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One of the neat things about the new BenQ G1 is that it has all of it's key features written over the camera body, which certainly makes writing the features list easier, although it's the opposite of what most of the other manufacturers do, with most taking a much more subtle approach.
The BenQ G1 isn't to be confused with the orginal "serious compact" camera, the Canon Powershot G1 from 2000, or with the Panasonic Lumix G1 from 2008, or the new Canon Powershot G1 X from 2012.
BenQ may not be known for making digital cameras, more likely to be known for TFT monitors, Televisions, Projectors and other consumer electronics devices. However, BenQ has been making digital cameras for a number of years, with new models seemingly released every year. We had a look at some in 2008, and 2007 and have news going back to 2004, so they're not exactly new to the game. More recently with some other companies exiting the camera market, such as Kodak, perhaps it's time to give BenQ another look? We certainly thought so when we saw the specifications and features of this new BenQ G1.
The BenQ G1 claims to be the world's slimmest digital camera with f/1.8 lens and swivel screen. Which to be honest, is fairly easy considering there are exactly zero other f/1.8 cameras with a swivel screen (Samsung EX1 was one but has been replaced by the f/1.4 Samsung EX2F).
The BenQ comes with a number of creative effects: Background defocus, MagiQ filter, HDR-art, Oil painting mode, Sketch, Colour select, Handheld night-shot, Multi-shot 16 (VGA, 30fps), as well as full manual controls.
- 14 megapixel Panasonic CMOS sensor, 1/2.3 inch
- f/1.8 - f/4.9 4.6x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 24-110mm
- Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS)
- 3inch 920k LED swivel screen
- Manual controls
- Full HD 1080P with stereo mics
- High speed video recording, 120fps VGA, 60fps 720p
- Colour effects available during video
- ISO100 - ISO6400
- 3cm Macro
- Creative options on mode dial
- Available in black or white with leather-like case
Benq G1 Black - Full zoom
Handling - The camera has a decent size rubberised grip at the front as well as a rubber grip on the back for your thumb. You'll also find a dedicated video button, a Q button for quick access to options and a metal tripod socket. The front appears to be metal, but the back and top are plastic. The rear command dial feels quite low quality. The battery compartment cover has a large metal section. The swivelling screen feels a little fragile, flexing too much when opened fully. It can be hidden away, but doesn't automatically switch off, so if you were hoping to extend battery life then it appears you are out of luck. Also when closed it doesn't have anything to keep it in place, instead it can be moved quite a lot.
Menus – The menus are seperated into capture, video and setup. The menus are lime green on a black background, and unfortunately the colour can't be changed. Pressing the Q button in photo mode can be customised and is set to ISO by default.
Pressing the OK/Fn button brings up an overlay of options where you can set AEB, WB, ISO, Metering, Flash compensation, and Colour mode.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 260 shots according to CIPA test results, we were able to take over 230 shots before the 1050mAh lithium ion battery went flat.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
|BenQ G1||Sony RX100|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||1.3||0.3|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||1.5||0.3|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||5.1||2.2|
|Shot to Shot without Flash||3.0||0.9|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||3.2||2.1|
(shots before slow down)
|6fps (13 shots)||7fps (speed priority mode, 15 shots)|
|Continuous Shooting - Flash||N/A||1.6s|
|Continuous Shooting - RAW||N/A||4fps (13 shots)|
Ye gads man! Focus is slow, taking 1.3 seconds to focus and take a photo at the wide-angle end of the lens, and 1.5 seconds when using full zoom. Switch on time is very slow at 5+ seconds, and shot to shot time is also slow. The one positive in all of this is the quick 6fps continuous shooting, which lets you take 13 shots before slow down.
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BenQ G1 Sample Photos
Drive | 1/536 sec | f/2.8 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
HDR | 1/648 sec | f/2.8 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Thoresby Hall | 1/1620 sec | f/3.4 | 6.5 mm | ISO 100
Portrait With Flash | 1/59 sec | f/3.2 | 10.8 mm | ISO 200
Sample Photos - Images have good colour, and the flash has performed well with little to no red-eye in our portrait photo. However images are generally quite low in detail, with images appearing over processed.
BenQ G1 Lens test images
Wide | 1/299 sec | f/5.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Zoom | 1/664 sec | f/6.6 | 19.8 mm | ISO 80
Trees | 1/123 sec | f/2.8 | 4.3 mm | ISO 200
Macro | 1/13 sec | f/2.8 | 4.3 mm | ISO 200
Lens Performance - Macro gives the best results at the widest setting, and with the subject 3cm from the front of the lens, this allows reasonable macro shots. Purple fringing was extremely strong in our shot of the trees, and was visible in other images as well. Again, although images show good colour, they also lack detail with areas of grass looking particularly mushy. The HDR mode can be used to keep more dynamic range in the photo, however these photos show quite ugly image artefacts.
