Customer Review

509 of 539 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be Sure To Understand The Trade-Offs, June 3, 2012
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This review is from: Canon PowerShot D20 12.1 MP CMOS Waterproof Digital Camera with 5x Image Stabilized Zoom 28mm Wide-Angle Lens a 3.0-Inch LCD and GPS Tracking (Blue) (OLD MODEL) (Electronics)
It's easy to be mislead by the marketing hype and glowing reviews, as I was, that this is a high-end general purpose pocket-sized 12 megapixel camera that takes stunning photographs and just happens to also be waterproof. But after evaluating the camera - and very nearly returning it in disappointment - I just want to caution others that this isn't the case.

This is a specialty camera for taking passable snapshots underwater and under inclement conditions. Significant concessions in image quality were made to "ruggedize" the camera, and these are apparent even under ideal conditions. This is true of all cameras of this type to date, and this camera is no exception. Shadow and background areas are suffused with noise pixels. Focus is soft, especially in low light. Chromatic aberration (colored fringes) is/are easily visible in areas of high contrast, even when images are reduced in size. Unless your standards are fairly low, I doubt you can get prints larger than 8x10 from the images the camera takes, under ideal outdoor daylight conditions. For pictures taken indoors, there's so much noise, even using the flash, that 5x7 is probably the limit.

If you're content to use the camera for what it's made for, it's a lot of fun. It works in the rain. It works under the lawn sprinkler. It works in the pool. It works at the beach. You can prop it up or set it down on wet or snowy or muddy surfaces to stabilize a shot, and just rinse it off later. It can sit in the puddle at the bottom of your kayak between shots. It's certainly adequate for uploading proof of your adventurous nature to Facebook. It has a very nice feature set, although it can be hard to figure out what some things are for, and hard to remember where some settings are located. It takes surprisingly nice video for a pocket-size camera, with zoom available while recording (the sound is mono though.) I actually like that the camera is fairly large - pants pocket size, not shirt pocket size - well suited to large hands, or gloves. It feels very solid. (The strange grip on the left is weird though. I couldn't possibly hold the camera the way the manual shows, but I make do.)

If you also want to take tack-sharp pictures, especially indoors, or make big enlargements, or be able to crop the pictures down a lot later, you're going to need a second camera for that. If you don't want two cameras, you need to decide what you want more, and how often you'll benefit from a waterproof camera. If rainproof is all you really need, you might be better off making strategic use of a ziplock bag. (Cut a hole in one side for your hands, and point the camera toward the zipper opening, like a poncho.)

If you truly need a rugged waterproof camera, this is a very nice option. If waterproof is just a "sounds-nice-to-have" for you, the image quality may be a big disappointment.
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Comments

Tracked by 9 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 4, 2012 2:10:02 PM PDT
Was this your first waterproof camera? Did you consider any of the other current waterproof cameras? If you have a better camera (Canon S100/G12, DSLR, etc., etc.), did you consider an U. W. housing to protect it while kayaking?

Appreciate your review & agree that the waterproofs are: A) 2nd cameras for those who have better, or B) Primary camera for those who shoot only when its wet.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 6:50:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 8, 2012 6:51:22 AM PDT
G. Dantoni says:
I have had the camera for several days now, and the picture quality is much better than you state. I own a Canon 7D and two T1i's with "L" lenses, so I can appreciate superior picture quality. You may want to return your camera for an exchange because it really produces much better images than you state of yours.

Posted on Jun 28, 2012 7:49:32 PM PDT
anonymous says:
The quality of pictures from this camera are great. I shot at dusk, my son diving off the blocks at an outdoor pool, from the other end of the pool (25 meters) and zoomed in and it's clear. Probably wouldn't look good blown up to an 8x10, but most people just want decent quality under wet conditions. I think the image quality over the previous model Canon waterproof is significant. I'm THRILLED I wanted to replace my old camera with this one.

Posted on Jul 22, 2012 7:25:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 22, 2012 7:26:30 PM PDT
now what says:
The end of the OP posting is right on target: "If you truly need a rugged waterproof camera, this is a very nice option." That's exactly what it's for. As the product information notes, you can "Scuba dive, snorkel, paddle surf and more: the camera is waterproof all the way to 33 feet."

