Home Random Tech Obsessions Canon PowerShot D20 Underwater Camera: a Review after 7 Months of Usage

Canon PowerShot D20 Underwater Camera: a Review after 7 Months of Usage

I’ve been using the D20 for close to 7 months now and thought I’d give reviewing it a go. I love it but there was disappointment along the way. I’m no professional photographer by any means, just your typical point-and-shoot customer who can play around with the manual settings a bit. Oh, and this is not a paid review, just my humble observations.

blue Canon PowerShot D20

Anyway, I just want to get it out there that when it comes to electronic devices, I don’t buy anything without considerable research and intense soul searching if I really need the gadget or not. When I bought my Canon PowerShot A650 IS a long time ago, it took me more than a month of identifying all my needs in a camera and then comparing and contrasting various options. Needless to say, I was really happy when I purchased it and I’ve been using it for around 5 years now.

Recently though, my needs have changed. I wanted an even lighter camera that won’t weigh me down when backpacking. More important, I wanted a camera that I won’t have to treat so delicately when I decide to go on adventures. So, I embarked on a long internet search for a good quality shockproof and waterproof camera that would suit my budget. And I finally settled on the PowerShot D20. I still chose a Canon camera this time because my A650 is still alive and kicking and that kind of gave me a strong belief that Canon is a good brand.

The Specs

So, what does the PowerShot D20 offer? As mentioned it is waterproof and it can be submerged up to 10 meters. It is shockproof and Canon claims you can drop it from a height of 1.5 meters safely. Drop it from anywhere higher than that and Canon or I cannot guarantee anything. It says on the box that the D20 is freezeproof too for up to -10°C.

Other specification highlights include:

  • 12 megapixel
  • 5x optical zoom
  • 3 inch LCD screen
  • Built-in GPS with logging function
  • 1080/24p movie mode
  • HS sensor technology which helps reduce noise and increases low light performance

It is light, compact, easy to hold, and comes with a strap connector that you can adjust to fit your wrist. A 4 GB SD card came with the unit I bought and you can choose among blue, gold or silver models. I bought the silver by the way as it is the least attention-catching color, which for me is important as I certainly don’t want to flash around my gadgets; not when I plan to travel alone more often.

everything that comes in the box with the camera

Images Taken

Once again I’m not a professional photographer but I think the PowerShot D20 shoots some really great pictures underwater or otherwise. In fact, I believe the pics I took while on Auto mode were crispier looking compared to the images my A650 has been giving me for years.

Below are sample images I took; these have been resized though for the purposes of this blog. If you really want the actual images, just message me.

tropical fishes in Palawan
underwater shot of tropical fishes in Palawan waters
mouth of the Bojo River in Aloguinsan
taken while doing the Bojo River cruise in Aloguinsan

Ease of Use

The D20 uses more or less the same menu/navigation used in other Canon cameras, so I didn’t even need to read the manual to start using it. Navigation is pretty intuitive, buttons are easy to access even during one-handed operation, and taking photos while snorkeling, caving or riding a motorcycle is a breeze. Sometimes though, I mistake the power button for the take-a-picture button. I don’t know if that’s a design flaw or occasional airheadedness.

Charging the battery does not take long but the battery does last long. When I visited Palawan, I was able to use the D20 starting early morning (6 AM) until almost midnight on just one full charge. Considering Palawan is a beautiful place and I wanted to take a photo of almost everything, that battery did last long.

Most important of all, I did not treat the D20 delicately one bit. In three months of owning it, it has scraped cave walls, gotten close to colorful fishes, and fallen onto our cement floor at home (during several times when I troll my family and friends by ‘accidentally’ dropping the camera). Whenever a friend wants to borrow it, I just toss it to said friend and in the process giving him palpitations. Durability-wise, I’d rate the D20 a perfect 10, that is up until…

I Had to Return it for Repair

Yes, around three months after I bought this supposedly rugged camera, I had to avail of its warranty and have it repaired. I was in Bantayan with friends and was having fun taking photos of them while frolicking in the sea when suddenly the camera just turned off. I thought the battery just died, but after fully charging, the camera stayed dead. Finally, I had to visit the Canon service center and they had to send the camera to Manila for repair. I had to wait more than a month to get it back. So much for being a highly touted durable camera. Booo!

I never did find out what went wrong with the unit I bought since I wasn’t the one who picked it up from the service center after it was repaired. But on the first day of owning the D20, I submerged it in a pitcher of water and noticed bubbles coming out of it. If that was normal, I don’t know. But I never really thought much about it because I had faith in Canon. But then as mentioned, the camera died after 3 months so I’m guessing it was a factory defect? Thankfully, my unit hasn’t behaved alarmingly after it was repaired, so I really hope it is now okay. Sadly though, I’m now treating it a bit more carefully, which lowers the awesomeness of this shockproof and waterproof camera in my opinion.

On the bright side, the warranty checked out and the Canon service center here in Cebu was helpful.


As a whole, I still love my Canon PowerShot D20 underwater camera. I hope it won’t fail me again and that it would last long just like the A650. If it dies again though, I would be seriously disappointed in Canon and might just get a GoPro next time as I’ve been hearing good stuff about that brand.


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