May 24, 2008 In the never-ending quest to create a point of difference that might offer a commercial advantage for a month or two, the intelligence of the compact camera has rapidly advanced to the point where bang-per-buck is truly remarkable. PENTAX’s new US$300 Optio V20 goes on sale next week in Japan to help overcome one of happysnapping’s greatest problems – blinking subjects (details inside). The V20’s 'Digital Shake Reduction' reaches new levels too, and compensates not just for the snappers shaking hands, but moving subjects too, and if your hands are shaking when you play back the images it will compensate for those movements too.

The V20 weighs in at 145 grams, delivers an 8-megapixel compact digital camera with 5x optical lens – those words spin off the tongue very easily, but it isn’t that long ago that a lens of this range and quality on a 35mm camera would have cost you a lot more than this camera alone. For those who still think in 35mm equivalents, that's a 36-180mm zoom.

The Optio V20 also has a 3.0-inch LCD monitor with approximately 230,000 dots that enables images and the text to be displayed largely and clearly. The LCD monitor has a wide viewing angle of 170 degrees from all directions, making it easy to confirm images, even when looking at the screen diagonally. The LCD also comes newly coated with an AR (Anti-Reflection) coat that suppresses outside light and reduces reflections, making it more easily viewable outdoors.

As with most digital apparatus, it’s the software that makes all the difference and the Optio V20 is equipped with the “Face Recognition AF&AE;” function that automatically detects and focuses on faces, and sets the optimum exposure. The new Optio V20 has a full house of digital alchemy application functions such as the “Smile Capture” function that determines smiles and photographs them automatically and the “Blinking Detection” function where the camera tells the user whether the people blinked when the photo was taken.

The PENTAX Auto Picture mode is another set of clever algorithms which enables the camera to automatically assess the conditions and choose the best settings based on the mode set by the user - Landscape, Portrait, Night Scene, Normal, and newly adopted Flower and Sports mode.

Digital SR (Shake Reduction) mode reduces camera shakes and blurring of the subjects when photographing still images. The sensitivity is adjusted automatically, to as high as the ultrahigh sensitivity of ISO 6400, to match the brightness of the subjects. This enables for photography with fast shutter speeds, and images with less blurs.

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