BenQ G1: The shoestring premium compact camera?


posted Monday, July 9, 2012 at 5:43 PM EDT

BenQ's G1 digital camera. Photo provided by BenQ.Taiwanese consumer electronics manufacturer BenQ has offered quite a few digital camera models over the years, since it was spun off from computer giant Acer Inc back in 2001. By and large, they've all had one thing in common, though: a budget-conscious design that pares features down to a bare minimum. A new model quietly introduced by BenQ about a week ago aims to change that, targeting customers who're shopping for more advanced, premium compact cameras.

Hitting the ground running, BenQ has gifted its latest camera with a premium-friendly name: the BenQ G1. It seems in the digicam world, you're a non-starter unless your camera names contain the letters G or X, and the number one. Think, for example, of  the G-series cameras from Canon and Panasonic; Casio's EXILIM and TRYX; Fujifilm's FinePix; the Leica X-series, V-LUX, and D-LUX; Nikon's Coolpix, Panasonix's Lumix, Samsung's NX series; and Sony's NEX cameras. The pixie dust apparently works its magic even better if you can combine two or more of these magical characters. To whit: Fujifilm's X-Pro1, X10, X100, and X-S1; Ricoh's GXR, or perhaps the Olympus XZ-1. A rare few manage to hit every single base, such as the Canon G1 X and Panasonic GX1. Even pro cameras aren't immune: the Canon EOS-1D X springs to mind!

So... BenQ's taken account of the naming, but what about the hardware? Well, this year's trend is for bright maximum apertures, and the BenQ G1 doesn't disappoint, with a bright f/1.8 aperture--at wide angle, anyway. By the time you reach the telephoto end of the 4.6x optical zoom, however, the aperture plummets to f/4.9. The lens is, thankfully, optically stabilized.

Behind this lens, BenQ has pinched pennies and opted for a small 1/2.3-inch Panasonic CMOS image sensor, with a resolution of 14 megapixels. Compared to the larger, lower-resolution sensors of premium compact cameras like the Canon S100, Fuji X10Olympus XZ-1, and Panasonic LX5., that means less light captured, but then the BenQ has rather an edge in terms of pricing. It's priced at about €260 in the European market, roughly equating to US$320, if one ignores exchange rate fluctuations, taxes, and duties. Premium compacts typically command prices nearer US$500.

On the rear panel is a reasonably high-resolution 920k dot, 3.0-inch LCD display. Interestingly, it's articulated, and BenQ is claiming the G1 to be the slimmest camera to feature an f/1.8 max. aperture and an articulated screen.

And so, you have the story of the BenQ G1: a camera that courts the photographer seeking something better than the typical entry-level model, but determined to stick to their budget nonetheless. Beyond its bright maximum aperture at wide angle, the G1 looks to be fairly straightforward, although it does offer some interesting features like 30 fps Full HD video with a 2x fast-motion mode, 720p video with 2x slow-motion, and VGA video with 4x slow-motion. Product specifications and the official press release below, and more details on the BenQ website...

BenQ G1
BenQ's G1 digital camera. Photo provided by BenQ. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera Type Compact
Manufacturer North America: G1
Dimensions 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.0 in.
(114 x 63 x 26 mm)
Weight 6.9 oz (195 g)
Image Capture
Sensor Type Panasonic CMOS
1/2.3" (approx. 0.43 in. diagonal)
14.00 megapixels (total)
Aspect Ratio 16:9, 16:9
Image Dimensions 14.0 megapixels
8.0 megapixels
4.0 megapixels
2.0 megapixels
640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder No
LCD 3.0 in. diagonal920,000 dots
Image Stabilization Yes
Focal Length 4.3 - 19.8mm (actual)
24 - 110mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range f/1.8 (wide) / f/4.9 (tele) - ???
Focusing System Contrast Detect AF
Has AF assist lamp
Focusing Range Normal: 12" - infinity (30 cm - infinity)
Macro: 1.2" - 4,082" (3 cm - 10,000 cm)
ISO Sensitivity Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
Shutter Speed 15 - 1/2000 second
Exposure Modes Aperture, Shutter, Manual
Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent H, Fluorescent L, Manual
Internal Flash Modes: Auto Flash, Auto Anti Red-eye, Force On, Slow Sync, Forced Off
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- EV
Scene Modes Multi-Shot 16, Handheld Night Shot, HDR-Art, Background Defocus, MagiQ filter, Oil Painting, Sketch, 8 color filters
Movie Format .MOV with audio
Recording Medium SD/MMC including SDHC, SDXC, Built-in
File Format JPEG (EXIF 2.3)
Computer USB 2.0 High Speed
Battery Type Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary
Product Bundle
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary Lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger
Flash Memory 82.0MB built-in memory
PictBridge Compliant Yes
Internal Microphone Yes
Internal Speaker Yes
Tripod Mount Yes
Remote Control No
Notes Lens has seven elements in six groups. Product bundle includes USB Cable, USB Adapter, Li-ion Battery, Software & UM CD, Quick Guide, Neck Strap & Pouch (optional).
More Photos
BenQ's G1 digital camera. Photo provided by BenQ. Click for a bigger picture!
BenQ's G1 digital camera. Photo provided by BenQ. Click for a bigger picture!
BenQ's G1 digital camera. Photo provided by BenQ. Click for a bigger picture!
BenQ's G1 digital camera. Photo provided by BenQ. Click for a bigger picture!
BenQ's G1 digital camera. Photo provided by BenQ. Click for a bigger picture!