So it would seem that this is obviously a specialty product made for speciality uses (even the illustration shows the picture of bright tropical fish on the LCD). It's not intended to be a walkabout camera or shoot indoors; it's mainly for sports and underwater (to 33 feet).

I'm going to buy this to replace the predecessor (D10?) which I owned but sold. That one was great for taking out surfing (using a neoprene belt/pouch intended for Walkman) and shooting photos of my surf buddies. You could get interesting shots of the shore taken from the water. It also took very good shots around the beach--seascapes, cormorants roosting in pine trees, etc. The color was great and the IQ was as good as any other P&S. There was a problem with lens interior fogging due to temperature change in colder water, and this did ruin the effective IQ of the camera (the digital part worked fine, but you were essentially photographing through a cloud). Luckily, if you waited a minute or so this would clear up. I'd be interested to know if the D20 has solved this problem.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 11:58:42 AM PDT
jay says:
I own 2 D10's. .. when I go on a trip to scuba, I'd hate to have my only camera fail. I've taken over 3000 (!) pictures with these cameras over 2 years. Most are in 20-30' of (warm) water. I've had them down to 60 feet for 20 - 30 minutes with no problems. The focus failed (on dry land) in my first camera which was covered under Canon Warranty. Anyone using the D20 for scuba?

Posted on Oct 13, 2012 8:03:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 13, 2012 8:31:36 PM PDT
El Tombo says:
I'd recommend an Olympus XZ1 with a housing as an alternative to these waterproof cameras (cost me just over $500 for camera and housing). As the OP suggests, the image quality of these types of cameras is not up to par with what you get in a non-waterproof camera of comparable size. You can't fit a fast lens or larger sensor into the waterproof footprint on these cameras. For comparison, the D20 is like F3.9 - F4.8 lens with a 1/2.3" sensor, while the XZ1 is F1.8 - 2.5 lens with a 1/1.63" sensor. Even though the XZ1 camera itself costs a bit less than the D20. To the non-photographers, those specs mean you will get far fewer blurry / grainy pics with the XZ1.

Plus these "waterproof" cameras tend to leak & fail if you use them heavily underwater, and you better not try taking them deep. I've yet to hear of one going for years with heavy underwater usage. Some have reviews about them going dead the first time in the pool.

If you love Canon, the S100 / S95 / G12 can be had with a case for just a little more than the XZ1. They will all give you better images than the D20.

If you don't need waterproof, these cameras by themselves are all comparable in price to the D20, and there are other fine cameras out there which don't have OEM underwater housings which might be even closer to what you are looking for.

I think the D20 is for those who want a tough camera that handle rain and waterfall mist and getting dropped and possibly an accidental dunking in the pool / sand / puddles. Probably nice to have as a second camera. If you need a scuba / snorkeling camera, get a good one with a case.

Posted on Nov 11, 2012 7:39:50 AM PST
Photo Nut says:
Thanks for the detail...yes I did expect both options of h20 proof and great photos...for my reason...for taking pics in the first place!

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 4:00:05 PM PST
I am looking for a waterproof camera. I have a Canon T1i DSLR which I use for almost all situations where feasable. I also have a 10 Year Old Canon SD450 (4MP 3x Zoom?) that take in my pocket skiing, or put it a waterproof case for paddling.

The above review makes it sound like the images the Canon D20 spits out are garbage. Can someone compare this camera to a current generation Canon Digital ELPH ?

Posted on Apr 4, 2013 9:05:17 AM PDT
Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and objective review...

Posted on Jun 1, 2013 12:14:26 PM PDT
Steve Z says:
I just bought (and returned) the waterproof Nikon Coolpix S31 for beach/underwater shots (I'm a semi-professional Canon DSLR user, but the Nikon's price was unbeatable). After a few test shots of the Nikon, I boxed it up an shipped it back to Amazon. Like what you said about the Canon D20, the Nikon took unbelievably bad photos. Indoors (with flash), outdoors (sunny, ISO 80), the photos were grainy/noisy, chromatic aberration was very visible, and JPEG artifacts were very bad. Worse than my iPhone. Very sad that in this day and age of high-performance point-and-shoots, that Canon and Nikon sell crappy cameras like these! They should be ashamed of themselves!
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