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Canon PowerShot D20 Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Canon PowerShot D20, a rugged digital camera for the photographer who shoots in extreme conditions.

| Canon PowerShot D20 in Compact Cameras
Canon PowerShot D20 Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot D20 Front 2

The Canon PowerShot D20, announced in February 2012, is a digital camera designed for extreme outdoor activities. An upgrade to the D10, which has been available for over 3 years, it is water, shock, freeze and dustproof, available in white, blue and yellow for £279.00.

Canon PowerShot D20 Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot D20 Front 1

Canon PowerShot D20 Features

The rugged D20 is waterproof to 10m, shockproof to 1.5m, freezeproof to -10°C and is dustproof. It has a 12.1 CMOS megapixel sensor and is designed to let you shoot in low light without the flash or a tripod. It also has a 5x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 28-140mm, and has Intelligent IS to help take the sharpest pictures possible.

To make picture taking as easy as possible there is Smart Auto, which selects from 32 scenes and changes the camera settings accordingly. When shooting underwater there is Underwater Macro to take sharp close-ups with Quick AF for fast automatic focusing. The GPS tags images with location data so you can keep a track of your journey.

Videos are recorded at full 1080p HD with optical zoom and Intelligent IS to keep footage steady. The D20 can be connected via a HDMI cable to a HDTV for playback. Other movie modes include Movie Digest and Super Slow Motion.

Canon PowerShot D20 Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot D20 Top

Key Features

  • 12.1 megapixel sensor
  • 5x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 28-140mm)
  • Intelligent IS (Image Stabilisation)
  • 3 inch PureColor II LCD screen
  • Water, shock, freeze and dustproof
  • GPS
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 100-3200
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
  • Smart auto
  • Available in white, yellow and blue
Canon PowerShot D20 Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot D20 Rear

Canon PowerShot D20 Handling

The D20 has a mostly rubber exterior making it extremely easy to grip, which is also aided by its slightly unusual shape. There is also a groove on the front and a raised dotted area on the back. The buttons on the rear are big and chunky, making it easier to press them when wearing gloves. The ones on the top don't stick out as on the rear, but are still quite big. The playback button can be pressed when the camera is off to view your pictures and videos, you can cycle through by tapping either side of the camera. The battery cover has a secure catch, but is tricky to open, although this means it's unlikely you'll accidentally open it in the water.

The 3 inch LCD is a good size and is bright and clear to view. The D20 has a simple to use menu system, which will be familiar if you've used other Canon compact cameras. The battery has a CIPA rating of 280 shots, we managed over 350 during testing. The battery life will be reduced by consistent use of the GPS. The GPS activates within seconds of switching on.

We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.

Shutter Response   0.15 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.45 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.65 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.65 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   2.0 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   3.5 seconds
Continuous shooting
  2 fps

Continuous shooting records at full 12.1 megapixel resolution.
Canon PowerShot D20 Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot D20 Battery And Memory Card | 1/160 sec | f/11.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 100

Canon PowerShot D20 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.

Canon PowerShot D20 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are really well exposed with excellent colour reproduction. Portraits have good skin tones and are free of red-eye.

Canon PowerShot D20 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Images have a good level of detail at both ends of the lens, particularly as it is an internal lens, this often leads to a reduction in image quality. In contrasting areas, there is some purple fringing. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm, which makes it possible for the camera to get close enough to take a very impressive macro shot.

Canon PowerShot D20 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - A sharp, noise free image is produced at ISO 100, with only a small amount appearing at ISO 200. The small increases in noise continue at ISO 400 and ISO 800. Images become a little soft at ISO 1600 and at the highest setting of ISO 3200 there are some black and white dots, but image quality is still good.

Canon PowerShot D20 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the AWB preset image has an orange cast, with the incandescent preset taking a good picture. Under the fluorescent lights, both the AWB and fluorescent presets perform really well.

Canon PowerShot D20 Other sample images

Canon PowerShot D20 Low light images

The above images have been taken with our studio lighting on very low, on the left we have used the dedicated low light mode, with the one on the right taken using P mode.

Canon PowerShot D20 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The D20 has a number of creative shooting modes, as well as my colours, with many examples above.

Video - Below is a video recorded at full 1080p HD. Optical zoom is available when recording videos, with an example on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Page, you can also watch a video shot using the high-speed mode.

Value For Money

The Canon PowerShot D20 is priced at £309.00. If you want the most waterproof and shockproof camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 ticks the box, as does the Olympus Tough TG-1.

Waterproof Shockproof Freezeproof Price
Kodak Easyshare Sport C123 3m - - £50.00
Nikon Coolpix S30 3m 0.8m - £79.99
Olympus Tough TG-320 3m 1.5m -10°C £114.00
Fujifilm FinePix XP50 5m 1.5m -10°C £119.95
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 5m 1.5m -10°C £138.00
Pentax Optio WG-1 / (GPS) 10m 1.5m -10°C £164.00 / (199.00)
Fujifilm FinePix XP150 GPS 10m 2m -10°C £174.00
Olympus Tough TG-620 5m 1.5m -10°C £179.00
Canon PowerShot D10 10m 1.2m -10°C £209.00
Fujifilm FinePix XP170 10m 2m -10°C £219.00
Olympus Tough TG-820 10m 2m -10°C £219.00
Nikon Coolpix AW100 10m 1.5m -10°C £219.00
Pentax Optio WG-2 / (GPS) 12m 1.5m -10°C £229.00 / (£269.00)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 12m 2m -10°C £249.00
Canon PowerShot D20 10m 1.5m -10°C £279.00
Sony Cyber-shot TX20 5m 1.5m -10°C £294.00
Olympus Tough TG-1 12m 2m -10°C £309.00
Ricoh G700 5m 2m -10°C £599.00

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon PowerShot D20 Verdict

Many of the rugged, waterproof cameras we have previously reviewed score heavily for their features, but image quality is often lacking. This is where the D20 bucks that trend, it's not quite scored full marks for its features, but image quality is amongst the best of the outdoor cameras. It is also well designed, with a largely rubber exterior and large chunky buttons, great when out shooting in the less than ideal conditions. We were fairly impressed by the D10, since its launch, most of the other manufacturers have released a number of impressive waterproof cameras, but the D20 has certainly been worth the wait!

  Canon PowerShot D20 Digital Camera Review:
  The Canon Powershot D20 produces some of the best pictures we taken on a rugged, outdoors camera.

Canon PowerShot D20 Pros

Excellent image quality
Full 1080p HD
GPS switches on quickly
Large, chunky buttons
Low noise throughout the ISO range

Canon PowerShot D20 Cons

Continuous shooting isn't particularly quick
Battery cover is tricky to open
One of the more expensive waterproof cameras available


Canon PowerShot D20 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.9 - f/4.8
35mm equivalent28mm - 140mm
Optical Zoom5x
Image Sensor
Pixels12.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4000
Pixels (H)3000
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution461,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/1600sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting1.9fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS24
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-6L
Battery Life (CIPA rating)280shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery pack, battery charger, interface cable, wrist strap, strap mount, getting started guide, manual disk, solution disk and warranty system booklet

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Photographs taken using the Canon PowerShot D20

Sundown on Mount Kili"Man and Mountain"CoincidenceDerwent Lake at dawnClown Catapillar

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