Pentax K20D SLR Review

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Bundled Software

Our K20D came with 2 CDs of application software. The disc labeled PENTAX Software S-SW 74 contains the PENTAX PHOTO Browser 3.5 and PENTAX PHOTO Laboratory 3.5. The second disc labeled PENTAX Software S-SW 75 contains the PENTAX Remote Assistant 3.5.

After installation of the two CDs I had three new icons on my Windows Vista desktop for the PHOTO Browser, the PHOTO Laboratory and the Remote Assistant 3.


PENTAX PHOTO Browser 3 is software for viewing, printing and managing images taken on the K20D and saved on your computer. Files with extensions .bmp, .pef ( PENTAX's RAW format), .pct, .png, .tif and .dng are supported. When you select a folder containing compatible images the will automatically appear as thumbnails.You can select a thumbnail image to view an image.

PENTAX PHOTO Browser can perform the following tasks:

  • Save image files under a new name, copy, cut, delete and paste images
  • Create new folders, change folder names, copy, cut, delete and paste folders
  • Save the image data list
  • Check Image Data
  • View RAW and DNG images
  • Print images

You can also start PHOTO Laboratory or Remote Assistant from within PHOTO Browser.

The PENTAX PHOTO Browser window layout:

  • Tree view: Internal data on your computer appears here as a folder tree. Select the folder containing saved image files here. Also, the tree view handles operations such as creating new folders, erasing folders or moving/copying folders.
  • Thumbnail pane: Images in the folder selected in the tree view appear here as thumbnails. The size of thumbnails can be selected from four sizes. When a thumbnail image is selected in the thumbnail pane, the image appears in the preview pane and the image data appears in the image data pane.
  • Preview pane: An image selected in the thumbnail pane appears in this view.
  • Image data pane: The image information for the image selected in the thumbnail pane appears here.


Double-clicking on a thumbnail image opens the edit window that displays the exposure information. Tools are provided to crop, fix, rotate and print the image.


PENTAX PHOTO Laboratory 3 processes undeveloped RAW image data produced by the K20D, enabling them to appear on commercially available image viewing and editing software. Enhancements over version 2 include print bracketing, noise reduction, lens aberration correction, crop/resize, rotate/shift, a more advanced tone panel and enlarged preview panel for selecting a grey point for white balance correction.

You may notice that the menu bar is partially hidden in the image above - even though version 3.5 is listed as compatible with Windows Vista I did have some problems with the application.


When you click the [View] button, a drop down menu allows you to select the RAW processing tools to use. When you select each item (White Balance, Tone, Noise Reduction, Lens aberration correction, Other settings [Sensitivity, Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness], each setting panel is displayed.


Setting the Sensitivity / Contrast / Saturation / Sharpness
    Adjusts the sensitivity of development processing.
    + : The image becomes brighter.
    - : The image becomes darker.

    Adjusts the contrast between light and shadow.
    + : Increases contrast between light and shadow.
    + : Decreases contrast between light and shadow.

    Adjusts the strength of the colors after RAW data development.
    + : The colors become stronger.
    - : The colors become weaker.

    Adjusts the sharpness of the edges.
    + : Image contour is enhanced.
    - : Image contour is softened.


White Balance settings panel with the preset selections shown. You can select the Camera Setting, use a preset, select a gray point from the image or manually set the color temperature. The changes made will be shown real time in the preview window.


Tone curve: The relationship between the input level and output level is set using a graph (Up to 16 points.). If the graph is left clicked, the line on the graph moves to that spot and the point can be set. The point can be released by right clicking (Windows only).

Histogram (Brightness) displays the light distribution when combining RGB.

    Histogram (R) Displays the light distribution for R (Red).
    Histogram (G) Displays the light distribution for G (Green).
    Histogram (B) Displays the light distribution for B (Blue).
Reset Deletes the tone curve settings, and returns to a straight line.


The Lens aberration panel provides three tools: Marginal lumination compensation, Distortion Correction and Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction.

The Marginal lumination correction reduces light falloff at the corners. Sliders are provided for lens angle of view and brightness correction.


Distortion Correction resolves lens aberration that photographs straight lines as curved lines. The Correction balance slider adjusts the distortion correction level between the center and margins of the image. (Slide to the right to widen the range.) The Compensation slider sets the compensation level.


Lateral Chromatic Aberration corrects differences in the image magnification and image size due to different color wavelengths at the image margins. The Red compensation slider adjusts the magnification of red light and the Blue compensation slider adjusts the magnification of blue light.


The Noise Reduction panel offers tools for reducing image noise. Random noise reduction reduces random noise (especially electrical noise visible in dark areas). Spurious color signal reduction settings are provided to reduce moire.


The Tool drop down menu lets you change Image Tone, Rotate and Crop/Resize the image. The available save formats are JPEG (5 levels), TIFF 8-bit, and TIFF 16-bit.



PENTAX REMOTE Assistant is now included with the bundled software and allows you to control the camera from a computer. PENTAX PHOTO Laboratory and PENTAX REMOTE Assistant can also be run as standalone applications.

Vista and OS X Native Support


As seen with many of the digital cameras tested recently, I did not have to install software at all to access my photos on the K20D. Vista (SP1) recognized the camera and offered to import the images into Window Photo Gallery. Not surprisingly Apple's OS X 10.5 (Leopard) also accessed the files on the camera. Neither of these OS' supported RAW image files - I could preview them but not import or edit them - you'll want to work with the Canon software or another third party application to access your RAW images.

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