Canon PowerShot D20 First Impressions Review$349.99
Lens & Sensor
The Canon D20 makes use of a 1/2.3-inch, 12.8-megapixel CMOS sensor to capture still images and video. Much like Pentax did this year on its own rugged adventure cam (the Optio WG-2), Canon decided to make the switch over to a CMOS imager after using a CCD chip on the previous PowerShot D10. The size and pixel count of the sensor remain relatively unchanged, but the move to CMOS will likely translate into some differences in performance.
The lens on the D20 has also been upgraded from its predecessor. Canon bumped the optical zoom from 3x up to 5x on the new camera—still not a huge amount of zoom, but 5x is enough to get the job done in most shooting situations. Since the lens is new, it also has different focal lengths than the lens on the D10. The D20's lens has a focal length range of 5 - 25mm and a 35mm equivalent of 28 - 140mm. The focusing range is 5cm - infinity for normal shooting or 1cm - 50cm in macro mode. Essentially, the new lens allows you to get a lot closer to your subject (and be in focus) than the lens on the D10.
By adding half an inch to the LCD size and doubling the pixel count of the screen, Canon effectively gave the D20 a huge boost over its predecessor in terms of LCD quality. The screen runs 3 inches diagonally and has a 461,000-pixel resolution, which isn't bad for an underwater camera. Not to mention it runs circles around the screen on Canon's previous D10 waterproof camera.
The built-in flash on the D20 is again something that Canon put energy into upgrading over the camera's predecessor. The flash has an improved range in that it can cover from between 1 - 11 feet for illumination. When we say "improved range", we really mean it can cover one extra foot over the flash on the Canon D10, so don't get all excited just yet about this brand new flash. Canon continues to offer red-eye reduction and slow synchro flash features on the D20 as well.
Jacks, Ports & Plugs
The only cable that ships with the Canon D20 is a USB cable for connecting the camcorder to your computer. But the model does have an HDMI output and its USB port also doubles as an AV output. To charge the provided battery pack, Canon does include a battery charging station that plugs directly into a wall outlet, but there's also a DC-input on the camera (a cable for which is sold separately).
The Canon D20 comes with a NB-6L rechargeable battery pack that slips into a compartment on the bottom of the camera. This is the same battery that shipped with the previous Canon D10 waterproof camera, and Canon claims the battery should let you take roughly 280 shots on a full charge.
The Canon D20 works with SD-type memory cards, and that includes SDHC and SDXC cards (all of which are the same physical size, but come with different storage capacities). The memory cards slip into a slot located in the same area as the battery compartment. Both are protected by a locking port cover that can be a challenge to get open with one hand. Canon has to make these doors seal tightly, otherwise water could enter the sensitive port areas, but the locking system put in place on the D20 is strangely confusing to figure out at first.
If you don't know by now, the Canon PowerShot D20 is waterproof up to 33 feet underwater. That's the camera's big selling point, and if you're not looking for a waterproof model then you shouldn't have much interest in the D20. The waterproof design of the D20 is solid, but we're dismayed by the fact that the 33-foot depth limitation is the same depth the previous Canon D10 could travel. Couldn't Canon have improved the waterproofing just a tad on its new adventure-cam?
In addition to being waterproof, the D20 can also take a fall from up to five feet without any problems (Canon calls this "shockproof") and it can function in temperatures ranging from 14°F to 104°F. So, if your taking the camera to the Caribbean you should be fine... but an arctic winter will probably still cause the D20 to malfunction.
A new hardware feature on the D20 is a built-in GPS tracker that will geotag your photos and video clips so you can recall where each shot was taken. A word of warning: we've had plenty of trouble with GPS-enabled cameras in the past, and many times we've failed to get the GPS to work at all. If the GPS isn't getting a signal on the D20, don't be shocked, just be patient and try to move to an area with more open space and less interference.