Pentax is launching an 8Mp compact digital camera with 5x optical zoom.

The £164 Pentax Optio V20 comes with face-recognition capabilities and can be used to capture people and landscapes with a 36 to 180mm sweep.

The macro feature on the Optio V20 can zoom in as close as 10cm with no need to switch from the default autofocus mode. Combined with an improved Digital SR (shake reduction engine), close-ups ought to come out less blurry with the V20 than on previous models.

The Optio V20 has an impressively high maximum ISO rating of 6,400 – another important consideration for those keen to take shots in the near dark.

People shots taken in low light ought to have a decent success rate too: Pentax has included a “blink detector” that alerts you and prompts you to take another shot if your subject blinks at the crucial moment.

Conversely, the V20 waits for a subject to smile before releasing the shutter. (For grumpy pants like me who tend to both scowl and blink whenever a camera is thrust before me, there could be a long wait.)

A 3in LCD on the back of the camera can be used to compose and view shots and to play back video shot on the Optio V20.

Onsale from early May, the Pentax Optio V20 will cost £169.99.

Pentax Optio V20 digital camera

Pentax Optio V20 digital camera with 8Mp CCD and 5x optical zoom

See next page for complete feature details and more photos of the Pentax Optio V20

Click here for our review of Pentax's 8Mp Optio E40 camera

Main features

- 8Mp digital compact camera
- 5x optical zoom lens
- 1X - 5.1X digital zoom combined with the Optio V20 lens enables a possible 25.5X magnification
- Digital SR (Shake Reduction)
- 'Face Recognition AF&AE' function automatically detects and focuses on faces and sets the optimum exposure
- Auto Picture mode lets the camera automatically determine the correct shooting conditions
- Movie recording function with shake reduction enabling high image quality rivaling camcorders
- Mode palette provides quick access to 16 shooting conditions and 15 playback mode
- Panorama mode for combining two photographs into a single anoramic picture.
- Auto-Macro allows for close-up photography as near as 10cm without changing the normal focusing mode
- Auto-tracking AF continuously focusing on a moving subject
- Date imprint function for easy image categorizing
- Approximately 51.1MB of built-in memory
- FotoNation’s red-eye compensation function for flash shots
- ACDSee for PENTAX 3.0 image viewer/image management software (supports Windows Vista)
- PictBridge, DPOF functions, Exif Print, and PRINT Image Matching support

Pentax Optio V20 digital camera

An enhanced digital shake reduction feature should keep blurred shots to a minimum

Pentax Optio V20 in silver

The Pentax Optio V20 will also be available in silver