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Pentax Optio VS20: 20X Pocket Megazoom With 2X Shutter Buttons

Pentax's new megazoom has a pair of shutter buttons and tripod mounts, designed for easier operation when the camera is held vertically

To go along with its far-reaching 20X-optical-zoom lens (28mm to 560mm), raised grip, and 16-megapixel CCD sensor, the just-announced Pentax Optio VS20 pocket megazoom has a couple of other things going for it--and they're both shutter buttons.

Announced today, the Optio VS20 has a primary zoom control and shutter button in the expected place on the top of the camera, but it also has a secondary shutter-release button and zoom control on the side of the camera, which is designed to operate the camera more comfortably when the shooter is holding the camera vertically. To go along with the side-mounted shutter and zoom controls, the Optio VS20 also has a secondary tripod mount on the side of the camera.

This is the first time we've seen a secondary shutter release on a pocketable high-zoom model, but 2009's Kodak EasyShare Z980, a full-size 24X megazoom, offered a similar vertical shutter button.

Beyond that unique feature, the new Optio VS20 looks like a standard-issue, fully-automated pocket megazoom camera, with a few good-looking extras: a "Handheld Night Snap" mode that uses exposure bracketing and image stacking to capture low-light images without the flash, and a digital level that appears on the camera's 3-inch LCD screen to help shooters avoid tilted shots.

Because it's a CCD-based camera, video capture maxes out at 720p at 30fps, and the VS20 lacks manual controls for shutter and aperture. The Optio VS20's 20X lens is stabilized by a combination of sensor-shift, ISO optimization, and digital stabilization. Due in February, it's priced at $250.

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