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Monday, September 1, 2008

Does Your Camera Have An Evil Twin?

What’s in a camera’s DNA? We’ll show you the features and technologies that have trickled down from the top-end models to the popular sweet-spot cameras.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Pentax K20D & Samsung GX-20
( “Identical” Twins ) Electronics giant Samsung and longtime SLR-maker Pentax formed a partnership late in 2005 to jointly develop digital SLR cameras. The Pentax K20D and Samsung GX-20 are the most recent results of that venture. At the heart of these cameras is a new CMOS image sensor developed by Pentax and Samsung and manufactured by Samsung. It’s the highest-resolution, APS-C-sized (1.5x focal-length-factor) sensor as of this writing and the first CMOS (and first non-Sony) sensor used in a D-SLR from either company.

The K20D and GX-20 share a number of fine features, including first-rate autofocus (in good light) and metering performance, built-in sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all lenses, dust-reduction systems that include a mechanism to vibrate dust off the sensor assemblies, excellent weather-resistance and dustproofing thanks to 72 strategically placed seals, Live-View capability on their 2.7-inch LCD monitors and a handy RAW button that lets you switch from JPEG to RAW recording at a touch. Both cameras incorporate the unique sensitivity-priority AE (in which you can set the ISO instantly by rotating a dial and the camera sets the appropriate shutter speed and aperture for correct exposure at that ISO) and shutter/aperture-priority AE (in which the camera automatically sets the appropriate ISO for a user-selected shutter-speed/aperture combination). Both cameras feature multiple-exposure capability and in-camera RAW (to JPEG) conversion.

Probably the biggest difference between the cameras is that the K20D’s Pentax PRIME image-processing engine lets you choose from two RAW formats—Pentax’s own PEF or Adobe’s “universal” DNG—while the GX-20 provides only the DNG RAW format. Other differences: The buttons on the K20D are round, while many of those on the GX-20 are not. The handgrips and top-left corner of the bodies have slightly different shapes (so the accessory battery grips aren’t interchangeable between cameras), and the menus on the LCD monitor are different.

Both cameras can use all Pentax K-mount lenses (and even old Pentax screw-mount and medium-format lenses, with adapters), although best results will be with current Pentax and Samsung/Schneider lenses, especially the new Pentax SDM series.

evil twins
Pentax K20

evil twin
Pentax K20
evil twin
Samsung GX-20

evil twin
Samsung GX-20
The Pentax K20D and the Samsung GX-20 are almost indistinguishable cameras. Developed as part of a joint project between the companies, they share the same sensor and feature set. Externally, there are some subtle differences, and the Pentax allows you to choose from two RAW formats while the Samsung has only Adobe’s DNG RAW format.

Pentax K20D Samsung GX-20
Sensor: 14.6-megapixel CMOS 14.6-megapixel CMOS
Sensor Size: 23.4x15.6mm (1.5x) 23.4x15.6mm (1.5x)
Processor: PRIME Samsung
A/D Conversion: 12-bit 12-bit
Sensor Cleaning: Yes Yes
AF Points: 11 11
Metering: 16-segment, CW, spot 16-segment, CW, spot
ISO Range: 100-1600, exp. to 6400 100-1600, exp. to 6400
Shutter Speeds: 30 to 1⁄4000 sec., plus B 30 to 1⁄4000 sec., plus B
Max. Advance Rate: 3 fps 3 fps
Dimensions: 5.6x4.0x2.8 in. 5.6x4.0x2.8 in.
Weight: 25.2 oz. 25.2 oz.
Estimated Street Price: $1,299 $1,399 (with 18-55mm zoom)


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