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The Z20 was the third model to be introduced in the Pentax Z series of SLR cameras to be supplied fitted with a power zoom lens. Originally costing around the £450 mark when first introduced in 1994 it can now be picked up for as little as £180.
The camera when new was matched against the Canon EOS 500 and the Minolta 5xi, where it faired rather badly in the specialist press. This was rather unfair as neither could complete in terms of specification.
What really upset the press was the inclusion of the power zoom lenses supplied with the camera. Basically this was a lens where you twist the body of the lens and a motor takes over and adjusts the lens to the required focal length, and this was said to make battery life unacceptable. Personally I like this lens. Really it doesn't have to be a problem because any of the multitude of Pentax lens can be made to fit, with the universal k mount lenses fitting straight on. All of the lenses that I have used, and these are many, are optically excellent and there are a multitude to be picked up very cheaply.
The camera was designed for ease of use and Pentax really did well here, even a child could use it with good results. It has five programs which are self explanatory Portrait Landscape Close up Action Green which is point and shoot. Not content to rest here Pentax then introduced a learning mode to the camera which allows it to memorise your favourite settings of aperture and shutter speeds which can be recalled at the touch of a button. In all of the programs except the green you can override the cameras own selections of aperture and speed so as to maintain full control.
The camera is of course auto focus but manual focus can be selected if required, there is also a predictive auto focus which will when the camera senses movement measure the speed of the subject so as to maintain sharp focus at all times. I have found the auto focus to be fast positive and accurate.
All the information that you will required to take a good photo is shown in the view finder and is both easy to see and read. It also has a reasonably effective built in flash. Film loading is very easy, just pull the film from the 35mm cartridge to the opposite end of the camera, close the back, switch on and the camera does the rest.
The only negative points that I can find is the lack of a depth of field preview button but I have lived with out it for almost seven years now. In all that time the camera which has been heavily used has performed without fault ( easily out lasting and performing my sons EOS 1000) and I see no need to upgrade to a more modern model this and my trusty Pentax Z1 will I hope go on for many more years to come. So if you are looking for a reliable auto focus camera this could be the one for you its sexy black and beautiful.
Even in this digital age this camera can still better many of the current crop of digitals so it is still worth a good hard look.
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