Map Utility software, which will show your route, and where photos were taken. This feature puts a considerable strain on your battery, though.

The GPS menu on the PowerShot D20 is very simple. You can turn the receiver on or off, and decide whether you want the battery-draining logging feature active. In playback mode you can display your coordinates and altitude (which is provided by the GPS and not a manometer).

On the relatively open terrace outside DPReview headquarters, it took the D20 about 90 seconds to acquire its location. Down on the ground, surrounded by mid-rise buildings, the camera struggled to figure out where it was, and eventually gave up. This is not usual for cameras with built-in GPSs. As expected, the GPS does not work underwater.

One of the big differences between the PowerShot D10 and D20 are in the movie department. The D20 can record videos at 1920 x 1080 (24 frames/second) with monaural sound. Video length is file-size limited to 4GB, so the camera will stop recording after 15 minutes at the 1080p setting. You can also record video at 720/30p or VGA, with 30 and 60 minute time limits, respectively. You'll find movie samples on the next page.