As discussed in the Launch Announcement just before PMA, the Pentax K20D is now surprisingly the highest resolution Digital SLR in its class of prosumer DSLRs. That statement doesn't really convey the real comparison since the only current camera with higher resolution than the 14.6 MP (megapixel) K20D is the $8000 Canon 1Ds III with a full-frame 21.1 MP image.

The Pentax K20D has the highest resolution available in an APS-C sensor SLR. It is 20% higher resolution than the new Sony A700/Nikon D300 Sony sensor pair at 12.2 MP and almost 50% higher than the Canon 40D. Those are numbers that are hard to ignore.

Those who wondered why Pentax entered into a partnership with Samsung a few years ago finally have their answer. Samsung wanted to play in the high-end sensor market with Sony and Panasonic; their partnership with Pentax was to develop sensors for the digital SLR market. We don't know details yet, but we have to guess the Hoya merger also plays into this scenario since Hoya is the world's largest maker of optical glass. You would be surprised to see a list of companies who buy their lens glass from Hoya (THK).

There is no disputing the fact that the Pentax K20D is now the highest resolution prosumer DSLR; however, everyone has learned that sensor resolution is not the only thing that matters in image quality. As the high-resolution but tiny point-and-shoot sensors have proved, a higher resolution is not necessarily better.

Pentax addressed this concern when the K20D was announced. By reducing the area between pixels, Samsung/Pentax claimed the sensor design used larger pixels that are the same size as 12 MP designs. If this is true, the image quality of the K20D should be spectacular.

The sensor is also CMOS like the pioneering CMOS sensors of Canon and the architecture of the latest Sony/Nikon/Olympus sensors. In fact, all the recent top sensors have been CMOS, relegating 10 MP CCDs to low-end to midrange models. The lone exception is the announced Sony A350, which will sport a 14.2 MP CCD sensor.

For all of these reasons we couldn't wait to get our hands on a K20D just as soon as they were available. The K20D is finally shipping, and over the next few weeks we will be working on a detailed review of the Pentax K20D performance. Looking around the web, there has been so little information available about the k20D that we felt our readers would appreciate some first impressions. As you have probably already figured out, we were also impressed enough in our early testing that we wanted to share what we've found so far with you.

Resolution and Image Quality
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  • dug777 - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    I think I understand what you're saying, like A & S (full Manual even) priority modes from Nikon, but within Program auto?
  • haplo602 - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Hey finaly an SLR review on anandtech I can agree with.

    BUT you left out THE big feature of K20D - dynamic range manipulation. You can move the dynamic range in one or both directions on the K20D.

    f.e. the camera will shoot the shadows at 200iso while highlights are shot at 100iso ... like a real time HDR option.

    I saw comparison photos of this in a magazine and that was a WOW moment (unlike Windows Vista :-)). finaly one revolutionary feature and long needed in the DSLR technology.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    We were also impressed with the dynamic range expansion options on the K20D, and we will be covering this in more detail in the full review. Most other manufacturers in prosumer space have similar capabilities under differnt names, but the flexibility of the Pentax variant will definitley be examined in the full review.
  • dash2k8 - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    It's always good to see companies push the technology envelope, because other brands will be forced to follow suit and in the end, the consumers benefit. From a practical point, however, this Pentax release would probably not be as big an industry splash as, say, a Canon 50D with 14.6 mpixels, given the market for each brand. But it sure paves the way for a brighter tech future for all photographers.
  • Heidfirst - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    oh & apart from the SDM part compare the specs. of it to the Tokina AT-X 165 PRO DX ... ;)
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Tokina is the T in THK (Tokina Hoya Kenko) and has recently developed several lenses with Pentax. These Tokina lenses are offered in mounts other than Pentax so as not to compete with thier own brand. However, as you point out, SDM is not a feature of these Tokina lenses.
  • WalkingDead - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    The Pentax lens also has full weather seals.
  • Heidfirst - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link


    The lone exception is the announced Sony A350, which will sport a 14.2 MP CCD sensor.

    at least in my part of the world the A350 has been shipping for a week or so.


    Whenever a recent Pentax is in our hands, we are again reminded of the usefulness of Hyperprogram, where you can instantly shift the aperture or shutter speed (front and rear dials) with the camera shifting other program parameters

    this sounds very similar to what is available on Minolta/Sony & I just always presumed that all other camera manufacturers had similar?
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    The Sony A350 has not yet shipped in the US market. It is not even available direct from Sony, who says it will be available March 24th. Amazon is showing the A350 will be released April 25th. The new Sony A200, announced at CES, has been available in the US for several weeks.
  • Heidfirst - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    I am assured that the A350 is now shipping in the USA - 1 well known guy on the forums is expecting his today.

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