BenQ G1 ISO test images
1/12 sec | f/4.6 | 17.2 mm | ISO 100
1/23 sec | f/4.6 | 17.2 mm | ISO 200
1/51 sec | f/4.6 | 17.2 mm | ISO 400
1/96 sec | f/4.6 | 17.2 mm | ISO 800
1/206 sec | f/4.6 | 17.2 mm | ISO 1600
1/225 sec | f/6.0 | 17.2 mm | ISO 3200
1/466 sec | f/6.0 | 17.2 mm | ISO 6400
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO100, and ISO200. At ISO400 noise is still low, but detail is reduced. At ISO800 noise becomes more noticeable. At ISO1600 noise grain increases. At ISO3200 images become very soft. At ISO6400 noise is very high and these last two settings are best avoided.
BenQ G1 White-balance test images
AWB Tung | 1/42 sec | f/2.4 | 7.5 mm | ISO 100
Tung Preset | 1/42 sec | f/2.4 | 7.5 mm | ISO 100
AWB Flu Light | 1/19 sec | f/2.4 | 7.5 mm | ISO 100
Flu Preset Flu Light | 1/19 sec | f/2.4 | 7.5 mm | ISO 100
White Balance Performance - AWB (Auto White Balance) performs well under both tungsten and fluorescent light. Using the tungsten preset gives a warmer result, and using the fluorescent preset gives a magenta cast to the image.
1/453 sec | f/5.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Panorama mode - Panoramic mode automatically stiches the image together as you pan the camera around.
BenQ G1 Digital filters
Colour Select | 1/454 sec | f/5.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Fisheye | 1/452 sec | f/6.0 | 6.5 mm | ISO 80
HDR Art | 1/623 sec | f/5.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
MagiQ Filter | 1/505 sec | f/5.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Miniature | 1/712 sec | f/6.0 | 6.5 mm | ISO 80
Oil Painting | 1/491 sec | f/5.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Sketch | 1/370 sec | f/5.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
Toycam | 1/428 sec | f/6.0 | 6.5 mm | ISO 80
Digital Filters - There are a number of digital filters, and effects available on the camera, these can be found in the "Scene" mode or the "Magic" wand mode.
Video - Video is recorded at full HD with stereo sound and it's possible to use optical zoom while recording.
Value For MoneyThe BenQ G1 is available for £200 from Amazon UK in White or Black. There are a number of serious compact cameras, with the Nikon Coolpix P310 available for slightly less than the BenQ G1. Details can be found below:
|Nikon Coolpix P310 (lacks RAW)||16||1/2.33 inch||f/1.8 4.2x||£199|
|BenQ G1 (lacks RAW)||14||1/2.33 inch||f/1.8 4.6x||£200|
|Olympus XZ-1||10||1/1.63 inch||f/1.8 4x||£260|
|Canon Powershot S100||12||1/1.7 inch||f/2.0 5x||£329|
|Fujifilm FinePix X10||12||2/3 inch||f/2.0 4x||£338|
|Nikon Coolpix P7100 (previous model)||10||1/1.7 inch||f/2.8 7.1x||£349|
|Samsung EX2F||12.4||1/1.7 inch||f/1.4 3.3x||£429|
|Panasonic Lumix LX7||10mp||1/1.7 inch||f/1.4 3.8x||£449|
|Ricoh GR Digital IV||10||1/1.7 inch||f/1.9 28mm||£449|
|Nikon Coolpix P7700||12||1/1.7 inch||f/2.0 7.1x||£450|
|Olympus XZ-2||12||1/1.7 inch||f/1.8 4x||£479|
|Canon Powershot G15||12||1/1.7 inch||f/1.8 5x||£529|
|Large sensor compacts:|
|Canon Powershot G1 X||14.3||1.5 inch||f/2.8 4x||£449|
|Sony Cyber-shot RX100||20.2||1 inch sensor||f/1.8 3.6x||£479|
|Fujifilm X100||12||APS-C sensor||f/2.0 28mm||£599|
|Sigma DP1 Merrill||15.3/46||APS-C Foveon||f/2.8 28mm||£799|
|Sigma DP2 Merrill||15.3/46||APS-C Foveon||f/2.8 45mm||£799|
|Leica X2||16||APS-C||f/2.8 35mm||£1499|
You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
The BenQ G1 is quite good value for money at around £200 including a two year warranty and leather style case, however you'd have to be pretty patient to want this as your main camera. Perhaps if they could significantly improve speed, and add RAW then this could be a contender.
BenQ G1 ProsBright f/1.8 lens
2 year warranty
Free case included
6fps continuous shooting
BenQ G1 ConsLacks RAW
Images lack detail
Slow focus and general operation
Lime green menus
Unimpressive build quality
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
BenQ G1 Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/1.8 - f/4.9|
|35mm equivalent||24mm - 110mm|
|CCD pixels||14Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Size (width)||No Data|
|Sensor Size (height)||No Data|
|Screen resolution||920k dots|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/2000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||15sec|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 6400|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Battery Type||Lithium Ion|
|Box Contents||USB Cable / USB Adapter / Li-ion Battery / Software & UM CD / Quick Guide / Neck Strap & Pouch (optional)|