Today has seen the launch of two new DSLRs from Pentax, but leading the charge is the new flagship model - the K20D.

Professional level features, including low noise characteristics, in a tough dust and splash proof body, are the main claims being made of the new model.

For £999.99 (which includes an 18-55mm lens) or £899.99 for the body alone, the camera packs in a 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor, Pentax KAF2 lens mount, Pentaprism viewfinder, 14 Bit DA converter and 2.7 inch monitor with 230,000 dots.

The photographer can zoom in to 32x magnification on the screen.

In addition, to provide for a better overview, the display on the monitor can be divided for thumbnail image displays, and text size can be increased by 150%.

The brightness of the monitor be changed but the "LCD Colour Tuning" functions allows the on-screen colour reproduction to be varied through in 49 steps.

Pentax adds that the Preview option allows photographers to control their picture composition and exposure settings before the shutter is actually released.

The Digital preview can be stored on the memory card for later viewing.

The camera also offers Depth of Field preview, and pixel mapping as well as showing a histogram for each channel.

Camera shake is counteracted by an integrated Shake Reduction (SR) tool.

Dust on the camera's sensor, meanwhile, is countered by an integrated dust shield comprising a dust-rejecting special coating on the low-pass filter before a function that vibrates to shake the remaining dust off the sensor.

The vibration system can be set to work automatically when the camera is switched on or can be activated manually as needed.

The dust that is shaken off the image sensor falls onto an adhesive sheet positioned at the bottom of the SR unit, eliminating any possibility of its returning to the image sensor surface, explains Pentax.

With the "Dust Alert" function a vertically and laterally correct image of the sensor is shown on the monitor to indicate exactly where any stubborn dust particles may be adhering to the sensor.

The autofocus system uses nine cross-sensors and individual AF-point selection, and the camera can shoot at ISO 100– 6400. It offers four metering programmes: Normal, High Speed, Depth and MTF, and bracketing simply by pressing the shutter release.

Pentax adds that this model (which bears a striking resemblance to a model from Samsung also launched today!) includes an auto bracketing function which supports the free selection of white balance.

The K20D can shoot JPEG files (in four steps of compression) and RAW (DNG or PEF formats selectable) simultaneiously. It records onto both SD and SDHC memory cards.

Consecutive shots are unlimited when shooting JPEGs, while the camera can capture 16 RAW files.

It delivers a 3fps shooting speed and in burst mode, can hit up to 20fps.

Pentax adds that individual file names can be attached to images.

Improvements on its predecessor, the K10D, include Live View, the option to customise your image using five colour profiles and a black-and-white profile, 36 programmable Custom Functions, and, in response to customer feedback, Pentax has also added an X-sync socket for studio flash systems.

The K20D is 141.5(W) x 101(H) x 70(D)mm, and weighs 715g (without battery or memory card).