Press Release

The All New BenQ G1 – Turn Your World Around

World’s Slimmest F1.8 Swivel-Screen Digital Camera*

29/06/2012--BenQ, an internationally renowned provider of digital lifestyle innovations, proudly announces the launch of the world’s slimmest F1.8 swivel-screen digital camera* – G1.

“Optical technology is making continuous advancement at BenQ. It is an exciting day today for us to introduce G1, the world’s slimmest F1.8 bright lens swivel-screen camera*.” says Peter Chen, EVP and General Manager of BenQ Technology Product Center. “Everyone in BenQ who worked on G1 showed great devotion to providing our customers a total imaging solution, and have proudly equipped this camera with an abundance of functions and features, hopeful of bringing joy to our valued customers. It offers a wide array of choices for their photography needs, without compromising on the quality.”

This BenQ designed lens, constructed from seven lenses in six groups to build the world slimmest F1.8 swivel-screen digital camera*, has an aspherical lens element that improves focus and image integrity. The F1.8 bright lens is constructed with a high-transmission and part-glass lens material allowing more visual light to transmit through the lens in low light environments. The 4.6x optical lens, complemented with a 24mm wide-angle lens and lens-shift O.I.S, can take beautiful bokeh pictures with a shallow depth of field as it significantly blurs the background, generating a surreal, professional and romantic imagery.

Turn your world around with the 3” 920k pixel swivel-screen on the 14Mpixel CMOS senor, G1. This beautifully crafted swivel-screen uses AUO panel that has a wide color gamut that significantly improved optical performance for more saturated colours and realistic images. A sharper, clearer picture can be seen on the high contrast screen and faithful presentation of images and videos from all angles are possible. What’s more, the view is clear even under the outdoor sun.

The all-in-one mode dial on G1 allows users to easily switch between commonly used features:

  • ‘Handheld Night Shot’ allows users to capture the beauty of the night effortlessly without using a tripod. This is made possible as this feature makes 6 exposures of the image into one single photograph each time the shutter button is pressed. On G1, this is further perfected with ‘Exclusive Image Registration’ and ‘Ghost Image Removal’ technologies to help deliver clear pictures.

  • The ‘Background Defocus’ mimics the hallmarks of a professional-level DSLR camera and creates attractive and natural background blurs. The soft bokeh effect is simulated as G1 automatically captures two shots with different depth of field and layers them together, so users will have perfect compositions without the need for expensive lenses.

  • People with active lifestyle are usually full of actions. Ever missed the perfect shot by a few milliseconds? Use the ‘Continuous Burst’ and get 6 full resolution shots in one second and hold onto the shutter for continuous bursts. Capture every single precious moment and never miss the perfect shot again!

  • Under the ‘Filter’ feature, BenQ G1 provides ‘MagiQ filter’ creating dream-like and surreal images – like magic, with a touch of intensity; ‘HDR-art’ to automatically adjust the strength of contrasts, creating a stunning artistic image; whilst ‘Oil painting’ and ‘Sketch’ lets users explore the conventional artists within themselves; and ‘Colour accent’ to emphasize one of the colours within an image – be it the lips of a love one or a simple scenery in the marketplace.

  • ‘Scene Mode’ provides 20 scene selections to the users, including ‘Lomo, ‘Fisheye’, ‘Toy’ and ‘360° Panorama’ – Be it instant access from pre-set modes or manual mode from ‘P/Av/Tv/M mode’ with 14 aperture choices – It is perfect for telling a photographic story in a personal way. BenQ believes that complexity does not have to be included in the fun of manual photography.

Don’t be a follower, take the lead and turn the world around. With BenQ G1, great moments can be captured at every turn. This applies not only to amazing photographs, but also enjoy the freedom of shooting in 1080p Full HD anywhere, anytime – from any angle with BenQ G1.

Please visit BenQ G1 product page for more information.

* Compared to 2012 Q2 DSLR-like swivel-screen cameras built with bright lens.