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BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review

The BenQ G1 is a serious compact from BenQ with a bright f/1.8 lens, 3inch swivel screen and manual controls. Find out how it performs in our review.

| BenQ G1 in Compact Cameras

BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review: Benq G1 Direct Front

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.

BenQ G1 Features

BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review: Benq G1 Black (3)

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is fairly easy considering there are exactly zero other f/1.8 cameras with a swivel screen (Samsung EX1 was one but has been replaced by the f/1.4 Samsung EX2F).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.

BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review: Benq G1 Black (7)

Key Features

  • 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 Serious Compact Review: Benq G1 Black (4)
Benq G1 Black - Full zoom

BenQ G1 Handling

BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review: Benq G1 Black (5)

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.

BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review: Benq G1 Black (8)

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.
BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review: Benq G1 Black (9)

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.

BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review: Benq G1 Black (12)

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
Shutter Response 0.1 0.0
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
Continuous Shooting
(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.

BenQ G1 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

BenQ G1 Sample Photos

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

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

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

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.

BenQ G1 Serious Compact Review: Pano 2 | 1/453 sec | f/5.6 | 4.3 mm | ISO 80
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

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 Money

The 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:

Camera MP Sensor Size Lens Price
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.

BenQ G1 Verdict

The BenQ G1 originally interested us due to the compact size, bright lens, and swivel screen, and seemingly high specification and manual controls. However, the extremely slow focus speed and shot to shot time, as well as the slow switch on time makes it very difficult to recommend. In the recent tests of BenQ cameras, they have all had slower than normal focus, the BenQ G1, the slowest of them all.

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 Pros

Bright f/1.8 lens
2 year warranty
Free case included
6fps continuous shooting
Manual controls

BenQ G1 Cons

Lacks RAW
Images lack detail
Slow focus and general operation
Lime green menus
Unimpressive build quality


BenQ G1 Specifications

Max Aperturef/1.8 - f/4.9
35mm equivalent24mm - 110mm
Optical Zoom4.6x
Image Sensor
Pixels14Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4288
Pixels (H)3216
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution920k dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus3cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting6fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30fps
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)260shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsUSB Cable / USB Adapter / Li-ion Battery / Software & UM CD / Quick Guide / Neck Strap & Pouch (optional)

View Full Product Details

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Photographs taken using the BenQ G1

MusicEuro Disney Balloon.

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josa Avatar
josa 11 25 Czech Republic
28 Oct 2012 3:28PM
No! Maybe next time...

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