BenQ isn’t the first name that comes to mind when someone mentions camera manufacturers, but the firm is clearly trying to make a name for itself in the world of photography with the G1. Despite a low price tag, it’s pitched as an enthusiast-level compact with a bright F1.8 lens, full range of manual shooting options, sharp 920,000-dot LCD and sturdy metal body. There’s even a Leica-esque tan leather case included in the box – and very lovely it is too.
BenQ G1 – design and build
The G1 is pleasingly lightweight and skinny for its spec – in fact, BenQ claims it’s the slimmest camera around with an F1.8 lens and swivel screen – but there’s room for a good amount of controls, including a mode dial on top and a customisable Q button on the back (you can set this to adjust whichever setting you like).
So is the G1 likely to give the Canon G12 or Nikon P7100 any nightmares? Well, not really. Yes, it’s a lot cheaper, but for starters the build quality isn’t up to the tank-like standards of those two: it’s lighter, yes, but more plasticky, more wobbly.
BenQ G1 – useability
It’s also a lot slower to use, taking a few seconds to start up and rocking a sloth-like autofocus, even in bright sunlight. It’s the kind of thing you learn to live with, but could cause you to miss a window of opportunity if you’re shooting something that doesn’t want to hang around and wait for the G1 to get its act together.
Image quality is fine but not overly impressive, and we’d certainly recommend the Canon or Nikon over this if you’re looking for sharp, accurately-coloured and low-noise shots. We noticed that, where bright areas sit next to dark areas, the G1’s shots can show a surprisingly large amount of unsightly purple fringing. You can’t shoot in RAW mode either, so you have to rely on the G1’s JPEG-processing skills rather than having maximum photo-editing control in post processing.
BenQ G1 – image quality
Video quality, which goes up to 1080p at 30fps (you can capture 480p at 120fps, which is handy), is perfectly acceptable: sharp, low in noise and just a tad prone to judders while panning.
BenQ G1 – video
Overall, the G1 is a decent compact that offers acceptable performance in a thin and lightweight body – but it’s not the equal to high-end compacts from more established camera makers, and its lower price tag is reflected in its design and performance.
BenQ G1 – Verdict
BenQ G1 review
It's a unique package for the price, but the BenQ is more of an enthusiastic pretender than a genuine high-end compact.