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A Beginner's Digital Camera

Reviewing: Pentax Optio M20  |  Rating:
laurel1 By laurel1 on
Badge: Publisher | Level: 9 | Cameras Expertise:
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Last year my sister gave me a digital camera as an early birthday present. She chose it so that I could take pictures for things I was selling on eBay at the time, and I've also used it for things I'm reviewing. The photo for this review is of the box, because I didn't see how I could take a picture of my camera with my camera (at least, not without including me in the mirror!).

It has three quality settings. At the lowest setting, it will hold up to 700 pictures. At the highest, it holds 82 pictures. I've never used the middle setting. It was hard for me to figure out at first, partly because I'd never used a digital camera before, and partly because the owner's manual is not very well written, in my opinion. It comes with software for a PC or a Mac, and it makes it really easy to download pictures from the camera through a USB cable to the computer. It has 20 different "modes" of operation; some of them include night shots, pets, children, scenery, flowers, and auto. I usually use auto unless I'm taking pictures of my dogs; the pet setting helps diminish the eyeshine from animals. The view-screen is about 2 inches by 2.5 inches. The lowest pixel setting produces a fairly clear photo if you don't try to enlarge it; it's great for thumbnails. The highest setting has gotten me some nice photos through Shutterfly (my current printer doesn't do photos). The camera does have a docking link so that you can dock it directly to some printers.

I like the fact that it is small, relatively easy to use, and with lithium batteries, the battery life is several months (about a week with alkaline ones). It has a zoom feature, which works fairly well, although not as well as my old SLR zoom lens. I like the options for modes of picture taking, which means I can still do work in black and white if I want to. I don't like the fact that you can't use memory cards with it; once you hit the maximum photos, it won't delete old ones, it just won't take new ones. This makes it not the best camera for a vacation, because your ability to take pictures will be limited unless you have your computer with you. I also don't like the fact that the owner's manual is so difficult to understand. I'm really not a total idiot, but I can't understand how to put the camera into the video mode that it allegedly has.

I think this is a good first digital camera, or would be a good camera for a child who really wants one. It was, I think, reasonably priced, and I'm fairly sure it came from QVC, since that is where my sister usually shops! I'm saving my money, though, hoping to be able to afford a better camera, and possibly a workshop on using it. I'm sorry that I can't quote the pixel and megapixel stats, and all that kind of stuff; that is yet another area where the manual let me down. If you want a really good digital camera to take pictures of your new child, this isn't the one I'd recommend.