For the majority of the trip, the camera bobbled around in the bottom of the kayak (tied to the kayak so it wasn’t lost, though it took a few dunkings and knocks). As we paddled across Sydney harbour, through Sydney Heads and down to Bondi Beach (the first ocean beach south of the harbour heads), it was easy to grab the camera for quick snapshots to help record the journey. The LCD monitor is clear and well-sized, and easy to view irrespective of the angle and strength of the sunlight.While it was occasionally a battle to keep the lenses free from water splashes, the 12 megapixel camera is easy to operate one hand (zooming in and out – up to 5X with the lens and up to 20X with digital zoom) though the buttons are a little stiff (probably for the waterproofing), holds its focus points well despite bobbing around on the water and is straightforward and logical to locate the myriad of modes, settings and options available with the camera.
As I’d expect with the majority of users, I elected to take most shots in Auto mode and was pleased with the results (all the images in this article can be clicked on to view larger and all are straight from the camera). In Auto mode, the D20 determines details about the image and automatically selects from a variety of settings (people, scenery, sunset, sunny, overcast, shadows, night, close-up, etc) and whether to invoke image stabilisation (compensating for shaky photographers or those sitting in kayaks) highlighting its choices with icons. Even if you ignore those (and I did in most cases), the choices are likely to besensible and will result in a decent photo. However, the options can be managed and overridden in Program mode.
Naturally I couldn’t help but explore the range of creative modes – vivid (heavily saturated colours), poster (like an old style poster), miniature (the effect of a miniature model blurring top and bottom of the photo), fish-eye, toy (vignetting like a cheap plastic toy camera), colour accent (where all but one colour or colour range is turned black and white) and colour swap (where one colour is exchanged for another) all make for some unusual artistic effects.
To suit the adventurous, the camera includes a video capability (not tried as it was too difficult to paddle and video) and special photography modes include Underwater, Underwater Macro, Snow (adjusting for the fact that snow is white) and Handheld Night (where multiple shots are combined to reduce inevitable camera shake). The Macro mode creates sharp close-up shots.The camera features geo-tagging recording the latitude, longitude and altitude of each photo and GPS logging where co-ordinates are recorded each day (note that this function continues to work even when the camera is turned off, soaking battery life). The GPS data can be entered into Google Maps (which shows a green arrow) and the geo-location of each photo noted.
For those familiar with DSLR cameras, the PowerShot D20 includes the impressive ability to play with white balance, ISO (up to 3200), photo sizes (4:3, 3:2, 16:9), light metering, exposure compensation (to help with HDR photos and night shots) though I didn’t bother with much of that during the paddle.
Personally I was pleased with the Canon PowerShot D20 with rich sharp image quality, accurate colours and good exposures. It boasts a bevy of shooting mode and post-shot effects which are easy to utilise with a logical and easy-to-use menu and button layout. It needs almost no love, care and attention during an adventurous trip (not a place I’d take my normal camera) and makes for an ideal compact go-anywhere camera for those who enjoy the outdoors (whether skiing, shallow scuba diving, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking or more).