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Pentax Optio VS20 compact camera demoed

Pentax Ricoh has announced its latest compact digital camera, the 16 megapixel Optio VS20, which is due to launch in the US in February with a UK launch unlikely to be far behind.

The stand-out feature is the inclusion of two shutter buttons for landscape and portrait photography, both with their own zoom controls for extra convenience. Intriguing, though we haven't struggled with a single control in the past. The portrait-mode shutter release button is also joined by a tripod socket, allowing the camera to be easily mounted in either orientation, which is a nice idea for those like to carry a Gorillapod or other mini tripod with their compact.

The 16-megapixel CCD sensor has built-in stabilisation to improve shooting in low-light or high-zoom scenarios. You can also activate digital stabilisation in addition but this reduces the resolution to 5 megapixels or to 720p from 1080p for video. In front of the sensor is an impressive 20x optical zoom lens - equivalent to 28mm-560mm.

In the menus, Pentax has added some new features in addition to the company's existing Auto Picture Mode for selecting the best settings without user input: the camera now includes Fish-Eye Mode, Sketch Mode, and a Stretch filter, along with a Handheld Night Snap mode designed to further reduce blur and noise in low-light shooting conditions.

Finally, the camera supports an optional infra-red remote control for taking snaps of yourself, an in-body Digital Panorama mode that stitches up to three images together into a single whole.

UK pricing has yet to be confirmed for the camera, but Pentax has announced the Optio VS20 will be available in the US starting next month at a recommended retail price of $249.95 (around £160.)

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