A compact camera with a big zoom and a twist in its design
We're always interested in products that set out to be different, but different doesn't always mean better. The VS20 is a relatively chunky compact camera with a 20x optical zoom, but while most cameras happily settle for a single shutter button and zoom lever, this one has two. One is positioned in the usual place while the other is on the side of the camera, ready for when you want to hold the camera on its end for portrait-shaped photos.
The trouble is, it solves a problem that doesn't really exist. Rotating a normal compact camera and supporting it from below feels perfectly comfortable. Grasping the VS20 in portrait orientation and using the extra shutter button felt a little unwieldy in comparison, especially once we'd shuffled our hand out of the way of the screen.
Otherwise, the VS20's features are pretty basic. There's control over functions such as exposure compensation, white balance and ISO speed. However, because they're tucked away in the main menu, they're slow to access. Video recording has a dedicated button but quality is a little below par, recording at 720p rather than the more common 1080p and with no zoom function while recording.
There are lots of scene presets and creative effects, such as Panorama, Fish eye, and Miniature. A digital spirit level appears on the screen to help keep the horizon straight in the composition. However, while on other cameras this resembles a physical spirit level, here it takes the form of a nondescript coloured blob. It took us a while to work out what it was meant to be showing, and it updated too slowly to be of any real use.
Our image quality tests revealed further disappointments. The 16-megapixel resolution is excessively high for this kind of camera, so it had its work cut out to avoid grainy noise. As a result, fine details had a surreal syrupy texture when viewed up close. The lens struggled to pull its weight, too. It was particularly bad when we zoomed in, with hazy details even after we'd resized shots down to Facebook-sized snaps.
Once the VS20's novelty factor has worn off, all that's left is an uninspiring camera with basic image quality.
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Not the ergonomic breakthrough it claims to be, and there's little else to recommend it
Big 20x zoom in a small package; lots of photo effects
Extra shutter button isn't much use; soft, smudged details; basic controls
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