Canon Powershot D20

Canon PowerShot D20 is a rugged and waterproof camera suitable for adventurous travel

Canon recently loaned me a PowerShot D20 compact camera which I trialled on a kayaking trip around Sydney Harbour and down to Bondi Beach. The camera is waterproof and robust, tolerating broad temperature ranges, being dropped from several feet and sitting in ten metres of water. It is striking in a bright aqua (other colours available) with a robust, confidence-giving build quality and with a funky modern shape which was comfortable to handle. Installing the battery and memory card, the clips are quite tight ensuring a waterproof seal.

D20 Sydney Skyline from the Heads

Seeing the Sydney Skyline from Sydney Heads (entrance to the harbour) is a wonderful sight

While not a rigorous trial testing every feature and function, I feel a day’s kayaking adventure in the harbour and the open ocean is a good examination for the PowerShot D20 and exactly the kind of trip the camera is designed for.

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.

D20 Rougher in the Open Ocean

Tougher to keep the camera straight and lens clear of water in the open ocean

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.

Standard Photo in Auto Mode and 16:9 aspect

Standard Photo in Auto Mode

Black and White (Monochrome) Mode

Same photo in Black and White Mode

D20 Camp Cove Jetty Vivid

Super Vivid Mode

D20 Camp Cove Jetty Fisheye

Fisheye (Medium) Mode (cropped top and bottom)

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.

D20 Watsons Bay Sepia

Watson’s Bay shot in Sepia Tone (Monochrome) Mode gives an “early days” feel to a photo

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.

Flowers in Macro Mode taken around 8 cm (3 in) from the subject.

Flowers in Macro Mode taken around 8 cm (3 inches) from the subject.

D20 Hornby Lighthouse

The familiar candy striped Hornby Lighthouse protects South Head after a tragic shipwreck in 1857

D20 Hornby Lighthouse GPS Info

Geotagging GPS Info for Hornby Lighthouse photo

D20 Hornby Lighthouse Google Maps Location

Geotagging data is easily referenced in Google Maps – just enter the co-ordinates

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.

D20 Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach was a welcome sight…

D20 Time For a Late Lunch

“Parking” the kayaks at Watson Bay for a late lunch – not the fancy Doyles but the takeaway next door…

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.

D20 Watson Bay Fish and Chips

Mighty tasty fish and chips

The late afternoon sun on the marina yachts marks the end of the paddle

The late afternoon sun on the marina yachts marks the end of he 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).



2 Responses to Product Review: Canon PowerShot D20 Compact Camera

  • Rachel says:

    Taking shots under the water must have been so incredible using an underwater camera,.. It’s in my wishlist actually. Though I still don’t have an underwater adventure plan, I’d love my Santa to give me one this Christmas for I know I’ve been such a good girl, yeah I was. ;)

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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